There’s nothing like a cup of cioccolato fondente gelato especially upon arrival in Rome. Once I dropped off my bags, I headed out to Piazza Navona for gelato and pizza because my priorities are straight and well, I was starving.

My first step into the true Italian cuisine realm did not disappoint. I didn’t know how much I could love cold pizza or rich gelato. Well okay, I’m a big fan of ice cream and chocolate but really, I had no idea gelato would be THAT good.

Ah, cioccolato fondente. Once I tried this flavor, I never looked back. I ate it at least twice a day but if you choose to walk the city daily, which I highly recommend, like me, you actually might lose a few pounds!

To get to the gelato shop, I took myself through Piazza Navona and that in itself was a treat. However busy it is, the local starving artists and swarms of tourists didn’t detract from this lovely place. There were people from all corners of the world colliding in one place, everyone looking for something different.

It was cool to be a part of that for a specific moment in time. Most likely, everyone who was present at that place at that time will never be present all at once again.

Having only been in Italy for three hours, it was startling how many reflections I was having. Maybe that’s a part of culture shock.

What was shocking wasn’t feeling and seeing so many different things all at once but realizing how much more I liked it than what I had grown accustomed to the past 22 years of my life. I now have a new appreciation for the things I can’t physically hold and touch, the things that only my mind can grasp onto.

Even after I was stateside again, I dreamed about Italy every night for months. I felt a sense of belonging to a place I only spent two weeks in. I felt that sense of belonging three hours after my plane landed in Italy.

It’s strange but it’s why I love to travel. New places open up my mind to new reflections, different people and foreign culture. Each time I travel, I grow and that growth tastes sweeter than honey. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable but if you’re going to travel wholeheartedly, expect the unexpected, try new things and don’t resist personal growth because it can be life changing and beautiful.

Published by Sydney Williams