Saint Joe Students Travel the World: Italy

Bella Saratore

In summer of 2017, senior Mia Sniadecki was able to travel to Italy, where she met many members of her family and toured the country.

They started in the beautiful Rome, which is considered the tourist attraction of Italy. What stood out to Mia the most is the amazing history, alongside the realization of how long Rome has existed in this world. The city had been a major place of residency before Christ (compared to America, which we have minimal record over and no monumental buildings from anytime before a few hundred years ago), and this is shown through ruins being very present within the town. The history is very well woven into the modern society. Walking in the colosseum made her imagine the fact that people had walked on this exact area thousands of years ago. The buildings had the most beautiful architecture Mia has ever seen.

She was able to tour the Vatican and watch the Pope speak, which was a moment that will stick with Mia forever. Within the crowd, there were so many people of different countries holding flags of their home, which was very uniting to watch. Within the Vatican, one thing that was very off-putting to Mia was the large amount of dead bodies of passed on Popes and Saints just casually throughout the Vatican. Some of them were preserved real body parts, while others were recreations using wax.

The food in Rome was amazing. No matter where you go, from the fanciest restaurant to the most run down facility, the pasta is amazing. Every restaurant she went to provided outside seating, which allowed Mia to people watch and notice the different customs of Italian people in the streets.

Next she visited Capri, which is an island off the coast of Italy. One night they took a boat out on the ocean, and she said the view and those moments were incredibly beautiful and life altering. In addition to the wonderful views, the gelato was delicious and the best she had ever eaten. The beaches in the area are beautiful and wonderful, so naturally they spent a lot of time swimming and spending time by the water.

Mia’s favorite part of the trip was visiting Gioiosa Ionica, which is a small area within Calabria, where she met up with her family.

Mia’s most memorable moment of the trip was driving through this very compact town as they traveled to their family’s apartment building. She had never met any of her family at this point, and the first person she was greeted by was her Great Aunt, who burst into tears of happiness once she saw Mia’s American family. Everyone was so friendly and excited to meet one another as they kissed each others’ cheeks upon their first moment together. The family had acted as if they had known each other their whole life. Mia said in response to this that it is, “Crazy to think people who had never met you can have so much love for you”, which is a great indicator of the emphasis on family in the Italian culture. Later that evening, they visited her cousin’s house, who took a lot of time out of her busy schedule to set up a big party to welcome their American family, which is another indicator of this intense familial love.

Mia was amazed by how much food her family provided. She stated that, “When they do food, they do food hard”, which just goes to show how passionate Italians can be when it comes to their pasta and other dishes. Mia also commented on her love for her family’s “obese dog”, who she claims is one of the smartest dogs she’d ever met. She also added that many stray dogs fill the streets and walk together in gangs to assert their dominance.

The people in the area are very passionate about Pickle Ball, and Mia was fortunate enough to be able to go watch and support her family as they played against everyone around. These new people they met were so in shock they were American and would not stop engaging with them and commenting on their blonde hair.

Finally, they went to Plati, which is an incredibly small town in the mountains. It is so small and secluded that the locals obtain their water from drinking from a stream, which runs through the single road in this town. During this visit, she was able to see where her grandparents who immigrated to America lived. Mia emphasized how humbling it was to see how small of a place they lived in despite how many siblings they both had. They were also able to visit the graves of all of her family, which was an emotional experience. There was something about visiting family members’ graves who she had heard so many amazing and powerful stories of, but had never met.

Her final night was one to remember. She enjoyed an amazing dinner with her extended family, and had to share melancholy goodbyes. Her attachment to her family was instant and shown through the many tears shed by everyone as they had to wish everyone the best as they left.

Her flight home was connecting, so she had to make a first stop at New York. Mia describes eating a burger in the city (after only eating pasta for a week) as the “most American thing” she’d ever done and claimed it felt like “the end of a movie”, which only makes sense, for it was the final moments of the amazing trip Mia will never forget.