How often do any of us put ourselves in the position to meet so many people in so many ways in so short a time? How readily do we open our lives to the touch of strangers?
I came here to Italy wanting to have relationships and experiences, and to gather images. I have done all of that in greater ways than I could have imagined and I now carry the faces of new friends with me. Their eyes, their voices, our conversations and our laughter will follow me as I leave this place behind. Most I will likely not see again. Some I may. But they have all become a part of my life by stepping into my days here.
Please meet some of the people I’ve met since January.
On New Year’s Eve I wrote about the new friends from my first six months here in Milano.
It is harder to leave them than I had imagined.
MARY - Italian. She's 85 and has been working at the cemetery for 15 years. She works with the priest in the small chapel, preparing for the memorial masses. Her "Rotondo" handwriting started me on a quest for classic, Italian penmanship samples.
NINNI & AGNESE - Italians, from Sardegna. Dear-hearted, they own the Carlotta Cafe and serve memorable meals.
ANGELO - True Milanese Italian. My "History Buff on Wheels". He showed me some of the one-lane farmland roads that have become my balm and my delight.
SARA - American. An artist, sculptor and creator studying fashion design in the Summer courses at NABA. Her work is poetic and rich and I anticipate very creative work from her!
MICHELANGELO & TERESA - An Italian and an American, in Venice. They've been married for 15 (or more?) years and are the only sellers of the most beautiful glass beads in Venice.
BRUNELLO - Italian. We had a freezing-cold bike ride together in the middle of January. Brrr!
SIGNORA ADA - Italian, and Venetian restaurateur. She's an imp with a sparkle in her eye.
ALESSANDRO - Italian. He'd love to move to the U.S.
NICOLETTA - Italian. A WOMAN on the bike path! A rare sight, so we talked about it.
ERIK - Italian, with Sardegnan family roots. He served me octopus and potatoes several times.
EWA - Polish. My first independent, spontaneous friend here in Italy.
CLAUDIO - Italian, from Genova. He and his wife, Marina, hosted me for an impromptu city tour and lunch.
LUIGI - Italian. Industrious and resourceful, gathering firewood and compost along the canal to carry home on his bike.
MELTEM - Turkish. One of the "Aperitivi Girls", we know each other through the Italian language classes.
SANDRA & MATIA - Turkish and Italian. Sandra and I met, like many others, in our Italian language class. With our interests in Art and Design, we have much in common. We traveled to Bologna together, with Matia, for a wintertime, city-wide Arts exhibition.
MAUREEN, BRUNELLO, NOEMI - 1 American and 2 Italians. Brunello and Noemi are with NABA, and there were several of us together at the Mayflower Pub, relaxing at day's end.
GERRY & CONNIE - Americans. Goofy cousins visiting Milano for one night before they move on to Venice.
ANAIS & HER FRIENDS - French. Anais and I were in Italian language class together. Her friends came over for the weekend to celebrate her birthday.
ASHLEY - American, from Chicago. She's studying photography at a school nearby.
CARLO & VICENZO - Italians. Dressed like jailbirds and co-guests at an impromptu aperitivo.
ROBERTO - Italian, from Milano. He was our beloved and silly Italian teacher. He made the 3-hour-a-day class a kick-in-the-pants. We all joked a lot.
MARIA - Italian. We met at an ONAV gathering and enjoyed an animated conversation. She's a dear.
CESARE, MAUREEN, ROBY, VALERIO, ANTONIO - 4 Italians and an American girl. I was surprised to find that I had been seated at a table of men at a wine-tasting event.
NINO - Italian. His oil paintings are exquisite and two of them will hang in my home in Seattle.
MARCELLO & RAFFAELLA - Italians, from Bologna. The three of us have an American friend in common. That bond alone opened their door to me. They invited me in and we talked for hours. A lovely couple offering cooking tours of Italy, through Bluone Cooking Tours.
TANIA - Italian. Leader for NABA's Fashion Design Program. A fine, bright woman that I've only caught a hint of.
EARL & MATHEW - Americans. Long-time family friends, here for a whirlwind tour of Italy and lots of pizza and pastries.
MARINA - Italian, from Genova. We met when I bought hat forms from her at the antiques market along the Naviglio Grande. Later, she and her husband hosted me for a day in Genova.
EMILIO - Italian. A friend from my cycling community.
FEDERICA - Italian. A fellow student from the wine-tasting class.
EUGENIO - Italian. The teller from my bank.
GIUSEPPE - Italian. Another ONAV wine-tasting student.
THE APERITIVI GIRLS - French, Australian, Turkish, American. We are linked by our Italian language studies and have gotten together once-a-month or so. We speak in multiple languages at our table.
HASSAN - Iranian. A fellow language student.
KERYN - Australian/New Zealander. Another of the group of women that meets for aperitivi now and then. We traveled to Verona together for a weekend.
LOREDANO - Italian from Veneto. He's a painter with a studio along the Naviglio Grande. If you scramble a few letters of his name, you get "Leonardo".
ZIBBY & HANNAH - Americans, daughters of friends back home in Seattle. We had less than 24 hours together, but they were full of conversation and curiosity.
MAKO & QING SHENG - Chinese. We ate our lunches side-by-side, then strolled the antiques market together, 2 Chinese and 1 American speaking Italian, our common language.
THUSHAN - Sri Lankan. Our "portiere", Thushan keeps our office/apartment building running smoothly.
MARIO - Italian. One of the regional heads of ONAV, the National Organization of Wine Tasters.
ROBY - Italian. "My favorite bartender", which makes it sound like I'm always at the bar… but he hosts many of the student social evenings at his Mayflower Pub, so I've been there a number of times. Or sometimes, when walking by, I'll stop just to say "hello".
MAURO, SANDRA, MAUREEN, SANDRO - 3 Italians and 1 short American. My landlords and a friend of theirs, all from Sanremo on the Italian Riviera. We were in Monaco for the day.
MEGAN - American. We met in Italian language class and have remained friends. She came here with long-range plans, but is heading back to the States as soon as it's cool enough for her kitty to fly.
ROCCO & GIANNI - Italian. ONAV wine tasting students. One night, class was getting out very late, close to 11:30 at night, so several of us left early to head to the subway before it closed. Gianni had a nice red wine in his glass still, so he walked down the street, into the subway and onto the train, sipping his red. (Never in the U.S.!)
OZDEN - Turkish. Another friend from my Italian language classes and one that joins the group for aperitivi.
SALLY - American. A dear friend and art lover from Seattle that came for a visit and "Maureen's Eye View" of Italy.
SALVATORE - Italian. Comically stereotypical while trying to "score" on the 2-hour train ride. He said it was a hot day and that's why he was unbuttoning his shirt down to his navel. Yeah, right.
VALENTINA - Italian. Another friend from the ONAV wine tasting class.
MAUREEN, QUENTIN, BEATA, PAOLO - 2 Americans, 2 Italians. We met at NABA and ended laughing through the evening and planning a cycling tour of Italy for the future.
OMAR - Italian. Omar sat next to me in the ONAV wine-tasting classes and speaks a bit of English. If I didn't understand what was said in class, I could glance over at Omar's notes and see if I could understand what he had written.
PIERO - Italian. We saw each other a couple of times along the street and exchanged a nod and some music.