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An Italian Vacation

The first things that come to mind when people think about Italy are the sights and sceneries of Rome, Venice, or Florence, the exquisite food, the sports cars and sleek motorcycles, Italian fashion and style, the romantic feel of thinking “Italy,” and such. Individuals who have never been to Italy would label their culture in one or two words representative of cultural symbols that were marked by perceptions, expectations, or thoughts and ideas obtained from movies, books, or any other resource materials that try to limit cultural perspectives into cliches and prefigures.

What individuals fail to see is that it is quite difficult and iniquitous to contain culture in something solid that is unalterable because of perceptions or expectations. Compartmentalizing culture is not compelling enough when it is based on knowledge and perspectives. In other words, getting the feel and true essence of a particular culture lies in experiencing it, rather than knowing it. My experiences in spending vacation in Italy has taught me that understanding culture does not mean categorizing it into words or symbols that represent what it is.

On the contrary, understanding culture means the need to experience it personally and feel how to live within the context of that particular culture and finally determine how it entirely differs to cliches or characterizations that are not entirely true or applicable. The experience should appeal to the five senses and the mind to truly say that a culture is fully grasped and learned with the help of historical elements and present influences.

As far as I know, culture changes or transforms according to the setting or environment in a particular period of time. Although culture constitutes what it has been since the beginning of time until today, I do believe that the entirety of culture still includes changes or transformations that took place throughout the years. Culture will not be complete without changes after all, and understanding why people choose to observe particular cultures requires learning and experiencing these particular changes and transformations.

For instance, people have had ideas about the Italian culture due to events that have happened in the past, and I have felt the major role that history played in shaping the rich culture of Italy. Everything is reflected in the beauty of Italy, from the gardens to the noble statues – establishing why Italy is an excellent place to visit with its rich culture and history. Rome is the capital of Italy, not to mention its most populous city. I had the chance to experience the grandeur of Rome by staying at my uncle’s humble abode along with my other relatives.

The place that I once thought as the birthplace of the Roman Empire has appeared to be more than just that as we took a trip from Villa Borghese Gardens and Museum, to the Pantheon, the Coliseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. Each creation ceased to be mere symbolisms or representations of what Italy is able to offer visually. Although the breathtaking sites were overwhelming to take in, there seemed to be something more to be gained from my visit. The gardens of Villa Borghese were close to representing utopia, with the narrow paths that were seemed to be intentionally adorned with majestic trees on the sides.

The Piazza di Siena was also structured in the same way, housing tall majestic trees and pleasing arrangement of flowers that invitingly decorate the pathways. Even without firsthand knowledge about landscaping and gardening, I truly appreciated how everything was put together to offer something spectacular for the public eye. The water clock and the sculptured Fontana are definitely worth seeing when taking a trip to Italy. Although the magnificent spectacle seems to be inviting enough people to come and experience Italy, there is more to it than just seeing the sights and views.

Perhaps the main argument that I would like to present is that the motivation or urgency to go to Italy should not be merely about the symbols or representations, such as the breathtaking views alone, but the learning experience that goes along with it. For instance, the Italian people’s dedication to present such views represents their character as a people. Their passion and commitment to establish and maintain these structures shows how willing they are to preserve their culture and identity through these spectacles.

Another important thing to note when contemplating on visiting Italy is its cerebral offerings to people embodied in Italian art and music. I had the opportunity to visit Galleria Borghese. The art gallery housed a wide collection of various art media, such as paintings, sculptures, and other historical artifacts that stays true to the uniqueness of Italian culture. It was truly exciting to see a contemporary version of “The Last Supper” which was designed distinctively from Da Vinci’s. It was a fresh take on how “The Last Supper” is visualized – that is, less formal and conventional.

Another appealing piece of art was the Pauline Bonaparte’s sculpture. It was the main piece which represents the collections being displayed in the art gallery as it was situated at the center of the museum. The sculpture artfully and mystically showed her watchful eyes while she held an apple in her hand. The novelty and mystery represented by the distinct version of “The Last Supper” and Bonaparte’s sculpture again represents the creativity of the Italian people. The Pantheon and the Coliseum were our next destinations. I have learned that both structures were constructed during the glory days of the Roman Empire.

Although the structures have been erected decades ago, it was surprisingly amazing to see how it is being maintained and protected by the people. The structure and design of the pillars, the walls, and the interior were still intact, leaving traces of how people of old have regarded art and design by incorporating them to buildings or structures. For instance, the altar and the crucifix in the Pantheon took me back to how the people worshipped and practiced Early Christianity. Viewing the tomb of the legendary artist Raphael brought vivid images of Dan Brown’s representations in his novel “Angels and Demons” to life.

Another amazing experience was imagining the gladiator battles that took place in the Coliseum. It all seemed to be just scenes in the movie, but being there made it more real, like viewing the battles in mind was clearly real. Like what I have said, experiencing it with one’s five senses is entirely different from what most people would perceive or expect if they just read it in books or saw it in movies. It was an elating experience to be there and contemplate on what the representations meant for the Italian culture. A little piece of information obtained during the trip to the Coliseum was its destruction.

The tour guide mentioned how it was destroyed during the period of Christianity. However, the remnants from the destruction of the Roman Coliseum were utilized to build St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Despite the damages inflicted on the Coliseum, it was still amazing how one could picture how it was in the past since most of the vestiges were well preserved. I estimated the building to be almost three stories high and it was able to house thousands of spectators during the said gladiator matches. St. Peter’s Basilica was our last stop during the trip.

It is located in the Vatican – the world’s smallest state. The facade of the establishment was mind-boggling, with mystery lurking behind the history of the basilica. The feel of being inside one of the world’s most prominent landmarks was astounding. Walking along St. Peter’s Square was nothing like I have imagined when I remembered seeing the place in books and postcards. Everything was entirely different. In the center of the square, an obelisk was built, representative of the influence of Egypt and the relations between the Romans and the Egyptians in the past.

Peace and calm surged through me as we entered the church. The atmosphere inside was elegant and formal that everything was peaceful but awe-inspiring at the same time. Of course, the highlight of visiting the church was marveling at the works of Michelangelo, most especially his paintings on the ceiling of the ceiling of the church. It was intricately and laboriously done. Everything I have seen represents the richness of Italy’s culture, not only from the external faculties of each site I visited but also the stories or the history that comes along with each view or majesty.

There are numerous things that Italy should be proud of, and equally numerous reasons for people to visit the country. The spectacles abound as each landmark or place in the country presents beauty and art that originates from the Italian culture. Aside from that, the country is a good place to reconnect with one’s religious ties with the Divine Being as the Roman Catholic Church is housed in Rome and its members are exerting effort to preserve the Latin language as a means to also preserve their culture.

Paintings and sculptures, the exquisite and traditional food, the sights and sounds – everything seems to put the Italian culture into place that knowing and learning it motivates or urges the desire to visit and experience it in reality. Surely, there is nothing more meaningful and educational than being in Italy and experiencing every piece of its culture that it has to share and present to us.

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