Case in point: recently I've been planning my upcoming travels to Puglia, an unknown-to-me region of Italy, and wishing that I knew someone who lived there. (By now, I have good friends who live in many other regions, including Lazio, Toscana, Emilia Romagna, Le Marche, Trentino-Alto Adige, Campania, Lombardia, Liguria, Piemonte, and the Veneto.) And then magic happened, as it often does in my Italian journey. As if in answer to my wish for a new friend, I received an email from a young man who lives near Bari, one of the larger cities in Puglia, asking if I would be interested in sharing a language exchange with him.
Over the course of the last six years I have met dozens of Italians, of diverse ages and background, through a language exchange website, and many of them have become good friends. If you've been reading this blog, you've had the chance to learn about some of them, as I've shared many stories of our encounters in Italy. The website we use is mylanguageexhange.com
As for my new friend, Domenico, the chance to meet someone in Puglia is quite unusual, as there are very few people from Puglia registered on the language exchange website that we use, and untold thousands of English speakers for him to choose from. Out of that large pool of choices, he contacted me! Incredibile! When I told him that I was wishing I knew someone in Puglia, he responded, "è incredibile come a volte il destino gioca le sue carte!" (it's amazing how fate sometimes plays its cards!)
As is often the case, from our first meeting, we made a good connection and had an easy time communicating. We are both at the intermediate level in each other's language, which allows us to converse in more depth than beginners would be able to. Once he heard I would be in Puglia soon, he offered to show me around the area where he lives, if I have time to visit his city. You can bet that I will try my best to honor his invitation! Thanks to the warmth, generosity and kindness of my Italian friends, I've been privy to many parts of Italy that I would not have managed to get to on my own, not to mention the rich store of information they share about their language and culture.
To give you an idea of my Skype meetings with my Italian friends:
On Mondays, I meet with Massimo in Bologna. I visited Massimo and his family several times during my stay in Florence in 2010. They are coming to the U.S for the first time this summer, to visit the East Coast and Yellowstone Park. Massimo often sends me photos and videos of their excursions to the Dolomites, where they enjoy hiking, skiing, sledding and snowshoeing.
|Massimo with his wife Sofia and daughter Erika, Bologna, 2010|
|with Lucia at the train station in Trento, 2010|
|w Marco in Parma, 2009|
|Domenico, from Grottammare, via Skype|
|Enzo, via Skye|
|w Lidia in Rome, 2009|
|w Renata in Parma, 2009|