I was having one of those chats to Alistair as we sipped our espresso, munched on a croissant in a little bar at Sorrento. It went something like,
“Alistair, what have the highlights been for you?”
“It’s all been great” he replied “but..”
He thought about and we answered in unison,
“it has been the people we’ve met hasn’t it”.
We agreed. People, people and nice places.
Most of the time we choose to go to nice places. What makes or breaks them are the people you meet along the way. Those little moments when you need a smiling face because you’re hopelessly lost or someone goes out of their way to help you or explain something. Often these encounters are short lived, fleeting but memorable. Sometimes, they evolve as you discover as common connection or interest.
The locals at Daniele’s Bar
Our barista’s english was as good as our italian. Looking around his little bar, we could identify pictures of kids etc. Gestures and smiles got enough of the message across to have an elementary conversation. He was immensely proud of his bar and Sorrento and pleased to make us feel welcome. As did our friend Julio at the Record sporting store, Valentina at Jolley’s, the polish girl who kept giving us tastings of lemoncello in the lemon orchard and Johnny and his fiat 500. The gang was duly watered and entertained by Fernando at the sports bar; essential watering
hole from where the Giro could be watched on the big screen. And finally in Sorrento, Franco Coppola, the owner of El Buffalito ristoronte and the photo gallery owner. It was the people in Sorrento that made Sorrento. In Milano, the concierge took a liking to us because we paused to say a proper hello and value his advice and knowledge. He took great care of us and made Milano more human.
Julio and some of his mates outside his store, Record Sports in Sorrento
The local Sorrento fruit and veg’
I’m writing this sitting at the airport. Looking around I see something that disheartens me and explains the sometimes aloof nature of some people we have met.
Many travellers are rude. I’m not suggesting deliberately so, but they float around in ‘tourist bubbles’. They seem terrified they’re going to have their stuff stolen, get ripped off or something bad will happen. They keep most people at a distance and don’t engage. I was waiting in line for my coffee and the person in front was very dismissive of the girl serving. When my turn came, I smiled and we chatted as she made my coffee. As she finished, she grabbed a small package and said “try this”. It was a Lindt ‘chocolate spoon’. I asked what it was for and she gestured that you stirred you espresso with it.
“Is it good?” I asked.
“I think so” she said as she smiled, winked and turned to the next ‘tourist bubble’.
Mmmmmm, Lindt chocky spoon. Elvis will love this!