Greetings from Penang! After 3 days on this island I am finally getting an idea of where I am and what I will be doing. Penang is unlike any place I have ever visited before and I cannot wait to see more. After initial homesickness and questions of “what am I doing here?”, I finally feel more at home.
But before I indulge in thoughts of the culture, climate, and activities of Penang, I first need to post my last day in Italy! Enjoy :-).
Our last day in Italy was absolute perfection. To start, we enjoyed another long family lunch at our friend’s parents house once again. There was yet another delicious homemade meal with several courses and way more food than you could possibly imagine. I finally overdid it during the 3 different desserts and was promptly put into a food coma.
Eating for 3 hours will do that to ya.
After lunch our friend had a surprise trip in mind and whisked us away towards Turin as the light began to dwindle in the sky. Soon enough we were driving up a steep mountain towards a beautiful building perched at the top. The sun was beginning to set so we had to hurry! Andiamo formaggio! (inside joke and popular catchphrase with our group)
A gorgeous basilica, bathed in a warm light, awaited us at the top.
Lucky for us, we arrived to this view in the nick of time:
We were at the Basilica di Superga overlooking the city of Turin. From above you could see the hazy glow of the city surrounded by the majestic Alps. It was stunning. I realized this was the same mountain we could see from our friend’s house.
The Basilica di Superga is a church built from 1717 to 1731 of the late Baroque-Classicalism style. It houses the tombs of many princes and kings from the House of Savoy. Of course we had to take an Italian-language-only tour of the tombs below the Basilica. Obviously I learned a lot. Haha!
I fell in love with the architecture which looked incredible in the pink light of the setting sun. Magnifico! This is why I love Italy: amazing old buildings like this are commonplace. Well actually, churches, churches, and more churches are commonplace! And yes, the basilica is a church.
After our tour of the tombs, we walked up a steep spiral staircase to the roof. You know, one of those never-ending staircases that make you nauseous with the constant circular creep against the wall. I was relieved to reach the top quickly. By this time it was dark and the lights of the city were bright in the distance. All of Turin lay before us, sandwiched between the mountains and Po river.
In addition to taking in the view (and shivering in the cold), I had some fun with long exposures on my camera. Have you ever done this before? Select a slow shutter speed and then move the camera around while the shutter is open. Viola!! You have a beautiful light show.
Somehow the basilica looked even more magical illuminated at night. The contrast of light and dark really brought out the details of the Baroque architecture. Amazing!
I never wanted to leave the rooftop and the crisp breeze caressing my face. I felt like I was on top of the world, the stars just within reach and the city at my feet. But eventually I had to fall from heaven and come back down to earth. It was time to go. This was truly the perfect ending to a wonderful trip in Italy. Ascending the Basilica di Superga at night was the perfect goodbye to this magical country.
The next day it was time to leave. Already?? We woke up early and drove to the airport (correction: I slept, they drove). Before going through security I made sure to enjoy one last espresso and chocolate croissant. God I will miss those. I will miss Italy.
As much as I enjoy living all over Asia, Italy will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first country I visited without my family. During a high school exchange program, I spent 6 weeks in Florence, Pisa, Venice, and Rome. Thinking back on it now, this trip instilled a longing in my heart for travel, adventure, and culture. Italy is where my love affair with travel began! Because of that, returning to Italy will always be like seeing an old friend again, familiar yet new.
Till next time Italy.