The first time Rich told me he had received a job opportunity in Florence, I said “no.” “I can’t go,” I said, “I have a car and a job.” In discussing the situation with friends later, their reactions were always the same, “I’m sorry, you can’t move to Italy because you have a car and a job?! Are you crazy?” But, as a Rhode Islander, moving to Massachusetts seemed far enough never mind jumping across an ocean. After some time, some wine, and a whole lot of list-making, I had processed the situation fully enough to understand what kind of great adventure lay not just in front of me, but in front of us.
Now, after a year and a half of living abroad (with some intermittent chunks of stateside staying), Riccardo and I have established a little sense of community for ourselves on this side of the Atlantic. We have local spots, neighborhood people, and a mostly delightful little routine to our lives (with the occasional hiccup that comes with living in a country where you’re not fluent in the native language). That being said, when people take the time, energy, and money to come see us and be a part of our Italian lives, it is THE COOLEST.
Granted, I’m currently feeling nostalgic after saying good-bye to my two aunts and Grandma after ten days of adventuring between two countries but seriously, having visitors is one of the greatest things that happens to us. Here are lots of reasons why:
- It gives us an excuse to be tourists again. There are museums I would love to revisit, squares I look forward to standing in and buckets of treats I would like to eat every day. Visitors award us the excuse to indulge in all of these things.
- Visitors create an opportunity for new adventures. After following at least four different Italian blogs, Rich and I have a running list of places we want to visit, wines we want to drink, and foods we want to eat. While it’s lovely poking around just the two of us, an extra element of special-ness is added when we get to share these new experiences with people we know and love.
- We know some cool people here. Outside of the little ex-pat community we’ve developed, we’ve been fortunate to encounter some very welcoming Italians. And they love family, specifically grandmas (my Grandma received both a free glass of Prosecco and a gifted bottle of wine her first day here). It is a super neat experience to introduce our American people to our Italian people while eating and drinking tasty things.
- We bring our visitors to the little places that make up our daily lives. It’s pretty difficult to be away from a great chunk of people you love on a regular basis but when fam and friends tell me what they’re doing or who they’re seeing, I have a visual of exactly where they are. And, dorkily enough, there’s a certain level of comfort to that knowledge. After our visitors leave, they have a visual of where we are most of the time too (in bakeries or at grocery stores fighting the crowds) which makes me feel closer to everyone in its own little way.
- Making new associations with old places. Rich and I have now been incredibly lucky to have had seven different sets of visitors with some more on the way. They’ve all stayed in different places and we’ve done different things. Streets that used to be a passageway have turned into a little memory. Restaurants that have always been regular haunts now hold the lingering presence of familiar people. And treats that started out as tasty become even more delicious when you know other people like them just as much as you do.
Is this post possible propaganda for everyone to come visit? Maybe. But the Rhode Isalnder in me will always want to be close to these wonderful family & friends and getting to hang out with them in Italy (and sometimes France) is one of the most delightful luxuries I’d never thought I’d experience.