My fourth week in Italy has passed, and Marco and I have had our second date. Even though this was only our second meeting, I agreed to have him pick me up from my home. He arrived at 8:30am Sunday morning so we could have an early breakfast. He took me to a popular pasticceria in town that was surprisingly crowded for such an early hour. We ate pastries and drank café while discussing Austrian food, Catholic holidays, and the Italian mafia.
[Side note: Although it seems very stereotypical, I’d be lying if I said I was never tempted to ask about the authenticity of American gangster movies and their portrayal of Italian mobsters. Knowing that Hollywood tends to glorify gang life, I am always hesitant when it comes to asking an Italian about their existence; for fear of sounding ignorant, or worse, hopeful. However, he seemed to know a lot about them, though there aren’t many in the region where we both live. He we very willing to tell me about a few that he knew of; and I particularly enjoyed discussing the differences between American gangs and the Italian mafia.]
After breakfast, he took me on another drive through the hills. This time, to a medieval town that was 20 minutes away. We didn’t talk much while en route, but there were no uncomfortable silences. I can’t say for sure what he was thinking, but I was completely lost in the scenery. It was a cloudy, drizzly day. Though the gray nor the rain could cloud the magnificence of the view around us. As we drove closer to our destination, the mountains seemed to overtake the sky. We passed by little sub-towns with old buildings that had peeling walls and rusty signs. Going down the winding roads while tiny yellow homes popped in and out of sight, with the brown and gray mountains looming over us…this was the kind of romance a single traveler like me longs for. More than roses, chocolates, or jewelry…opportunities to see things like this are the only true way to my heart. And I have a feeling he knows this.
We arrived at our destination; an old castle on top of a hill overlooking three tiny villages. We took a cable car to the top and walked around the castle for about an hour. It was an interesting building, in that it included a hotel, a spa, a restaurant, and a bar. Also, while we were touring there was a Russian ballroom dancing competition going on, so we were able to see men and women donning their suits and gowns. The castle was impressive, though I preferred the view from atop more. As well as the company.
This date was a lot more affectionate than the first. And I was very comfortable with it. We held hands while walking around the castle. Placing his hand on my back while guiding me around the statues. And kissing me while we were standing on the balcony, pointing out specks of colors on the mountains that were reminiscent of an autumn passed. It was sweet.
On the drive back we were a lot more talkative. He told me more about his studies. How he is working on his thesis, and hopes to graduate this Spring. How he would like to get his Ph.D. in Germany. He talked a bit about his academic challenges, though it is hard to believe that he has failed/will fail at anything. He seems very determined and confident, intellectually; and I admire that. And the more I get to know him, the more things I find I like about him.
I’m also surprised by how no cultural differences are apparent when we’re together. There was one moment when I attributed his good manners and chivalrous nature to him being Italian, though I think those have more to do with his upbringing. I’m starting to get that those who try and maintain a multicultural social network tend to have a more versatile personality. The same goes for people who like to travel. Regardless of our differences in race or nationality, we both seem to be on the same page when it comes to certain behaviors and mannerisms in social situations. That’s probably why we click so well and our dates have flowed so easily.
We’ll see what happens on our third date. He’s invited me to accompany him to Rome!