One of the cities that I enjoyed most during my visit in Italy was Taormina. Though it is nearly impossible to choose a favourite, I remember loving a few specific things about Taormina that I did not experience anywhere else. Firstly, I really liked that we went to Taormina because it was a surprise; the itinerary never originally included visiting Sicily but in a change of schedule, I was delighted to find that I would get to see the beautiful island. One of the first things I noticed in Taormina was the cactuses. I never knew that cactuses grew in Italy, even though given the climate it isn’t surprising, and I never knew that so many could grow in one place or at such an angle as off the side of a mountain. I had a very memorable moment involving a cactus, when I noticed that people inscribed their names or initials into cactuses in the garden behind the amphitheatre in Taormina. I used a sharp rock to write M.A.M.A., the initials of my friends and I (Manny, Adriana, Maggie, and Alison). Speaking of gardens, another one of my favourite things about Taormina that I have never encountered anywhere else was breathing beautifully fresh air in a garden near a hidden pizzeria. My friends and I had lunch at a pizzeria that took a couple hundred stairs to get up to, but it was so pleasant it was worth it. While we were leaving, we knew we were late but I couldn’t help but stop to enjoy the wonderful fresh air in the garden. That experience convinced me I would have to go back. The other experiences that made Taormina so enjoyable for me were the way the people were so friendly and helpful when I didn’t know where to go and that Taormina was the place where I bought souvenirs for my friends and family so they could share in my memories. Overall, I could not decide on one favourite place we visited, but Taormina is definitely tied with other cities for my most enjoyed experience.
My expectations of this course and the trip were met and exceeded. I didn’t know I would be learning ancient history and mythology when I signed up and I really liked learning those units. If I were to do it again I would probably like to spend more time speaking Italian with classmates so I could be confident to use my language skills in Italy. I would also like to visit Venice, and perhaps not change hotels every night but use one or two hotels as bases and go on day trips to other cities instead. I would definitely want to keep the visits to Rome, Florence, Certosa, Taormina and especially the church of San Francesco di Paola.
Thank you for this amazing learning experience!