130. We Made It

Brave? Nuts? You tell me.

Cappuccino at the airport, my arrival ritual

But we’re here, in Bell’Italia. And bella it is. We are in the Umbrian hilltop town of Orvieto. The vistas are spectacular. The shops are filled with ceramics and olive oil and books (yes, books. We have passed three bookstores in this little town — I defy you to do that in New York City). People are out doing their shopping, walking their dogs, chatting with neighbors.

If I only had room in my luggage

At lunch, we sat next to a man who spoke no English but was eager to chat. Where are you from, he asked. When he heard Philadelphia, he said “Ah, Rocky Balboa,” and mimed boxing. As a fan of the Rocky franchise, I prefer that to the usual, “Ah, cream cheese.”

A little lunch

So at first glance, not much has changed. The restaurants are bustling with outdoor diners, the shops are open and thriving, the streets are charming. The food, of course, is incredible. But here’s what’s different:

Truffles being shaved onto Ben’s pasta

There are virtually no Americans, further cementing the thought that we were crazy to take this risk. As a matter of fact, in a country that is normally chock-a-block with travelers from around the world, I have almost entirely heard Italian being spoken on the streets.

Two crazy Americans

And in a country where the double-kiss is the standard greeting, I have seen none of that. Zero. No self-conscious, jokey elbow bumps that we have adopted in the states; they have simply cut out the unnecessary touching altogether.

Lighting a candle for special intentions

And the masks. Everybody here has a mask dangling from their ears, at the ready for when they step inside. No hysteria, no defiance, no macho lunacy. Maybe it’s being the epicenter of the first Western outbreak, and seeing thousands of nonni die alone in hospitals. Maybe it’s taking “Love they neighbor” of their religion seriously, and not using their Christianity as an excuse for self-indulgence. Maybe it’s a basic respect for science. Whatever it is, it renews one’s faith in humanity. We could learn a thing or two.

At the outdoor market

8 thoughts on “130. We Made It

  1. To be in Italy without American tourists! Really well observed, Gigi. Hard to believe there’s a place where people view face masks as a sensible safety measure and not an assault on their constitutional rights to be self-indulgent, uncaring idiots.
    Enjoy your stay.


  2. Your smile says it all. Thanks for the photos and commentary. The mask comments were so insightful. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Amare!


  3. I can’t wait to hear about your further adventures. So glad you took the plunge in these uncertain times. I’m missing Italy so much – of course I’m so jealous. Enjoy this special trip! 🇮🇹


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