Whenever asked, “Where is the one place you would travel if you could go anywhere in the world,” I would always answer, “
Upon arriving in
But take on
After a family argument in Cortona that left tears and separate restaurants in its wake, I was in a horrible mood. Walking back from dinner to meet up with family I was struck with the most unexpectedly magical moment.
Part of my family decided to walk to the top of Cortona to “see the sights”. After five minutes of hiking and getting no closer to the top, I told them I’d wait on some steps until they returned.
It was about ten at night at this point and I was so exhausted from the day of sightseeing and the recent arguing that I lay down at the base of the steps. I looked up into the clear sky dotted with stars and sighed with happiness. Despite the horrible day, I was in
As I took in my surroundings, my eyes drifted to the nearest building. To my surprise, a woman was staring back at me in wonder. We took each other in for the briefest of seconds before both looking away. At that moment, I felt like we were the only two beings in the whole town, curiously surveying each other.
The not-so-subtle glances we exchanged took in more than just appearances. We appraised each other as foreigner versus native but for the first time on my trip, I felt like I was being accepted—welcomed—into a culture so foreign to my own. After those few calculating seconds, she withdrew from the window into her house but I still felt her presence by the window. It was strange but exhilarating to see someone who was as curious about me as I was about her. I was so thrilled from that moment of acceptance that I began to hum one of the piano songs I had been practicing before I left. For the whole ten minutes my family was gone, I kept humming and still felt her presence beside the window, listening. Although my voice was barely higher than a whisper, it rang clear in the utter silence that enveloped us. All too soon, the voices of my family interrupted my humming and the moment was broken.
As we left, I felt so thankful for the brief glimpse into another life. The woman’s gesture, however small, has left a resounding impact on how I view Italians. She could have glared at me for intruding on her quiet street so late at night but she didn’t. She was just as amazed by me as I was by her.
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