Sunday, April 16, 2017

Opening Doors in Modena!

    Not only is traveling an adventure, a vacation and a respite from everyday routine, it can also be an enjoyable learning experience. On each of our four recent trips to Italy, we had lessons that were humorous, painful and/or valuable. The first lesson (which we knew before we left home): Italy is not the United States. For some, that’s a tough one to grasp, but for us it is a big reason why we travel. While people around the world do have a lot in common, it is often the differences that provide the biggest gift.
    On our most recent visit in November, more than once, we were the unwitting students to the lessons of everyday Italian life. Here we were on a misty, dismal day getting off the train in Modena for the first time after a short trip from Bologna. It was a while before we realized that we were not walking towards the center of the city where we wanted to be. We had looked at the map posted outside of the train station, but still tried to rely on our directional instincts to find what we were looking for. Those instincts had us following a crowd from the station for a while, until we were certainly a little lost. But, alas, we did get to see the Maserati headquarters building as we wandered down the wrong streets.

     We finally decided to find a bar for coffee and directions. We were off the beaten tourist track, but we were lucky to find a small neighborhood bar. Unfortunately, even though it seemed fairly busy inside, the door was not opening when we tried it. The young woman behind the counter inside appeared to laugh, along with some of her customers, as they all signaled to us “to push" the door open.  As we entered, she was saying “spingere” which happens to mean “push” in English. The sticker with those instructions was on the door! Of course, we were trying to pull (tirare) the door open.

     For us, luckily, laughing in Italian is the same as in English. We all had a quick laugh as we ordered our Caffe Americano and brioche. And, we were actually not too far from the city center and easily followed the directions (the pointing helped) to our destination. Even though it was now kind of a drizzling day, we still found a very nice restaurant for an excellent lunch, where we were able to have another laugh at ourselves. Beyond learning the meaning of "spingere" and "tirare," we once again discovered the treasure of spontaneity  and its rewards of laughter and learning. We have found that by visiting places with the anticipation of wonder and discovery, we are rarely disappointed. By minimizing our expectations we often receive a surprising gift. Our advice would be to enjoy the little things as well as the fantastic art, architecture, history and sights. Most of the time, just being there is enough. Even on a rainy day. Italy is waiting for you!
Modena shop.

Debbie having lunch in Modena at Ristorante Uva D' Oro.

Lunch in Modena at Ristorante Uva D' Oro..