Florence, Napels, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Capri, Pisciotta
In the summer of 2001 I left New York for my first time overseas. The college I attended, SUNY Purchase in upstate New York hosted an summer abroad semester Pisciotta Italy in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania. We flew into Rome, spent a few days, and took a 9 hour bus ride south to our new home on the Eastern Coast of Italy for the next 5 weeks. It was a particularly memorable drive because Italian buses were evidently not built for someone my size, 6 foot 3, 200 or so pounds at the time. My inability to put my legs straight for the 9 hour ride, was a lesson in traveling and I took it in stride. I knew being this far away from home was going to offer its own unique challenges.
Pisciotta was an medieval town right on the edge of the water, 15 minutes down the steep hill, but 30 minutes back. A beautiful, yet small, piazza with cafes and groceries; the restaurants tucked away around corners or just before and after you enter the town on cliffs overlooking the water. A perfect little town, seemingly out of a dream.
We were up early in the mornings, grabbing fresh croissants with jam or chocolate right out of the oven, and small cappuccinos before runnig off to class. We studied Italian first, then an hour for an elected class, Art, Marine Biology and only one for me: Jazz Band. After lunch, we had time to ourselves, which usually called for the 2nd shower of the day, to stay dry in the amazingly hot southern Italian summer. Perhaps a nap, or a visit to a friends apartment to try to stay out of the sun. Once the sun passed overhead, we could spend time on the beach or at a cafe before dinner at a local restaurant. Each night like clockwork the group would find ourselves congregating in the piazza with a few Peroni's or glasses of local red wine to end the evening. On the weekends and certain afternoons we would take excursions all over Italy sometimes extending into the next week. Florence, Naples, the Amalfi Coast including Capri, as well as the historic sites like Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum. The jazz band played about 6 gigs in the town. I played guitar; not particularly well; but it was a great experience that brought jazz into my life in a big way.
It was a life changing trip that sparked my never ending journey to explore the world. It opened my eyes to many new experiences and foods. I learned to enjoy Italian food at a higher level and found a new appreciation for vegetables. Italy was so beautiful and the trip so exciting, that 2 years later my then girlfriend and now wife decided to join me in Italy again. We returned to Pisciotta with Purchase College in the Summer of 2013.