I know “never talk to strangers’ is what every child was taught. But when you travel EVERYONE is a stranger but sometimes they can surprise you.
I look back on the travel friends I have all over Italy who were strangers and now are part of my Italian adventures.
The vegetarian store owner, the puppet man, Michele who taught me to taste wine (in Italian), the woman at the Firenze market who talks with me every year, even if I do not buy, the café owner who explained the winter chocolate drink I fell in love with, the bakery woman who sold me bread every day for 3 months (but did not remember me the next year), an artist with a great life philosophy, the owner of a gelatto store, the staff at SASL, the shoe repairman in Spoleto who’s daughter messages me on FB, the 4 women of Florence MBX: the list goes on.
Perhaps this is some of the reasons I return to Italy EVERY year instead of going to eastern Europe, China, Australia, S America…..all on the bucket list. It feels like I am truly returning home.
Travel friends were once STRANGERS too. But do travel strangers change OUR lives or do we have any impact on THEIR lives???? This is a question I have had for years.
But meet two or three of this years Strangers who I met in December:
Sig Vincelli: On the last night of my trip as I was returning to the convent hotel to pack I walked down a street that leads from the Trevi fountain to the Monti area of Rome. I had not purchased ANY Christmas gifts since the trip was full of interviews and travel. So the small store front with two displays of scarves on the sidewalk arrested my progress. Yes I shop constantly to find out how the locals Live…. and yes to find a treasure to take home.
The owner of the small store Vincelli Silk greeted me and started a pleasant conversation,
NO HARD sell. By the time I left I had learned something of the long family history of the store and silk business in Italy, the problems the Romans were having with imports and 3 gifts for the folks back home. This is a place I shall return to each year.www.vincellisilk.com via dei Lucchesi, 36 Roma
Claudia: There was a Christmas market in Sorrento the day I was in town. It was small but well attended by the families in town. During the day the market was slow and some of the venders did not open until evening. However Claudia was open every day and all day! She took the time to listen to my very bad Italian and have a conversation with me the previous evening. This always impresses me.
During the lunch break when the town shops close up and everyone has pranza, Claudia was still at her booth. She actually remembered me, but an annoying stranger is often easy to remember. As I purchased some Christmas ornaments that would fit into my luggage we talked about imports and hand made items. I told her about the interview I had just done with two glass artists in Sant’ Agnello and small world that it is, she lives in the same town and knows the Sepe Art Class shop!
Meetings like this make me travel…….now I only wish I had offered to take Claudia to lunch, but I have found people often think a solo traveler is weird and may be a stalker……
What stranger will you meet today? Will they become a travel friend???