“There are moments that I know I will long for, even as I live them.”

      Cannot believe it was almost a year ago, May of 2014. When I was on my way to Europe with my camera and seventeen new friends. It feels like yesterday morning I was boarding a plane, the morning following my college graduation; my dad dropping me off at the airport, bright excited eyes ready to take on the world. It was the kind of thing you savor. Those days that were so surreal you question how real they actually were and try as hard as you can to slow time down. I was a day into adulthood, a 24-hour long college graduate with my passport and DSLR in hand, hardly prepared for the adventure before me. I’ll never forget the first two days of delirious exhaustion, the time I couldn’t hold my head up in the train station in Rome, and the feeling of first opening our curtains to our bedroom window in Tuscany, with the first heavenly view of rolling green hills and bright little houses.

      It was there I found my heart at rest, even in the running and busy and everyday adventure. This dream of a place called Italy. It was beautiful, it was overwhelming, it was everything.

      Cortona was like coming back home. Slow and deliberate, authentic, and personal in the way all small towns are. Florence was fast-paced, wonderful, sandwiches-on-the-go, and exhausting: art, museums, passion, music, history, a beautiful sunset, and cobblestone streets that left me wanting to be carried everywhere we walked. Sorento was magic, whimsical and welcoming, and Positano, the lovely colorful town by the sea, where we drank mimosas in the shade and shopped Italian boutiques. The Isle of Capri was a pure dream, as if we were able to live someone else’s life for a day. It was jumping off a boat to swim in the Mediterranean Sea, seafood at a restaurant on the water, chocolate cheesecake, and calling it a day on the beach. And Rome, with the best cappuccinos and the busiest streets, the Coliseum, Vatican city, and staying in the sweetest boutique hotel you ever did see.

      I could look back on the journal I kept, and I can still tell of the experience. I could talk about the photo critiques that lasted until 2am. I could whine just thinking about hauling our weeks-worth-of-stuff around from city to city, on those dreaded travel days we always prayed would be easier on us than the last. I could talk about sleep deprivation, and how the Italian kind is still the only kind I’m okay with. I could talk about the deep, wonderful friendships made over three weeks of doing life together. The kind of friendships that last and get even better once you return to American soil. I could tell of the wine had with every single meal, making late-night gelato runs far more often than we probably should, and sometimes even eating dessert twice. And the food. Don’t even get me started on the food.

      I could talk about it for days, but pictures always tell the story better than I could ever try to.

      So these images are the culmination of many laughs and stories, and long nights at the dinner table with new friends. Days spent falling deeper in love with our shared passions and goals for our photography, and having each other to learn from. There were dreamy views, unimaginable, vivid colors and striking textures, but it was the culture that we all grew to adore. It was the slow, the laid back, the spontaneous, unhurried, unplanned, and the most beautiful moments that I know these pictures will never quite do justice. It’s through these images I hope you can experience Italy in the same way I did; sometimes slow and deliberate, with wine and cappuccinos and gelato, eager to explore and soak in the beauty around us. Other days like a whirlwind, so fast and overwhelming, leaving us trying to keep up. Feet tired from running on cobblestone, and souls filled up with the art and history and inspiration at every turn.

      These were moments of time that I’ll be hanging onto for my whole life.

      “I’ve loved the quiet quaintness here; the walkable streets, the natural rhythm, and the friendly faces going about their day at a slow pace. They’ve reminded us to remain open to the moment, to take the time to sit and drink coffee from a porcelain cup with friends, instead of taking it on the go. To breathe in every scent, enjoy every bite of gelato, and embrace a three hour meal. Because “what’s next” doesn’t exist in Italy. Because right now we’re here, and right now is all we’re promised. What a life.” -last journal entry from Cortona, Tuscany