This post has taken me awhile to blog. These past two months have been crazy busy. I've been bombarded by editing, shooting and catching up with life at home but I'm finally ready to tell you about my amazing trip to Italy. A lot of you have been emailing me saying things like "We can't wait to see the photos! We can't wait to hear all about it! We're so excited!" Well, here's your chance. I spent an amazing two weeks in Italy with my friend Alessandro and his family. Overall, it was an absolute amazing experience and I can't wait to go back.
Before I dive into the trip itself, I just want to say a few things about my dream to travel over seas. Growing up, my family didn't have the privilege to travel much. When we said we were going to travel, that meant going into Providence or going up to Boston. That was the extent of it. I remember one time we went to Six Flags. It was two hours away and we ended up staying the night there in this dingy motel. We thought that was traveling. Being a big dreamer, I always dreamed that we would one day travel across seas together. That I would be able to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, see the Colosseum in Rome and visit my dream country, Ireland. However, my family didn't come from money. We weren't considered "poor" but we weren't considered rich either. Traveling two hours away was expensive enough, we could never afford a flight, a cruise, or even gas money to travel anywhere else. After 9/11, my family was even more afraid to travel. To this day my mom, grandmother, and my sister have never been on a plane, boat or even a train. I wanted to tell you this for one specific reason...Keep following your dreams. I came from nothing and was just able to travel across the world for the first time. It was only because a lot of dedication, hard work, positive energy and prayer that it was able to happen. I know what your thinking "Ryan, I have dedication, I work hard, and I'm positive but money is the issue!" Trust me, I know how you feel. My advice? Keep working hard, keep being dedicated and keep thinking positive. When Alessandro invited me to stay with him and his family in Italy, I looked at my bank account and said "there is no way." A few weeks later, I logged back in and had just enough for the flight - down to the exact penny. I took a leap of faith and said "God, you're in control" and booked the flight. I was worried about paying my rent that month, my utility bills and everything else but somehow, I had enough for all of that and more. I truly believe it was a gift from God. I've always prayed my dreams would come true and they're finally starting to. So, keep praying, keep giving, keep positive, keep driving, and keep working hard. It'll all pay off. Never give up because someone told you no or you can't. Prove them all wrong and follow your dreams.
These mountains are all over Sicily. Their crazy right?!
After breakfast the first morning, I met Roberto. He's been selling fish downtown for 20 years. It's how he makes his living and he loves it. I asked him if I could grab his portrait and he smiled and said, of course!
Kelsey told me to take a photo of one of those cafès that we saw when looking up Italy. You know, the ones that are in the middle of the street with the little chairs, umbrellas and coffee? Here you go Kels!
This is Alessandro. He's marring my dear friend, Isabelle very soon. Without him my trip wouldn't have been possible. He pushed me to book the flight and then he welcomed me into his home and his family without thinking twice. I am so blessed to know him and his amazing family.
This was interesting to me. In Italy, there are no dryers. Everyone hangs their clothes out to dry on their porch! Saving electricity and better yet, now their clothes wont shrink!
After visiting the "old city" we snuck into this beautiful church. We had no idea there was a service going on though!
The next day, Alessandro's Aunt, Uncle and cousins invited us to visit a private beach that they were members of. It was beautiful.
This is what I miss most from Italy. The coffee. At first, I found out that they call their espresso drinks (latès and cappuccinos) coffee, so I had to explain to them that in America we have coffee and then we have espresso drinks. They were so confused haha! Needless to say, their espresso was amazing. At first, I couldn't drink it. It was so strong and dark but after a few shots of it, I was fine. I would have about 4-5 shots a day (which is normal). Boy, I miss that.
I miss this family a lot. They spent a lot of time with us, cooked amazing meals and we all ate a lot of gelato together.
The following day we went to my favorite city out of the whole trip: Cefalu. The city was beautiful.
When we were in the city we found this kids jumping of the road into the water. After watching for awhile, we were able to grab one of the older kids and ask him if we could grab a few shots of him and maybe a portrait or two. He was excited and didn't hesitate a bit!
The sunset was so perfect that night that I had to give Ale his own little photoshoot.
After exploring Cefalu, the next day Alessandro, his friend Roberto and I headed to Viva Maria. We rented a little boat for the day and explored everything around Sicily on water. This was probably the highlight of the trip. The photos I took this day are some of my favorite.
We met these ladies on the boat who wanted some privacy. However, once they found out I was an american photographer, they welcomed us, and even gave us some of their pizza!
I couldn't take all the photos! I had to be in a few!
Somehow they convinced me to jump off this cliff. I know it's hard to see but that's me up there!
After we docked the boat, we found this group of older gentlemen sitting outside a garage. Come to find out, they were boat makers. I couldn't resist asking to take their photos. The character in their faces just told a story...
When researching Sicily, I found this place known as Alcantara - The photos speak for themselfs. This water was 32 degrees fahrenheit and I braved it to take these awesome photos. Just for you.
Alessandro's dad was so generous the whole entire time i was there. This place was over 2 hours away and he didn't mind driving us there at all. He didn't even go in the water and enjoy it! He was just happy that his son and his friend was happy :)
Speaking of Ale's dad, I should mention and thank him and Ale's mom here. They were beyond kind to me. They treated me like family and never once make me feel left out of any conversation they had (which it's easy to feel that way when your in a country and don't speak the language). When Alessandro told me that they've never taken professional photos together, we knew what the perfect gift for them might be...They are just too cute and oh so stylish!
On one of my last days there we took a mini cruise to all the different islands around Sicily with Alessandro's church group: In Cristo. These guys were a blast!
Somehow, I even met a guy with an Awakening hat on (nope! It wasn't mine!)
And that's it folks! I had such a blast in Sicily. Would I do it again? Of course. This time, I'd bring a few friends along with me to experience it all for the first time again. The country is beautiful, the people have golden hearts and the food is to die for. If you're thinking about going to Sicily, GO. It's amazing.
To my Sicilian friends: (Ai miei amici siciliane:)
Grazie per aver reso il mio viaggio così speciale e memorabile. Voi tutti mi trattati come famiglia con un sacco di amore. Spero vi sia piaciuto guardare indietro a queste foto e ricordare tutto il divertimento che abbiamo avuto insieme! Spero di visitare tutto il giorno presto e forse uno, avrete l'occasione di visitare qui. Le mie porte sono sempre aperte per chi vuole soggiornare. Anche se, forse si dovrà fare tutto il cucinare! Vi amo tutti e vi ringrazio ancora una volta.