Today’s Culture with Travel interview is with Brian Cicioni of I May Roam Travel, Music & Food Tours. Since childhood, Brian always loved travel… In fact, one friend nicknamed him “the walking map.” Today, he’ve visited 38 countries spanning five continents and visited 49 of our 50 states.
Tell us a bit about yourself! Why do you love travel? How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?
I was born in Eastern Pennsylvania, near the Pocono Mountains. As soon as I got my driver’s license, I started going to see my favorite rock bands. My initial love for travel came from a natural curiosity I have about the world as well as my love for music. The first time I visited London, I was excited to visit the city where The Clash came from. In my early teen years, I looked at concert shirts, and thought about how I would see all those places someday; especially cities in Europe and Japan.
If you travel with an open mind, you’ll realize that our similarities outweigh our differences. Furthermore, the world is not as dangerous as the news can lead you to believe. After 17 years of travel, I still do “touristy” things, but I try to also experience places like a local. I try to use public transit rather than rent a car. My trips tend to be short, so I try to think about what is unique to a particular area and focus on that.
What surprising aspect of culture do you love about where you’re from that travelers may not be aware of?
Before I got my driver’s license, I was a borderline-obsessive baseball fan. The height of my fandom was when I played Little League, which was invented in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The Little League World Series is still held there every year.
Which dish do you feel best represents where you’re specifically from? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!
My great grandparents came from Southern Italy, so I’d say pizza. After visiting 48 different countries, it’s still my favorite thing to eat.
Share about a custom/tradition you observe, and talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you?
Although I was born in the United States, I knew my roots going back to my earliest memories. Both of my grandfathers traveled to Italy frequently. I was too young to join them on those trips, but I’ve always done my best to keep in touch with my family there.
Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you. Share a photo, if you can. (i.e. street art, festivals, paintings, architecture, woven artwork, a family heirloom, etc.)
I’m not one of those people who spends hours in art museums, but the older I get, the more I love street art. Two places that come to mind are Penang and Brooklyn. As a music fan, the Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer murals in Lower Manhattan were my personal favorites. Although I never had a chance to meet either one of them, I used to get chills when I walked past them (the murals are not there anymore). Sometimes people you never meet can have a greater impact on you than people you see every day.
Languages not only give us the power to communicate but also can unite us across cultures. Share a favorite saying you have, or teach us something in your native language.
English is my native language, but before I visit another country, I always try to learn some basic expressions. Saying “hello” in the local language tends to be an ideal icebreaker, especially in a country where nobody expects an obvious tourist to know any local phrases.
Have you ever met a stranger during your travels who made an impact on your life in a certain way, or maybe it was you who helped someone else? Share the story!
In my bedroom, I have a map with pins in all the locations I’ve visited. I often look at that map, and have “where are they now” moments. One particular one was a Turkish family, who owned a cave near Goreme, which I slept in back in 2010. The first evening, the family invited me into their living room to watch Turkish cartoons. There were no subtitles, and I couldn’t understand the show, but I felt like it was the most authentic experience of that part of my trip.