Expectation vs reality is a curious thing. You tap the Instagram icon on your phone, someone has just posted a pic of their vacation in Italy. Before you know it, you’re searching for more, scrolling through countless pictures of Italy from every possible angle. Gorgeous, rustic, rolling hills with a faint mist slightly obscuring the dazzlingly orange sunlight that paints the chiseled, timeless landscape and excites the explosive shades of green in every leaf, every blade of grass swooning in the beauty of it all. Freshly made pizza slowly rising in an oven coated with flour as the ripened San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella melt and ooze together, becoming entwined in what you suspect would be the most intoxicating bite of your life.
Italy sure looks enchanting.
You book your plane tickets and, within a few long months you find yourself standing inside your Italian dream. It’s beautiful, of course. But what you failed to see while scrolling on Instagram many months ago was that, in actual fact, Italy is not quite as immaculate as you first assumed. You don’t regret your purchasing decision but, perhaps, you realize this is an opportunity to become slightly more world-wise and more consciously aware of expectation vs reality when it comes to traveling in general.
And so, my friends, here were my 8 observations of expectation vs reality when I traveled to Italy!
1. Driving In Italy
Expectation: Rolling hills, lots of sunshine, a happy and calm disposition.
Reality: I’ve never felt so stressed. Why is everyone’s car so battered and bruised? Did I just see a car parked on a roundabout? Why was that person shouting at me from their car?
2. Food In Italy
Expectation: I’ll definitely eat more than just pizza in Italy.
Reality: The chef preparing my order (the same as what I ordered yesterday…and the day before yesterday).
But it tastes so good, so who cares?
3. Personal Space In Italy
Expectation: I will continue to presume that I have an invisible circle barrier around myself that successfully inoculates me from the outside world.
Reality: Although it’s a warm gesture, my reserved non-Latin personality could never get used to it!
4. Crossing The Road In Italy
Expectation: Elegant, easy, care-free, with clear road-markings and signs indicating when to walk and when not to get hit by a car.
Reality: Who needs order when you can just embrace a certain type of chaos that somehow runs seamlessly like clockwork?
5. Dress In Italy
Expectation: I just assumed most people would be wearing T-shirts and shorts.
Reality: Scarves! Why is everyone wearing scarves? It’s like 95 degrees outside.
6. Countryside In Italy
Expectation: The countryside in Italy will consistently offer stunning views.
Reality: To be fair, that one is mostly true!
7. Cities In Italy
Expectation: Italy’s major cities will inspire me at every turn with that European charm.
Reality: Oops. I’ll just pretend I didn’t see that.
8. Conversations In Italy
Expectation: Like other Western and non-Latin places, people in public will speak politely and reservedly to each other so as not to offend or draw any undue attention to themselves.
Reality: Best friends having what appears to be shouting matches with each other and waving their hands enthusiastically (its the Latin way…apparently!)
Finally, you arrive back home after your trip to Italy. Sure, you may have realized there was quite a discrepancy in expectation vs reality, but you had a fantastic trip nonetheless. Italy is a wonderful country, it’s people are charming, and the food stunning, so who cares if it wasn’t exactly as you expected? Being surprised by the adventure is kind of the point of travel anyway, right?
Suggested next reading: Venice: How To Enjoy It Without Destroying It