Four tips when traveling to Italy

When I was selected for the Global Scholars Program here at Hanover, part of the program included a fully funded spring term trip abroad. Hanover offers myriad off-campus classes for spring term, and I chose “Early Christianity in Italy.” It happened to be the last theology class I needed to finish my theology minor, and I couldn’t imagine a better class with which to finish it.

We spent the first week of May on campus and had a week of in-class material where we learned about some of the places we would visit, artists we would focus on and the culture in which we would submerge ourselves. The trip was phenomenal, life changing, even.

So what should you know if you’re thinking of going to Italy with your spring term at Hanover? Take a look:

1. Nothing is free.

This is probably the biggest one for anyone who goes to Italy. In the U.S. we get spoiled with how much we just get for free. In Italy, if you want water with your meal, you pay. If you want to take a picture with the men dressed as gladiators, you pay. If you decide to laugh at a street performer, you pay. If you ever elect to do some of things without paying, you can expect to be chased down and heckled or intimidated until you do.

If you're going to take pictures, make each one count. This is me inside the Colosseum in Rome!
If you’re going to take pictures, make each one count. This is me inside the Colosseum in Rome!

2. The Metro closes at 11:30 p.m. in Rome

Now this isn’t something that happened to me on this trip, it was four other guys. They decided to go out one night to explore, and they took the subway about five miles away. They emerged from underground at 11:20 only to find soon after that the metro closed ten minutes afterwards. They were forced to walk the trip back to the hotel, which wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t walking constantly for the class already.

3. Bring comfortable walking shoes

I guess not everyone on the trip knew just how much we were going to walk (although the trip also counted as a fitness walking credit). We would generally leave around 8 or 9 a.m. and walk around until at least 4 p.m., sometimes a little bit later.

I brought two pair of shoes,  one were a pair of sneakers and the other were Sperrys. The Sperrys only got worn at night when we would go out. I watched some people wear shoes for style rather than comfort — and they paid for it.

4. Don’t live the trip through a lens

It’s incredible to me that people can go to an amazing place and never see it. A picture will almost never do justice to the true beauty of a place, and although it might feel like you’re capturing a piece of it that you can take with you, the best views are the ones not through the lens.

Sure, pictures are fine, but if you’re going to take pictures, take pictures with people. You will never look at your pictures of buildings and mountains again in your life.

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