We had our last dinner with our wonderful and dear friends, Ludo, Barbara, and Ilaria and their families on Sunday night. These are the first Italians we really ever met, and it’s because of them that we became interested in opening our store, Bella Italia. They were all very involved in Bella Italia and helped us find the products we sold and introduced us to an Italy we didn’t know before.
We met for pizza and before we had even ordered our food, Ludo and his family were called away to a family emergency. We carried on without them, and got updates from him on the status of things (everything turned out fine, by the way), but we missed them terribly. They gave us a very special picture collage of the three of them that was taken the year we first met, and then three more pictures of them today with their families. It was the perfect gift for us and will find a place of honor in our home in Atlanta. It reminded us of how young they were when we first met (they still are – it’s us who have gotten old!) and how much has happened in all our lives since then.
We told them that if it hadn’t been for them, we might have remained mere tourists in Italy. We had been to Italy several times before we met them and loved it, but I can’t tell you what a different time we started having here when they came into our lives. We started to see Italian life more intimately and saw more than just the inside of hotel rooms and tourist attractions. That’s when we really fell in love with the country and the people. And here we were with them, almost 13 years after first meeting them, sharing our wonderful adventure. Even though it was a goodbye dinner, it felt more like an until we see you again dinner. We’ll be back, and maybe they will visit the U.S. Still it was hard to leave them, but at least we have the photographs to remind us of our dear Italian friends. Oh, and we had nutella pizza for dessert. No, I’ve never heard of it either and I was very skeptical — but it’s really very good!
Monday is our last full day in Anghiari. We leave Tuesday morning. Monday was an incredibly spring-like day. Some clouds in the morning, but the afternoon was sunny and clear and it was about 65 degrees. Perfect for our last day. We spent the morning going around to some of our favorite stores and restaurants telling them goodbye. They were so genuinely sad to see us go – it really made us feel good and even more sad all at the same time. One of the butchers gave us a bottle of wine, and the pizza place that we love also gave us a bottle of wine. These are such wonderful gestures and are a special way of telling us that our presence here was valued. With the language barrier, this is good to know because we had such limited conversations with most people. This is one of the many reasons we hate to leave and why we love it here so much. The people are wonderful and welcoming. It’s a small town and there’s the usual small town stuff, but it’s a great community, full of very interesting and wonderful people. We will miss it very much.