Observations from an Eataliano
Butchering the language
Eating up life
Helping others find their Italy!


I made a photografriend!

About a week ago, I happened upon a beautiful park. It was alongside the river Serchio in Tuscany. A large river that rushes down from the mountains, then as it hits the rolling hills it meanders its way to the sea, passing by the beautiful city of Lucca on its way. It was at this park where I was crossing a long pedestrian bridge. I’d passed a few people, but then one man smiled at me and maintained eye contact. We both had cameras in hand. I’d been shooting landscapes. He was getting images of birds.

We both said ‘Salvi’ – a very informal, noncommittall hello. I walked over and stood with him by the railing – looking up-river. Looking out from the bridge,- we quickly realized that we didn’t have a common language. He spoke only Italian. Me, English, with Italian skills that would embarrass a3-year-oldd.But, we were in Italy…

We had something in common – we were shooting pictures.

We struggled through a little conversation, but mostly took a few shots together. We exchanged information – a Facebook link. That evening – I got the friend request. Funny – the word – it should have been a ‘random acquaintance’ request, but FB has a limited vocabulary. (FB wants a simplification of the complexities of human dynamics – to increase meaningless time spent on their platform. Sorry FB – that’s how I see you.) It was only a few days later that I got a message from Pierpaulo. Would I like to come to lunch? ‘Of course’ – I responded. We set a meeting time and decided that the bridge would be the best place to return to. I was thankful, because navigating directions to a new place might have been difficult.

We met at the bridge, and he immediately suggested we jump in my car. We’re racing (because that’s how Italian drivers drive), across town, with him giving me directions – all in Italian. Sinistra (Left). Destra (Right). Attentione (pay attention). Vai vai vai. (Go go go). We end up at a little locals place to eat.

I begin to place my order. I tell the waiter that I will start with maccheroni e ragu, (maccoroni lucchesi – isn’t like Kraft. It’s flat squares of pasta – home-made, with a wonderful tomato and meat sauce). I thought my pronunciation was pretty good. Surely in those 5 words I could disguise myself as maybe at least a little bit Italian capable. Looking over at my lunch partner – the waiter says (in Italian) “He doesn’t speak any Italian, does he?” It’s amazing – how quickly they know! I gulped down my pride and finished ordering.

We talked over a long lunch. Somehow we made it work. Simple sentences, pointing, gesturing, and drawing all helped. It’s amazing how much your eyes speak in conversation.

On the way back to the bridge, we stopped at a favorite gelato shop. The conversation (remember – there’s just a three year-olds Italian as a basis for our talk) moved to religion and politics! Oh my! Let’s get back to the three safe F’s – Food, Fotography and Family.

One of the things you don’t know about me, is that I collect domain names. Things I think of, that later (hopefully) I’ll make use of. Eatalianos.com was one of them. Another is Photografriends.com. Don’t go, I haven’t done anything with it. Not yet. But… as this event taught me – I should. I made a photografriend!

For my photographer friends – this wasn’t a great photo, but… I do love the lines – The strong railing shadows telling me – just keep going forward. But, diagonal support lines – drawing me to the road less traveled – over to Pierpaulo. Beautiful symbolism caught accidently.

Eatalianos find things of common interest to form friendships. It started with a smile and a camera in hand. Now, it’s my turn to message Pierpaulo, and invite him for pizza!

2 thoughts on “I made a photografriend!”

    1. Grazie, and Yes! I’m going to try and have a last meal with him before I go. He would not allow me to pay, (I really tried!) even pleading with the waitress, and another patron. So now it’s my turn to be the forceful one! So many Pierpaulos (figuratively) to meet, and become friends with!

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