Well…It’s been an interesting week, to say the least. The day after I arrived in Rome, I ended up missing the train to Salerno (after buying a ticket, of course), which left me wandering the streets of downtown Rome, looking for a place to stay. This did not go well. The first hotel was too expensive, and the only Hostel in the area was booked solid. So what’s a guy to do? Have a wine and cheese party for one in an empty corridor of course! Luckily, doing this did manage to boost my spirits about my lack of organization in getting to Salerno.
Unfortunately for me, I still had 6 or so hours to kill. Ah! Another stroke of luck, when I happened to come across an outdoor party in a city square that looked to be going through the night until early morning! My fortunes changed, as I had the opportunity to show off my musical prowess to 2 young pretty Italians named Valentina & Isabella. Trouble was, they no speaka de english of course. Needless to say, that made any attempt at flirting pretty difficult to be sure.
As the good times continued to roll, there were 2 friendly gents who kept wanting to go to a bar in spite of me explaining that there weren’t any open at 3AM!! Long story short, one of them attempted to become a sort of temporary assistant for all the Euros I had on me, and let’s just say neither of us were terribly friendly with each other as we parted. By the grace of god, this time, who I thought was a very helpful employee, turned out to be someone who just spends time at the station and gouges tourists for helping them with their bags. I tipped him generously (though not the 50 Euros he demanded), and was finally on the train exhausted and distraught at my situation.
It took me the whole train ride to calm myself down and assure myself that the rest of the trip would be better. Upon finally arriving in Salerno, I had no Euros left and no means to get any from my accounts. Lucky for me, a fellow traveller lent me 2 Euros for the payphone. Unlucky for me, THE PAYPHONES DIDN’T WORK!! I had to actually stop a gentleman in the street to use his cellphone to call the owner of the farm to come pick me up (his name was Gianpaolo).
As Gianpaolo drove out of Salerno, towards the farm, a wave of relief started to set in as I actually realized that things actually were going to get a lot better. As we arrived, I was struck by the natural beauty of Campania, drinking it in to replenish my spirits.
Since being on the farm, I have truly immersed myself in the Italian culture. These people are only too happy to help you learn the language, as long as they see you are making an effort. Every single day, you see the emphasis they put on family that we forget all too often in our fast-paced culture. There is a tinge of sadness however, in that I am reminded more and more of my Nonna and Papa, who grew up not too far from here, and who have both passed away not too long ago. I think to myself, if only they could’ve returned to Italy after the depression, they would’ve remembered all the beauty and simplicity that came along with their Italian culture.
It seems for now, that I’ll just have to hold them in my heart and know that hopefully, from somewhere they’re looking down and smiling on all the fortune that I have been blessed with.
This one’s for you Peter & Giulia