When we travel, we may not realize how moments will affect us in the future. This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on the overlap between my Australian and Italian cultural experiences. Be sure to check out Part 2, and subscribe to my feed.
Italy is, and will always be, my first love. There was actually a period of time that I thought I wanted nothing more than to move to Sicily and eat cannoli and gelato on a daily basis. After getting to spend a semester of my college years in the beautiful city of Verona, I was lucky enough to learn a couple of key life lessons to factor into my life plan: 1) Italy would make Brooke very fat, and 2) accepting a gift from an Italian boy is a bad idea.
It all started with the discovery of just how incessant Italian boys can be. I always tell my girlfriends that if they are ever feeling down about themselves to just hop on over to Italy; they will soon be hit on maybe an average of 20 times a day by Italian guys of all ages, making it practically impossible to feel bad about one’s self image. Yes, they will proceed to get pursued by both boys not able to grow facial hair and men well into their 80s believe it or not.
And, with that boldness came a bit of awkwardness on my part. I know that it is a cultural experience to partake in the cheek kissing when meeting and greeting, but these incessant boys always tried to sneak something into the mix (a little grope, a kiss on the lips) in the most unsuitable locations (on the train, in the gelato shop), and I was just having NONE of that, thank you. Yes, folks, I thought I had mastered it – how to avoid the awkward cheek-kiss-on-the-train scenario. Sadly, I was to learn yet another lesson.
Davide – I will never forget that name.
Davide and I met on a train that was going to Verona from the tiny Austria-bordering town of Bolzano. I remember seeing him down the platform, waiting with ticket in hand, because he stood out from everyone else that day. He was the typical young Italian with his fashionable shades and greased up dark hair, but strangely enough, here he was the only one.
I found myself a nice little compartment alone in hopes of napping, but it didn’t stay that way for long. This would be where Davide made his grand entrance, being sure to sit right across from me by the window. We sat in silence for some time while the vineyards passed quickly by, but I was in agony thinking that they weren’t passing quickly enough. I was right. Davide had too much time, started to feel too comfortable, and that’s when he decided to make his move.
I want to first explain what I was wearing – my beautiful Murano glass ring.
My Murano Glass Ring Background:
On my first stop in Venice, I discovered Murano glass and fell in love with the rings. I scoured shop after shop in Venice to find the perfect one; it sported my Italy colors – black, silver, maroon (I bought many things in these colors during my time abroad).
“We were inseparable and spent at least a good week together before the event.”
The event I am referring to actually occurred about a month prior my meeting Davide. My habit of slamming my hands down on tables to emphasize my words led me to breaking my glass ring one night at the bar. The ring would never be the same and was quickly laid to rest.
“One cannot easily understand my shock.”
Even though the ring was not of much value money-wise, I did find this one out of hundreds. I was determined to find yet another great ring, and I did, on another day trip out to Venice. It was quite different – orange, red, yellow, gold – reeked of my personality. I was in love again. This ring and I experienced the Ice Man, Sicily, Rome, Florence, and so much more.
This ring I just so happened to be wearing on that fateful day, the one that ended up being our last together.
Why did it have to end?
I’ll tell you why. Davide. Davide came along and tried to sweet talk his way to my heart in a half hour’s time.
He told me, “You look like Jennifer Lopez.” Boy was he off. Or, maybe he was talking about my newly-found and Italian-fed ghetto booty?
He said he wished to remember me forever and to come visit me in America. Ha, yeah, I’ll meet you there, Davide. Silly boy.
Finally, Davide’s stop. I remember pulling up to the train station and seeing the green sign that read “Mezzo Corona”. It was a small town outside the hills of the mountains in northern Italy, probably extremely beautiful, but I shall never return for fear of running into Davide and making a scene.
Davide grabbed his bag and, it happened so quickly, made his way over to me, Eminem wristband in hand. Davide wanted to give me something to remember him by.
“Oh, thank you,” I said in sarcasm. “Great, an Eminem wristband. Beautiful.”
He pulled out my hand and started to slide the band over my wrist when I looked up to find his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
Ack. I got tongued on the cheek. Damn that Davide! My mastery of avoiding awkward cheek kissing on the train had all been undone. That ought to teach me to take a gift from an Italian boy.
Davide left, or so I thought. I looked out the window to see him standing there, watching me intently and blowing kisses. Does it ever end?! He was jumping up and down like an excited puppy that couldn’t contain himself, and he really couldn’t. He jumped back on the train to beg for kisses; I would not give in. I had to basically push him out of my cabin and further out of the train!
I looked out the window again and he was still there, staring.
“Look away. Look away,” I told myself, but of course I was intrigued by this rambunctious character. “Damn, he’s still looking!” He didn’t take his eyes off of me, until he looked down at his hand.
“Wait, what is he looking at in his hand?” I wondered. “Hmm… that looks like… AH!”
The slimy little sneak slipped my beautiful ring off in all the commotion! Just as I realized, the train did a rustle and started to pull away; Davide waved and blew kisses, the excited little puppy he was. Shocked, I went back and forth from laughing to anger. Goodbye ring. Goodbye Davide. Goodbye Mezzo Corona.
Yeah, that’s right. Never accept a gift from an Italian boy.
*Venice photo courtesy of Sarah Yagoda.