Thanksgiving in Italia This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     My family has never celebrated Thanksgiving anywhere except in our own dining room, on our shiny lacquer table, with the turkey and all. So when my parents suggested going to Europe in November instead of January, my heart momentarily sank. I had been to Italy before and loved it, but relocating our Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving to the Mediterranean somehow seemed ... wrong.

My experience in Italy, as one might expect, was fantastic by any standard. My family stayed in Milan, the fashion capital of the world. This meant that any time we were tired of Renaissance art museums or quaint trattorie (as if it’s possible to get tired of them), we could stroll down to Via della Spiga and see all of next season’s designs in Gucci’s boutique and Dolce & Gabbanna’s House of Couture. We even passed Gianni Versace’s former residence!

As you might expect, Thanksgiving was an interesting experience. Americans, usually identifiable in any corner of the globe, could now best be recognized as the people wondering out loud which trattoria might be serving turkey. My family did not attempt to recreate our usual Thanksgiving traditions; we thought it would be more interesting (and memorable) to have a regular Italian dinner. It was slightly bizarre to be spending such a beloved and important American holiday in a country where it’s just another Thursday in November.

American holidays aside, we tried to spend our vacation seeing as much of northern Italy as we could during our week there. We even drove to Venice for a day. Though the weather was inconveniently drab, by the time we got there, the sun had come out. Every romanticized story you’ve heard about gondolas and the Bridge of Sighs is true; if you go to Europe just once in your life, head straight to Venice. The highlight of our trip was definitely riding the ferry boat with the sun setting behind the Basilica de San Giovanni; I could attempt to describe it, but there really are no words.

Two days before we left, we drove to Florence, thoroughly confused the entire way because apparently the Italians call it “Firenze.” The drive was a gorgeous, three-hour excursion through Tuscany, with curvy bridges and dark tunnels over miles and miles of stunning countryside. Once there, you realize that the entire city is a mass of peach buildings with red roofs, sort of like suburbia but much more exotic. Unlike Milan, the shops and restaurants (even the high-end ones) are small and feel hidden, nothing flashy like in major cities, which makes this town even more picturesque and charming. Of course, we could not leave without checking out the Uffizi, one of the pre-eminent art museums in Europe, with Michelangelo’s “David” in his enormous glory.

Back in Milan, we spent a good portion of our time exploring the Duomo, a European cathedral that often is overshadowed by Paris’s Notre Dame, but I assure you it is no less fantastic. As the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world, you can only imagine how impressive the spires and altars are. The roof is open to visitors; for five Euros, you can circumnavigate the building and see the entire city from every angle. Simply put, it’s a panoramic shot that no camera lens can capture; you really have to experience this thrill for yourself.

When our break was over and school and responsibilities demanded our return, I was heartbroken to leave this amazing place, so full of nice people, great shops, and delicious food. Though it was not the Thanksgiving that Norman Rockwell depicted, I think that even he would agree the Italian experience is one that anyone would be lucky to have.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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sage.l said...
Jul. 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm
every leaf has its light.just like the special is worth remembering
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