BRESCIA, Italy — For summer vacations, Italians usually like to go to the sea or to a lake.
Italy has tons of gorgeous beach destinations, mostly down south, in Sicily, Puglia and such.
Lakes in the north are beautiful. I live very close to two of them. One is Lago di Garda (Lake Garda), the largest lake in Italy. The shores of Lago di Garda are cluttered with fancy hotels and spas. In the summer, the streets of that area fill up with tourists from all over the world.
The other lake nearby is Lago dIseo (Lake Iseo). This one is much smaller, but I think its my favorite. Ive been spending a lot of time around Lago dIseo now that school is out. To me, it feels more natural and genuine than Lago di Garda. There arent the throngs of tourists milling about and it isnt crowded or spoiled in any way. The water is clear and mountains surround the lake. I think Lago dIseo is one of Italys hidden jewels.
I spent Wednesday at Lago dIseo with my friend, Asena Eren, from Turkey. She and her host family live in Sulzano, one of the small towns along the shore. We went to a public beach and took a swim, and then we rested on towels in the grass and talked about how strange it is to have only 18 days left here.
The day before, Asenas host sister came home from her yearlong exchange in Costa Rica. It was the first time that they got to meet.
It feels strange, Asena told me. I like her a lot, and Im happy to finally meet her, but I feel like its her life Ive been living this whole year, not mine. Now that shes back to reclaim it, I have to give her this life back and go home to Turkey, but I dont want to do that.
I remember that I found a piece of rainbow-colored string in the grass at that point in the conversation, and I was playing with it as we spoke. I feel like Ive been living someone elses life, too, I said.
And then we didnt talk about it any more. We just looked out across the water, silent for a while. Thats how it is with my exchange student friends. We know we all feel the same about this and when its said aloud and when it isnt somehow it always makes the hard parts easier.
A shuttle boat, taking people back and forth to Monte Isola, the big island in the middle of the lake, passed by. So did some ducks. We started making some plans for the last of our days here. As the end of this experience approaches, we want to fill up our time with as many adventures as we can.
When we finished sunbathing, we went back up to Asenas house. Its a ways up a curly road on one of the mountains and has an excellent view. We had some spare time so we decided to cook a traditional Turkish dessert for Asenas host family. We made a pudding out of milk, sugar and starch, then we watched a movie while it chilled in the fridge. Asenas host mom made us pasta with oil and tomatoes for dinner, and then we took the pudding out of the fridge, and served it with vanilla gelato, powdered sugar and a few squirts of rose water. It was yummy and very easy to make, so Ive added another recipe to my resume!
After dinner I took a slow train back to Brescia and came home to Botticino. I hope that the rest of my days here turn out as full and enjoyable as this one.
Chandler West is a Rock Hill High School student who is spending her senior year in Italy. She writes about her adventures abroad each week in The Herald and heraldonline.com