Amazing Kids! Magazine

Finding the Hidden Treasures of Italy

By Mehak Anwar, age 16, Washington


When you think of Italy, what comes to mind? Most people think of delicious Italian food like pizza and pasta, and jolly people talking in sing-song voices. They think of beautiful, elaborate churches rich with their Roman Catholic history, and museums filled with paintings by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Many people think of the Colosseum, home of the once-epic gladiatorial battles, and the peculiar Leaning Tower of Pisa where, it’s been said, the Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo conducted one of his experiments.

So when I first arrived in Rome, Italy, I didn’t feel too enthralled. I felt like I had already seen it all in pictures, movies and magazines. What made me less excited was that everyone in Rome seemed to be a tourist. American couples with their sun hats and Hawaiian shirts and school groups from other countries flooded the streets. Everyone spoke English, including the street vendors and the natives; even the advertisements were in English! I realized that since there was so much non-Italian culture, I didn’t even feel like I was in Italy. Where were the real Italians? Where was all the stuff I hadn’t heard about on T.V.?

Our next stop after Rome was a small city called Taormina. Taormina is a town right on the Mediterranean, located on the eastern side of Sicily. It’s a very quiet, calm, and warm city, so when I first stepped foot on the soft sand of a Taormina beach, I was able to peacefully breathe in a lungful of Mediterranean air. It was very different from Rome—here I could see the sky and the rolling hills in the distance, whereas in Rome all I saw were shops and tall buildings. In Taormina, I was able to take in aromas of the city, like the scents of warm pizza dough coming from Italian clay ovens or the whiffs of citrus from the lemon trees. I also got an opportunity to really meet the people, and use my (very minimal!) Italian to communicate with the locals. But the most interesting part of Taormina was the food. We didn’t eat your typical run-of-the-mill Italian pizza and pasta—we actually tried dishes with fruits and vegetables that are only locally grown, and special kinds of soups and salads exclusively prepared by Taorminian chefs. Unlike Rome, I was able to really get a feel for culture in Taormina, from the smells and the tastes to the people and the sights.

So if you ever decide to head over to la bella Italia, make sure to keep your eye out for the hidden treasures of this treasure laden country. Remember, there’s more to Italy than just sports cars and ravioli!