Is there a part of Europe that conjures up more wanderlust than Italy? For me, there wasn’t: it seemed more magical than Paris, more exciting than Barcelona, and more delicious than, well…just about all of Europe combined.
So as we boarded our flight to Naples, excitement pulsed through my veins. Years ago, Mike and I nixed our plans to honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast due to costs, so it seemed like the universe was finally giving us our chance.
For a few blissful hours as we made our way there, I daydreamed about speaking broken Italian, eating fresh pasta, and sunsets overlooking the water. But when we arrived, it wasn’t at all what I expected.
Sorrento was far from the alluring paradise I pictured. Streets were crowded with travelers and motorbikes. The beaches had coarse sand and rocks rather than the powder I wanted. We shared postcard-perfect sunsets with a hundred other people fighting for the same photograph. And forget those fresh seafood dinners: when you haven’t done research, the only restaurants you’ll find will cater to tourists with meals on par with the Olive Garden.
It wasn’t magical at all.
The problem is, when your expectations are set unrealistically high, it’s easy to be disappointed. I refused to let that happen; there’s no way I’d go to Italy and not have a good time! All it took was wiping those expectations from my mind and it turned into an incredible trip.
Mike and I learned the steps to Italian folk dances, made gelato from scratch, and laughed over really terrible ravioli. Sorrento ended up being a lot of fun, but not at all what I had arbitrarily conjured up in my mind.
We moved northbound, to Rome, Venice, Murano, and Burano. In each destination, the same thing happened again: I wanted one thing and received something else entirely. Our quick trip to Italy was amazing, but not at all what I expected.
Then again, who goes to Murano and learns the art of glass-blowing from a master gaffer? Who dresses up like gladiators and sword fights in Rome? And goodness gracious — who paints Venetian masks four months after the end of Carnaval?
If you measure your experience up to your expectations, it’s easy to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you enjoy it for what it is, you just might find out you turned Sorrento lemons into limoncello.
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