The Long Awaited Vacation That Changed Many Things In My Life.

You must get out of your comfort zone to truly understand who you are!

Positano Italy June 2017

You must get out of your comfort zone to truly understand who you are!

by Nunzia Brancaccio Stark, Blogger; @ionunzia on Instagram

My recent trip to Italy has changed my life in a myriad of ways. It helped me overcome my apprehension towards flying, and it made me get out of my comfort zone. It helped me reflect on my life and learn more about myself and people.

One of my favorite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

I glued that quote in my mind, and I did what I kept postponing for a long time. How did I do it? Simple — my happiness and excitement about travelling and going home to see my family took over my apprehensive feelings about flying.

On the morning of June 13th 2017, I boarded a plane from Austin, Texas and flew home to Italy! I did so without taking any medication. I wanted to be fully aware, and to enjoy every moment, even unexpected situations like turbulence. When our captain announced that we were going to face tough weather while flying over France, it was all good. I remained calm and kept reading my book. I was in control! Knowing that you can deal with these situations is a big boost of self-confidence.

I was not always nervous about flying. My husband and I travelled to many places in Europe and the United States. However, after September 11th I became very nervous about flying. As humans it is not unusual to feel apprehensive about things especially after the traumatic events that took place on that horrible day. In a world full of uncertainties everyone is afraid of something. Even the most fearless and daring people have their limits.

As the day of our departure for Italy was getting near my mission was to keep all the negative thoughts about flying out of my head. On most days I could do so. As we were getting closer negative thoughts about flying became a major soundtrack in my brain. For me there was only one thing left to do; ignore it. As I was busy finalizing all the preparations for our vacation worrying about flying was not the only issue I was concerned with. I was also worrying about TSA. We often read negative stories about them on the news and social media. Regardless I did not let anything stop me. I was ready to go home.

Before I knew it we were in line and checking our bags. On that morning I learned that not all airport employees are super friendly and helpful. At the check-in counter for our luggage the employee was not very helpful or friendly. I noticed if someone would dare ask her a question she would either ignore them or with an annoyed look on her face she would point her finger to a nearby computer. As for the TSA agents it was a piece of cake! As long as you pay attention and quickly do what they ask you to do you are a rock star. My experience with them was very positive. They do not have the easiest job. In NYC the lines were very long full of people trying to go through security but those agents kept the lines moving fast. Thank you!

After twelve hours and two flights we landed in Naples. The weather was super-hot. It took a few days for us to get adjusted to the heat. People over there are not crazy about using air conditioning. As a reminder every time you go on vacation be aware of the weather. During the summer it is important to dress in shorts and drink plenty of water. Also do not forget to pack your favorite pair of sneakers and your favorite cap.

Lake Garda — June 2017

I was in a daze. I could not believe that I was standing under the beautiful skies and sun of my city. My family was there to greet us at the airport. Was I dreaming?

We discovered that one of the best ways to get around Italy when you are travelling is to rent a car. As my husband and I were heading to my sister’s house I noticed a huge amount of traffic. It takes great skills to drive in a large city like Naples. Those drivers have incredible depth perception and know the exact sizes of their cars. They are very impatient but are great drivers overall.

My brother, a Municipal Police Lieutenant explained to me that passengers are not required to wear seatbelts in the backseat and that the law is tough if you are caught using your phone by the police while driving.

On the same day we arrived we started our tour of Naples a super-busy port city. We walked around Mergellina the coast section of Naples located near the quartier of Chiaia. From there we could see Posillipo hills where we shopped during special events when I lived there.

As we were walking, there was only one thing on my mind: pizza! Naples is the home of the best pizza in the world, and while I was there during my visit, I had plenty of it. Counting calories as I normally do at home was not an issue for me at that time. While you are in Naples, there are so many choices of places to visit and things to do. Growing up there I was never bored.

On that day while I was looking around I felt like Alice in Wonderland. As I was looking at the beautiful sunset I knew that I was standing in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

During our trip through southern Italy we visited Amalfi and Positano. If you are planning to visit those areas I highly suggest doing so during the week. Driving to those places is not easy mainly because the roads are very winding. If you go on a weekend you will share those very winding and narrow roads with huge tour buses.

As we drove through Tuscany the view from the highway was breathtaking. The movie Under the Tuscan Sun was there in front of my eyes! I also had a chance to visit other beautiful places such as Carpi, Lake Garda, Verona, and Juventus Stadium.

Travelling to Italy was truly an amazing experience for me and my family. It was just the way I dreamed it would be. Dreams do come true!

I can honestly say that the trip brought me so much joy. It had a profound effect on me. At the end of my visit I was able to connect with a side of my family that I have not seen or heard from in years.

I believe that getting away gives you the opportunity to reflect on your goals and life. This trip has given my self-confidence a huge boost and it especially built my confidence about travelling.

For the rest of my life I will always cherish these great memories. Ciao!

Originally published at

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