Italy reminds me so much of home. I spent my childhood playing hopscotch in the desert air with the Sangre de Cristo mountains, a comforting fixed point seen from my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The walls of the buildings here, buildings that are older than the formal establishment of the United States, smell like adobe, and the tuscan cypress trees make me think of skinny piñon trees. But the views here are unlike home, in so many marvelous ways. On our day trip to Cortona, after getting out of a taxi ride that climbed the hillside, we spent the first ten minutes staring in awe at the landscape. The Chiana Valley seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, and even under a dripping sky, lake Trasimeno glistened from sunlight that broke through the clouds. It was the third time during this study abroad experience that I felt my breath stolen by the landscape. The first was at Pompeii, under Mt.Vesuvius, and the second was at Capri. But this was beautiful in a different way. As we walked through the tiny streets of Cortona, our small group was enraptured by the picturesque views that could be found down every winding alleyway. The sprinkling rain set a comfortable temperature and the little shops glowed a bit brighter compared to the deep blue clouds above them. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being taken away by how each town is layered with history, architecture and art. We were lucky enough to be in Cortona during Cortona on the Move, an international photography festival, and were able to see a handful of photography exhibits, in addition to some incredible art galleries. Cortona is also home to two fantastic museums: an Etruscan museum and the Diocesan Museum, just outside of a Roman Catholic cathedral. Some of us – not including myself – braved the steep hills of Cortona to visit the Basilica di Santa Margherita and were able to see an even more fantastic view of the Tuscan countryside. Instead, I opted to sketch in the Piazza della Repubblica, while the younger Landi played soccer and local musicians filled the square with guitar strums. Moments like this, here in Italy, are comforting since they remind me of home, but they add to my life experiences in ways that home never could.