Sunday, October 24, 2010

Romans friends

I love to meet people when I travel. It may be someone who helps me with directions, a kind waiter or waitress, or a museum guard who is seems thrilled to have a tourist finally say something to her. We appreciated the man I asked for directions walking us way out of his way to a restaurant he recommended. I enjoyed meeting the guy at a fruit store who learning we are from near Chicago greeted me in cheerful English thereafter. (While it is rare in small towns in Italy, a lot of Romans answered me in English. I can get peeved when people switch languages on me but in Rome it seemed to come not from thinking that my Italian wasn't good enough but a genuine desire to meet me half way on the linguistic playing field.)
  On our recent trip we met up with one of my "imaginary friends" from Ravelry, the knitting and crocheting social networking site. Alice is a talented and smart thirty year old. Besides speaking flawless English, she knows much more than I do about American popular culture. One of her avocations is subtitling American TV shows, mostly ones I've never heard of. (I admit it, I don't know what is going on around me sometimes.) We spent an afternoon together and she took us to a yarn store.
We have a slight disparity of height and age but a shared love of yarn...and gelato—Alice took us to an amazing gelato place. Then we spent a long time sitting around in a beautiful square just talking about life, the universe, and everything.
  One of our favorite people in Rome worked at the bakery we frequented. There was a mind boggling array of bread, cookies, fresh pasta and other comestibles. Our guide to it was this ebullient guy who gave us samples, recommended kinds of bread, sliced it by hand, and cheered us on our way.
Apparently selling to foreigners is his favorite thing in the world. Typical exchange:
Him: You want some sweets, too?
Me: You are a genius.
Him: Yes, I am the genius of love too!

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