17 Little Struggles I Encountered In Italy


Like most Millennial girls, I have a slew of photos of Cinque Terre pinned to my travel-themed board on Pinterest. (The board is titled “wanderlust.” Most days, I have trouble finding the energy to wander past my couch, but at least my social media presence is aspirational.) Even if you don’t know Cinque Terre by name, you’ve probably seen the photos. Imagine dozens of bright, multi-colored houses perched on a cliff overlooking a sandy beach and a deep blue sea. Sound familiar? The name translates to “five lands,” and refers to a group of five villages along the coast of northwest Italy.

I don’t expect most of my Pinterest dreams to come true — although if anyone can install this “press for champagne” button in my apartment, please get in touch ASAP. But when I realized I had two weeks off of school for spring break during my semester abroad in Paris, I jumped at the chance to spend a few days in Cinque Terre.

My friend Roshan and I planned a week-long trip through Greece and Italy, spending the bulk of the time in Cinque Terre. After I uploaded our vacation photos, I kept hearing from friends, “Your spring break looks so beautiful! You must have had an amazing time!”

That’s partially true. And even though the actual villages of Cinque Terre themselves were lovely, our vacation wasn’t. Maybe we skimped too much on travel plans. Instead of direct flights, we spent two full days on trains, buses, and planes getting there and back; instead of staying in a charming bed and breakfast in Cinque Terre, we stayed in a tiny Airbnb that lacked some basic amenities (like one bed per person and WiFi). Because we were there during the off-season, we stood under a broken umbrella in the rain on the beach, instead of, you know, actually swimming. So Italy was a bit of a disappointment.

Yes, our vacation looked beautiful. But sometimes, pictures aren’t quite worth a 1000 words. Here are just a few things we were told during our vacation.

“You just missed the bus.”

“You’re on the wrong train.”

“You wanted the train on the opposite platform. Too late now.”

“No, you can’t call a taxi. There’s only one taxi driver in town, and he’s busy right now.”

“No, you can’t use our bathroom.”

“Sorry, we only have a squat toilet.”

“No, you can’t sit there.”

“This restaurant is closed. Come back at 7:00.”

“This restaurant is closed. Come back at 8:00.”

“Don’t pet that cat. It might have rabies.”

“No, there’s no WiFi in the apartment. Is that a problem for you?”

“Yes, this restaurant has WiFi, but we forgot the password.”

“Sorry, we do have WiFi, but it isn’t working right now. It should be fixed sometime next year.”

“Sorry, we don’t have any cranberry juice for your Cosmo. I know it’s your birthday. I’m sorry.”

“We don’t have any birthday cake. Would you like some potato chips instead?”

“No, I’ve never heard of that. What’s a mimosa? How do you make one?”

All that was understandable. To be fair, we were in suburban Italy during the off-season. But the real kicker? The one phrase that no Pinterest-loving Millennial ever wants to hear?

“Sorry, I don’t understand. What is brunch? I don’t think we have that here.”

My spring break might not have been James Franco-levels of catastrophe, but it made me appreciate my daily life just a little bit more. And tomorrow at 11 a.m., you can find me digging into a pile of eggs and bacon and pancakes with a mimosa on the side.

image – Christine Zenino