Jessica and I went to a beautiful nature park in Brugnera today, and we slowly walked down a shaded area that had large, tall trees lining both sides of the path. As always, Jessica had her camera and camera bag, and I decided to bring my art journal. Every person I passed by I greeted with “Ciao!” Some seemed surprised but they responded with a friendly “Ciao” or “Buongiorno,” but two elder ladies had the most interesting, magnificent response. As Jess and I passed the ladies, I looked up and cheerfully said, “Ciao!” as I smiled and waved. The two women didn’t respond immediately, they both kept slowly walking but they had a look of surprise. A few seconds later they enthusiastically greeted me with a “Ciao!!” Their response was laced with so much surprise, intrigue, and joy. It’s as if they truly appreciated my greeting. I kept walking and smiling but I stopped after I heard one of them talking to Jessica, in Italian of course. I turned around and Jessica stood there clueless, asking the lady if she spoke English. The woman kept asking a question and using an Italian word that sounded a lot like the Spanish word for “news reporter,” which is periodista. I told Jessica I thought she was asking us if we are writers, reporters. I used my hands and acted like I was writing and taking pictures. The woman smiled, nodded her head and said, “Si.” She walked closer to Jessica, put her hands out and then gently cupped Jessica’s face and said, “Molto bella, molto bella” (very pretty, very pretty). She had this bright smile as if she was enchanted. She looked Jessica up and down, put her hands up and said, “Molto bella” again. Humbled, Jessica bowed and said, “Thank you, grazie, grazie.” The woman turned and looked at me, laughed and walked closer, cupped my face gently with her soft, wrinkled hands, and said, “e anche tu, molto bella.” We all laughed and I thanked her in Italian. We laughed one more time and said “Ciao” as we turned to go our separate ways.
When the two women walked away I looked at Jessica and I tried to express how magical that moment was to me. That was our first physical, personal interaction with a local. Someone who was not afraid to come close to us foreigners and speak words of love. I was so touched.
My mind began to spiral and wonder why that woman was so captivated by us. Did we remind her of someone or a time in her past? When she looked into our eyes, gazed at our faces, she lit up and seemed to be blown away. What could she see that others couldn’t? I wish I knew her name.