One of the first trips I ever took outside of the country was with a group. Now, group traveling isn't for everyone, like me. When I travel, I want a lot of independence and freedom to do what I want. Group traveling seems to stress conformity and leads to little bunches of Americans crowding the streets in various foreign countries. But, this trip was going to be bearable because one of my best friends was going with me and because she worked for the agency we had gotten the tickets for half price. So, Mama wasn't complaining. Besides, we were going to Italy, the land of delicious pizza and delicious men.
How I made it through the airport and to the hotel is fuzzy. By the time I got there, I was so fatigued that all I could do was collapse on my bed and wait for daylight. It came far too quickly and Marie* and I went downstairs to order breakfast. By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs, we were in shock. Screw the buffet of food, there was a buffet of men! At a large table in the middle of the room, there was a large group of Italian men in designer suits. Most of them had tanned skin, dark eyes, shiny black hair, and well-defined muscles. To quote my grandmother, I felt like I was in hog heaven! Almost on cue, the men at the table swiveled their heads toward us and most smiled to reveal gleaming teeth.
There was one man in particular that caught my attention. He was seated at the back of the table and his eyes did things to me that my ex boyfriend couldn't do with his hands. He wasn't smiling, but had an interested look in his eyes. Marie and I paid for our breakfasts and before we had gotten our plates, my mysterious man had gotten up and was headed for our table. Marie was smirking and I looked up at him, expectantly. He looked at both of us and said, "Buongiorno. I am Angelo and I was wondering if I could sit down and speak." I was thinking, "Honey, you can do anything you want to." But, I said, "Of course." He sat down and started asking us generic questions about where we were from and what we were doing in Italy. He told us that he was in town for a business meeting, but he was originally from Sicily. Soon, the rest of his group started getting up and heading for the door and he looked at us and invited us to a club in town. We agreed to meet up with him that night. Now, I've never been much of a "club" person, but when in Rome…
We got to the club around 10 PM and there was a pretty light crowd there. Angelo was outside and lead us to a table in the back room where we were treated to champagne and a fruit plate. Marie was soon whisked away to slow dance while Angelo and I continued talking. "So, you like Italy?" he said. "Yes, I love it! We've only been here for a day but I have already had great food and great champagne." When I told him that we were only going to be in Italy for two weeks he sighed and said," That's too bad. Italy should be savored, like wine." He took my hand and started gently massaging the top of it and said, "In two weeks, there is only surface but surface is better than nothing, right?" I smiled and said, "Your surface is lovely." He laughed and led me to the dance floor. As I wrapped my arms around his neck I looked over at Marie and smirked. Her face had a blissful expression and she was gently swaying with one of Angelo's associates. Lesson learned: bring a camera everywhere.
Angelo and I danced for about two hours until we finally went back to the table and continued talking. I learned that his father was a poor farmer in Sicily who couldn't read or write. His father told Angelo that he had to get an education, no matter what it took. So, Angelo started working after school at 12 years old and started saving money for college. He excelled in school and was able to get a few private scholarships which helped fund his education. I told him about my life in the United States and he laughed at my descriptions and said that he had been to the US but had no desire to go back. I told him that I knew that I was definitely coming back to Italy and he gave me his card, smiled, and said, "I hope so." By the time there was a break in the conversation, I looked at the clock and realized it was three in the morning. Since Marie and I had to get up at seven, I decided to leave and I told Angelo that I had a great time and I hoped to see him again. he kissed me on my cheek and whispered, " "You will."
Marie decided to leave too so we walked out of the club (well I walked and she stumbled) and got into a taxi to go back to the hotel. On the way home, we exchanged stories about our night and agreed that coming to Italy was a very good idea.