Early in the morning, right around sunrise, the sleepy town of Riomaggiore begins to stir. Shopkeepers prepare for the crowds that line the narrow alleys, fishermen set out to catch the day’s anchovies, and tourists enjoy a caffè (an excellent perk of being in Italy) before setting out to experience Riomaggiore and the greater area of Cinque Terre. There is no sense of rush here. The locals all take the time to have a cigarette and a quick chat with the neighboring shopkeeper or to have a conversation out their window with a friend spotted on the street. No one is in a hurry and the entire town has a relaxed atmosphere about it which is almost infectious.
In terms of how I was feeling mentally during our time in Riomaggiore, I would say it was almost a continuation of Interlaken. They were entirely different places with different people, customs, and landscapes, but once again it felt like a brain break from Germany and a bridge between Germany and the bigger cities in Italy – Florence and Rome. We weren’t learning dense history or looking at art and monuments all day, rather we were swimming and hiking and taking boat tours and eating WELL. Now this absolutely doesn’t mean we weren’t learning. Riomaggiore was a huge cultural learning opportunity largely because of how different it was from anything we had experienced on the trip up to this point and how different it was from my life at home in Fort Worth.
At home I feel as though many people, myself included, put their heads down and just get through their busy daily lives rather than looking around and appreciating the people and things around them. The people of Riomaggiore, however, seem to thrive on interpersonal interaction and get enjoyment out of what I may call the day-to-day monotony. This is an important lesson to be taken from the people of this region. Sometimes, I just need to slow down and take it all in as I did in Riomaggiore. Sometimes I need to have dinner with close friends and let it last hours when I have the time. I think it would be beneficial if everyone did the same. Obviously the culture is vastly different between small town Italy and the big city of Fort Worth, but being conscious of these differences and making an effort to bridge the gap has the potential to be hugely beneficial in my life.