The majority of these 5 weeks I will be spending my time in the small town of Ascoli Piceno, which is located in central Italy, about 45 minutes from the Adriatic coast.
Every day when I walk into my apartment, I am speechless. The 10 foot tall ceilings, marble floors, chandeliers, and walk around balcony create a simple but sophisticated style I am now obsessed with.
Very few people in the town speak English and we all stick out like sore thumbs. To be honest, before I came here I thought I was decently tan and somewhat stylish. Boy was I wrong. Shades of tan aside, all of the people are genuinely friendly and helpful. Smiles and laughs are constantly exchanged, even after my very poor attempts to speak the language.
Similar to my own family, traditions are highly valued here. For example, this past week I experienced a taste of the annual competition between the six neighborhoods, known as La Quintana. In the morning or after dusk the represented groups assemble for flag throwing and jousting competitions in the piazzas, as their spirited family and friends flood the streets after them. While La Quintana is a competition that divides the town into neighborhoods, the sense of unity is evident. Even on a quiet day in town you can feel the harmony of the community.
Although I continue to catch my jaw dropping to the floor at the beautiful piazzas and I am still working on not twisting my ankles as I walk on the cobblestone streets, Ascoli feels like a second home already.