What’s your favorite thing about international travel?
The food? The local drinks? The strange new sights? Learning a new language? Navigating the travel challenge? Overcoming your fear of being out of your comfort zone?
Well, all that — and one more vital factor, which for me is my very favorite thing about international travel — the people you meet and the interaction you have with them.
If “travel broadens,” as the old maxim goes, then it’s the local folks along the way who have the most impact on whether the trip is a success or not.
As we look back on just one week here in Italy, I see faces of new friends and old. And folks — shopkeepers, craftspeople, musicians — who we befriended two years ago when we first came to Montepulciano to celebrate our 20th anniversary.
Spending an entire month in just one town in another land completely changes the dynamics of the human experience. Once Italians find out you are not a “day-tripper,” but are actually a “temporary local,” they immediately brighten and begin treating you like you matter.
For my part, I am compelled to put together a photographic collection of these fine folks, in sort of a keepsake photo album.
Here are some of our favorites in Montepulciano.
I have to start with the 80+ year old cobbler, Virio Neri, who we met in 2015, but whose shop was dark and shuttered on the first day we trekked up the main “Corso” in town, setting loose fears that he had died in our absence.
Then the joy on the following day when we found him – very much alive after all, and still working at his simple little shoemaker’s shop.