It was bittersweet leaving Artena, whether it was the fresh countryside air, the amazing home cooked food, the little family run hotel, or the unreal views that I’ll always remember. My experience in Italy for the Artena Excavation program was an absolute dream. Now that I’m back in the U.S., I still find it hard to believe that I really went. Yes, the excavation was hard work, but I found really awesome artifacts, had some class trips to local museums, and learned about my future profession as an archaeologist. This includes the fact that I’d like to specialize in osteology- the study of bones. If it weren’t for this experience, I wouldn’t have gotten to visit Pompeii, Naples, Rome, Palestrina, and Artena to see ancient sites and relics that were apart of the history of the Roman Empire that shaped the world we live in today.
Also, during my month in Italy, I learned a few things about Italian life from my experience. Some of them may seem like minor details, but these are things that made my experience so fulfilling:
- Coffee- Coffee lovers in America need to know the differences between Italian and American coffee etiquette. Are you into your venti size coffees at Starbucks? Sorry to disappoint, but there are no Starbucks in Italy, and no to-go cups of coffee. Instead, there are coffee bars that people stand at to drink a quick espresso and then move on. Also, Italian coffee is much stronger than American coffee, though Italian coffee portions are much smaller. You can ask for a cafe Americano, which is an espresso coffee but larger, but there is no option for “black coffee.”
- Language- Simple phrases of gratitude go a long way in Italy. During my trip, I learned simple words like grazie (thank you), buongiorno (good morning/afternoon), buonasera (good evening), or buonanotte (goodnight). However, Italians don’t say goodnight unless they are actually going to sleep, unlike in America. Also, have you ever been curious what the word “prego” meant on that spaghetti sauce jar? It doubles at “you’re welcome” and “don’t mention it,” when you give something to someone.
- Food- In Italy, you’ll never go hungry. There are usually 4- or 5- course meals. In cities, you can choose just one course at restaurants. However, at the hotel I stayed at in Artena, we first had antipasti, aka appetizers. This included olives, fried vegetables, bruschetta, beans, and much more. The first course is always a pasta, which you could choose between ravioli, carbonara, and fettuccini with mushrooms. Second course is the meat course, in which you can choose chicken, rabbit, or pork chop. Then finally, there’s dessert. Usually we had cake, which was very flaky and had creamy icing in the layers. Dinner was always perfect in Italy!
- Style- Italians are very stylish. Guys usually wear dress shirts and shorts because it’s pretty hot in the summer. Girls also wear shorts or a dress with converse because a lot of people walk, especially in Rome. Usually, shorts are not common in Italy, but this trend may be due to the fact that I went during the hottest month of the year, or it is possible that it’s becoming a trend.
The little details are what make experiences so great, especially when visiting a different country. You learn that your own culture isn’t the only one out there, and that there are many perspectives in this world. I hope to extend my travels in the future! Ciao, Artena! Hope to see you soon!