My father urged me all semester to contact my family from Italy and visit them. Little did I know the amount of love I would receive and the amount of joy I would feel when I visited my family in Milan. I headed out for Milan early Saturday morning and I met some other college students on the train as well. It’s always nice to meet other local students and meeting people is one of my favorite parts of traveling! When I arrived in Milan I was greeted by two women, a man, and Manuelle who is my age. It was strange that I had never met any of them yet some kind of family bond brought us together. Soon enough these strangers became individuals I love and trust. After breakfast we headed towards the duomo. I didn’t expect much from Milan but I was immediately shocked by the beautiful cathedral. When I entered the majestic, gothic building I was awestruck. Stained glass is always my favorite part of a church and this stained glass was some of the most beautiful stained glass I had ever seen. As the sun shone through the colored glass it reflected thousands of hues of colors on the interior columns of the church. I could not take my eyes off the beauty! We then walked to the top of the duomo where we saw a gorgeous view of the city. The city was decorated perfectly for Christmas and everyone seemed in tune with the holiday season. After exploring the city we headed out to lunch! It was quite wonderful and I fell in love with the city, not because of its beauty but because of the company with whom I was traveling. We then went to a gorgeous art museum where I saw many famous pieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, Pacaso, and more! It was wonderful and I could write pages and pages about my thoughts and how I felt when in the presence of such amazing pieces. After the art museum we headed to my family’s home in a nearby city. We skyped my father, which was a highlight, I could tell he was genuinely happy,which made me even happier. We had dinner at Cesar’s house the father of the two women (Silvia and Monica). When I walked into Caesar’s home I was greeted with so much love and joy, it was unreal. Cesar’s wife would not stop hugging and kissing me. I felt at home right away and the also made me homemade vegetarian pasta and fresh salad, bread, and dessert. Sitting with my family at dinner, being in communion with one another under so much love, was by far the best moment of my semester. Their love was exactly what I needed. I had had a difficult week prior due to the stress of finals and tests but being there and spending that moment with my family seemed to make everything alright. That night we looked through old photos from the early 1900s of my family that moved to America from Italy, it was so special! Caesar also informed me that the vary house I was in was built solely with the money sent by my relatives that moved to America. We looked at the many letters that were sent between our family in Italy and in America. We also attempted to piece together the relationship between our two families but it was not easy. We know we are related but we just cannot figure out how. I think they’re similar to the relation of second cousins. That night I stayed at.Monica’s beautiful home where I sat by the fire and was taught by Umberto (her 11 year old son) how to play guitar. Monica also showed me her little ceramic making studio where she makes, paints, and glazes ceramic pieces. It was the sweetest! She says I can make them with her someday, I cannot wait for that day! After a quiet night with Manuelle and Umberto, I headed off to bed. Monica had prepared a comfy bed for me as well-how kind of her! The next morning we headed to breakfast and the entire family came to Monica’s home, they then invited me to stay with them during Christmas! I am going to stay with them this Christmas after I finish my travels through Germany and Austria- then I will head to Milan where I will spend 5 days during Christmas with my family. After breakfast we headed towards a mini pilgrimage where we hiked up a mountain that had various chapels along the way that depicted scenes of the life of Jesus. It was a beautiful place and it was even better because I was with beautiful people. At the top of the mountain we got lunch, fresh pasta, and all talked for hours. I felt so loved and like I truly had place, there with my family. After lunch all of them took me to the trains station- they all gave up their afternoons for me! They traveled the 40 minute car drive and 3 metro stops to the station to see me off! It was such a kind act of love I could hardly believe it! After kisses and sweet farewells we were all in tears. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I would be back soon. And, I left Milan feeling loved, appreciated, and cared for which was more than I could have ever asked for. It was this that helped me push through my last few weeks of projects and final exams. As I was leaving Milan, they chased after the moving train, waving and smiling with so much love. Two days can do a lot to a person and those two days not only gave me joy but taught me how to love in a far deeper way. A few days after my return to Florence I hand wrote letters to my family members, in order to keep up the tradition of correspondence through letters going. I cannot wait to spend Christmas with my loving family, until then I will continue to travel on.
Stay true, live justly and always travel on. Peace and love.












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