Seeing

Posted by Bill Steiner – Adventures in Italy

What do we see when we travel? Sometimes not much. And sometimes less than we think.

This all came home to me the other day as we were taking a walk through our neighborhood.  It is a new neighborhood, for we have just moved this past month. We had been looking for over a year and a half. In those eighteen months we made multiple trips and drove dozens of times through our new environs. So we thought we knew it. But our walk was the first time we had seen it on foot. Boy, did we miss a lot! Happily, after our walk, I liked our new surroundings even more. I saw levels of detail, things of interest and beauty and intrigue that I completely missed in all those driving trips. It was a wonderful walk of discovery.

Orvieto, Italy

Having time to savor the view in Orvieto

It reminded me that this is what it is to travel with us or any of the members of Slow Travel Tours. We “walk” rather than “drive” on our trips. If you really want to get to know a place and a culture, walking is a much better mode of transport. Italy is rich in things to see. In fact, it can be overwhelming. If you want to see it all, you rush and hurry from one amazing site to another. In the end, it becomes a blur and it is hard to remember it at all. We were talking with Jill Berry, who will be doing a workshop for us in Orvieto in the fall of 2011, about her trip. She commented on how often one travels without  really seeing anything. I think it has happened to all of us.

How do we see more when we travel? There area number of ways to do it successfully.

  • Visit fewer places and sites. It’s ironic, but we actually see more, by seeing less. Don’t cram the day full of activities or things to see.
  • Take time to digest what you see. This really is a function of visiting fewer places. If you aren’t rushing off to the next site, you spend more time with where you are and are able to more fully appreciate it.
  • Engage all your senses. One of the joys of travel is that we tend to use our senses more and our head less – thus a richer experience. Consciously being aware of what you are seeing, feeling, hearing, touching, smelling (tasting while eating of course) brings the experience to life and imprints it in memory.
  • Take time to write in a journal, or simply reflect if you prefer, every day of your journey. This allows you to implant those experiences in your mind, to relish what you saw or ate or felt. It takes time, which we are wont to give, but it pays off.

Travel is an act of discovery. Its richness derives from experiencing something new or in a new context. Taking time to relish each experience of the journey yields the most satisfying kind of trip.

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Adventures in Italy

Bill and Kristi in Orta

Kristi and Bill Steiner began leading “learning vacations”  to Orvieto, Italy in 2003. Through Adventures in Italy they provide a cultural immersion experience. Many trips include the pursuit of some kind of creative work that complements and reinforces exploration of Italy’s culture. Relationships built over the years enable Kristi and Bill to provide experiences that a typical visitor to Orvieto never gets. Trips are held in May and September/October every year. Their Discover Orvieto and Girlfriend Getaway trips are available to groups any time of the year. Learn more about Kristi and Bill’s trips.

Stay abreast of Adventures in Italy developments, and follow Bill’s musings about travel and Italy on his blog Make Haste Slowly.

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One Response to Seeing

  1. Valerie says:

    Good advice…and so true! Even after three years in Ascoli Piceno, we would walk streets we’ve passed through dozens of times and still notice new little details we hadn’t seen before.

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