When In Rome, Gain Perspective

September 24, 2015
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Like so many others who travel, I revel in the opportunity to escape not just because it provides temporary respite from the daily grind, or because I want to collect more stamps in my passport. Those things are great, but at the end of day, travel to me is all about perspective. Put simply, when I see more of the world, I see the world differently.

My first-ever Peepshow post found common ground between a then-recent trip to Shanghai and my initial days at Fast Horse. Almost exactly one year later, I’m fresh off a flight from Europe and once again reflecting on what I saw, and how I’ll see things going forward.

I began in chic Paris, then flew to picturesque Venice, traveled by train through the Italian countryside to Rome, and then flew back to Paris before returning home. If the sheer size of Shanghai and its stark cultural contrasts to the U.S. were key takeaways from China, then in Europe it was all about history, art and human ingenuity.

In Paris, there was more art than one could possibly consume at the Louvre, and a breathtaking view of a beautiful city from the Sacré Coeur. And there was, of course, the Eiffel Tower, which served as an entrance arch to the World’s Fair and represents perhaps the grandest feat of engineering and human ingenuity for mere spectacle.

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The Eiffel Tower

Venice, especially when you’re able to find respite from hordes of tourists on the island’s busiest streets, is as beautiful as everyone says. But more than the iconic, gondola-filled canals, it was the city’s history as a former world power, as explored through the island’s many museums and churches, that offered a new perspective on the evolution of such a historic city.

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St. Mark’s Church

After a day trip to nearby Lido to attend the Venice Film Festival, I was back on the main island, where the city’s current ties to its rich history amazed me. We watched an annual gondola race on the Grand Canal that has been practiced for thousands of years and draws masses of spectators from across the island and beyond — a tradition certainly unlike any I’ve witnessed before.

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The “Regata Storica” gondola races

In Rome, standing in awe before some of Western civilization’s most remarkable early achievements, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that such feats in architecture date back centuries — or millennia.

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The Pantheon

And after touring the Vatican Museum and trying to fathom the fact that I’d just stood inside the Sistine Chapel, I climbed the stairs of St. Peter’s, the world’s most extravagant church, and was granted yet another new perspective on the city.

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View from the dome of St. Peter’s

While I needn’t harken back to Sartre and other existentialists — although while sipping espresso at a Parisian cafe, who could blame you — my takeaway from being immersed in so much history and exposed to new and awe-inspiring sights was less about our individual insignificance, and more about the amazing things people have created over the centuries, and how that should serve as an inspiration.

While I believe such inspiration is particularly paramount for marketers, it’s of course beneficial to those from all walks of life. So if you’re considering traveling somewhere — anywhere, really — book the ticket. You won’t regret it.