Gabriella’s uncle, aunt and cousin, from Wales, came for a four-day visit last week and it was wonderful to see them. Together we explored new and familiar parts of Arezzo, including doing some of the “touristy” things we hadn’t yet had time to do ourselves – such as visiting museums and trying out restaurants. There is a lot to see here, including frescoes dating back to the 15th century (and earlier) that are simply stunning.
An added advantage of the visit was that Gabriella’s family doesn’t speak any Italian so we had to be the interpreters. As a result we challenged ourselves to do things we otherwise would have been too timid to do ourselves – such as talking to people! Our best experience was at a store where the proprietor was kind enough to correct our Italian and with whom we established a friendly rapport. Being corrected is a good thing – it demonstrates a degree of caring and kindness. Each and every time this happens we are immensely grateful.
Because our apartment is too small to accommodate five people comfortably, Gabriella's uncle and aunt had arranged to stay in a B&B nearby and their daughter stayed with us. After they arrived, the five of us walked from the train station to the B&B, a relatively long walk, made to feel much longer by the weight of their luggage. When we arrived, no one answered the doorbell. Just as we were beginning to wonder what to do an adolescent boy stuck his head out of an upstairs window. Gabriella explained that we were there for the B&B. Quickly the boy disappeared and we could hear some scrambling from inside. Eventually a man (it was the father, Omero) emerged genially, but with some trepidation, from the front door.
A protracted conversation ensued as we stood in front of Omero’s home for at least 20 minutes while he extended countless gestures of welcome. Gabriella got some intensive language immersion, as she translated back and forth between the English and Italian speakers. Omero, in a stunning display of Italian stereotype, also made frequent references to “la bella ragazza” (referring to Gabriella's embarrassed cousin, who is a lovely almost 18 year old). After charming us to the point of near exhaustion, he explained that the B&B was actually about a mile away. We despaired at the thought of walking another mile until Omero explained that he would drive us there. This involved taking 2 cars - they don’t drive big cars here. Not at all sure where we were going, but extremely happy for the ride, we gratefully accepted the invitation.
Once at the B&B we spent another 20 minutes being oriented and making conversation. As kind as Omero was, we were relieved when he finally stopped talking (especially Gabriella!) and left us to ourselves. His welcome was so extensive and charming, he even told Gabriella to call him if there was anything WE needed during the time we are living in Arezzo!