Encounters with Italians of the Best Kind ~ Romancing Italy

Nov 23, 2009

Encounters with Italians of the Best Kind

I pointed the car towards the mountains and let it go where it wanted. It's true I had a destination in mind, but my theory is that in Italy, the roads all snake back and forth to every village...it's just that one road will take longer than another.

First stop was Siderno Superiore, the medieval village in the hills. I somehow never get tired of these types of towns with their dull, multi-toned grey stone facades and terra cotta tiled roofs. Southern hospitality kicked in again as an old gentleman offered up his balcony that had an awesome view of the valley below and the medieval city nearby. He was full of information, directions, stories about the the town, but adamant against having his photo taken.

Traveling alone has always been rewarding for me. I am more open and people are always curious. The first question is almost always "where are you from?" And with the general love affair most Italians have with America, mostly Hollywood America, the questions continue.

As a result, I've benefited from free tours, free drinks, discounted meals and lots of attention. It's great for a woman's ego. The one encounter that stands out for me, because it took a slightly different bend, is that of an old woman in Gerace, Borgo Maggiore.

I rounded a corner and stopped to admire a particularly attractive piece of real estate when a small woman, with a green head-kerchief pulled across her mouth, approached me. I watched her coming, not realizing that she would stop with her face a mere 3 or 4 inches from mine. Then she dropped her kerchief as she spoke, revealing at least 4 very grey teeth at intervals in her mouth.

It was her eyes that were incredibly young, full of mischief and life. Yes, she asked me the same question followed by the popular, "What are you doing HERE?" She must have loved my answer because she caressed my face. I didn't mind even though I usually have a very large personal bubble. No Hollywood blither for her. She came straight to the point. Do I have religion?

Again she wasn't disappointed with my answer. We believe in the same God, the Son and Spirit but we take different roads on the topic of Mary. Her parting comment, served with a big smile, was that we will see each other on the other side. Somehow I have a feeling she's going to be there.


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