GUIZERIX: Buongiorno to y’all

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

I’m back this week after a much-overdue vacation to the beautiful country of Italy, during which my husband and I visited four cities and saw the most amazing sights.

From the canals of Venice and the glistening marble of Rome to the rustic charm of Verona and the many, many stairs of Positano, we crisscrossed the boot — even driving through a portion of it in a rental car.

There were once-in-a-lifetime encounters, including stumbling upon a basilica in Rome as daily Mass began and delving more than 10 meters below the Papal Altar to view the tomb and bones of Saint Peter. There were some stumbling blocks as well, both literally and figuratively, as those 13th-century cobblestone streets are nothing to be trifled with and the language barrier presented a challenge at times.

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But what amazed me, no matter how far across the globe we were, was the hospitality of the Italian people, and how genuinely happy they were to see a new face. In a sense, it reminded me of the welcoming nature for which Vicksburg is known — although thankfully, none of our local restaurants have horse meat or donkey stew on the menu.

At each point in the journey, we encountered a kind face who helped us with directions or ensured we were charged correctly for arancini or made sure we didn’t get caught up in the usual tourist traps. (Pro tip: forgo the 80-Euro gondola for its 2-Euro counterpart.)

The Italians are hardworking people who, like Vicksburgers, know how to cook and how to eat. They have a healthy appreciation for the land and its bounty and often devote themselves to a generational trade or family business. At the risk of stereotyping them, the passion they’re known for is evident in every stitch, every tour led, every brushstroke.

What separates them from us, however (aside from thousands of miles, a language and an entire ocean) is that their heritage and culture extend so far beyond ours as Americans.

I often feel small and insignificant as a little old newspaper editor in little old Mississippi — but very few encounters have made me feel so minuscule as standing at the base of a church so old that it not only predates the United States, but also the country in which it is now located.

I could write an entire book on the cultural differences observed during this trip abroad, but the similarities are what brought comfort during our trip to a foreign land. As we landed on U.S. soil after a week of exploring Italy, my husband and I were relieved to be back in a place where we understood the language and could read street signs.

But it wasn’t until we hit Interstate 20 at Vicksburg around sunset on Monday that we truly appreciated being back home.