I'd traveled a lot before I reached Italy and visited so many countries. For some crazy reason, Italy never appealed to the younger me. I visited Paris, Spain, London, Brazil. So many places but somehow, I'd missed out on Italy.
Only in my early twenties did I finally visit Italy.
Arriving late at night, I dozed on the way in from the airport and arrived at a little Italian bed and breakfast in the center of an ancient town.
Still half asleep, I went straight to my room and slept.
Until first light, when the musical sounds of Italian, the aromas of Italian coffee, and a cacophony of other noises awoke me: those little three wheeled vans and vespas buzzing about, cars hooting and a very loud market trader shouting something about pomodori.
The sun peeped through the slats, and a bright light patterned the room.
I went to the window and threw open the wooden shutters.
In came Italy!
Under a bright Italian sun, the theater of market day in an Italian piazza played out before me. I watched spellbound and enchanted.
From that very moment, I understood that Italy should have been my first destination. I was overcome with emotion; I felt a lump rising in my throat.
I was home.
Elsewhere, around the globe, I'd seen incredible sights: I'd gazed at wondrous spectacles of nature, hiked through forests and across endless savannas, and seen cities that rose from desert plains while reaching for the skies. I'd met incredibly friendly people and seen the Southern Cross in the night skies of Africa.
It was all awesome, inspiring, and fun. It wasn't anything like the feeling I experienced in Italy.
Italy felt like I'd come home. I can't explain it. I am not of Italian descent, and yet this was where I felt I belonged.
I remember stepping into a little church, all alone. I fell to my knees and cried for the first time in maybe a decade. I couldn't stop.
I still travel a lot and visit beautiful places. Yet, despite what my family tree might say or my country of birth, it is in Italy that I feel as if I have come home.
So, when people ask me what nationality I am, I no longer answer based on a piece of paper. I answer based on what my heart and soul tell me.
Io sono Italiano... I am Italian.
So, don't worry about the weather or anything else, just get yourself to Italy as soon as you possibly can. It might just change your life.