A Little Luck From Italy

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Sometimes an old travel journal is as good as any other book on the shelf.  Its inevitable that memories will get lost along the way and I’m very thankful to have my journals to remind me of all the wonderful experiences that have enriched my life.   While reorganizing my bookshelf this week, I came across a journal I kept during my first trip to Europe.  Waaaay back in 2003, I took a whirlwind tour of London, Paris, Florence, and Rome, which I documented in full detail.

One of my favorite stories comes from Rome, where I met a funny old man on the main road leading into the Vatican.   I had wandered away from the group to explore the trinkets for sale in various kiosks and to take in the surrounding architecture without an annoying tour guide babbling in my ear.  A cart selling “silver” charms caught my eye, so I walked over and marveled at all the beautiful baubles.

The old man running the cart jubilantly greeted me, “Buongiorno!”  with his arms in the air and a smile on his face.  I was instantly delighted and returned the greeting, though horribly pronounced. Lucky for me, he thought it was cute. He then asked me if it was my first time to Rome, to which I answered yes.  I went on to explain how much I loved Rome and how I hoped to one day return.  He smiled and asked if I had tossed a coin into the Trevi Fountain.  As it happened, I engaged in that tradition the night before, which pretty much sealed my fate that I would see Rome at least one more time in my life.

It’s funny how old men flirt with young women.  My grandpa does it and so did this Italian charm salesman.  He took a hold of my hand and asked if I was married with a twinkle in his eye.  I wasn’t wearing my promise ring, so I guess it was a valid question!  When I answered I would be soon, he pulled me closer and said, “Tell him he’s a very lucky man.”  Ha!  So Italian and so adorable.

He then reached into one of the boxes on his cart and flipped my hand so I could hold his gift.  In my palm, he placed a small silver charm and said, “This is for you.  For luck that you return to Rome. I give it to you.  When you come back to Rome, you can give me a kiss or you can give me one now.” Laughter filled the air, both his and mine.  What a little player!  I promised him I’d repay the debt on my next trip.

Along these streets, I received a special gift.

So far, I haven’t been back and sometimes I wonder if he’s still alive and still flirting with all the tourist girls.  I’m sure I’ll find my way back to Rome one day and I’ll likely look for him down that same street.  I keep the charm he gave me on a bracelet, along with a few others I’ve collected over the years.

The old man wasn’t lying when he blessed it with luck.  A year later, my house was burglarized and all my jewelry was stolen, except this charm.  While the burglary was horrific, I am quite thankful there was enough luck for one thing to remain untouched.

– – –

c.b. 2012

39 thoughts on “A Little Luck From Italy

  1. I love your story and how you describe the charm(ing) man. Your travel stories are always so wonderfuly full of the little things that help the reader be right there.

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    • This was so much fun to write, I’m inspired to go through all my journals to see what stories are hiding. There are so many, a little refresher might be good for the soul. 🙂

      Thanks for reading – I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

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    • Thanks – it was a fun piece to write. 🙂

      I still think about the food, 9 years later. I had the most amazing pizza “sandwich” not far from where I met the charm man. 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading!

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  2. What a delightful story and such a fun memory for you! While you dream of returning there one day, I dream of visiting there for the first time, preferably before hubby & I need walkers or scooters!

    PS. Sorry to hear about the break-in. That happened to my parents – twice! It’s certainly a horrible experience. Glad you managed to keep the charm, though. 🙂

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    • There are a few things on my bucket list in Rome, so I’m hoping to get back there one day. 🙂 I hope you get there, too. It’s too beautiful to miss!

      The break-in happened a long time ago. While it was traumatizing, it did teach me how the most valuable things in life aren’t tangible. I still can’t believe the charm survived – it was there with all the other jewelry, but somehow it wasn’t taken. Little miracles like that just astound me.

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  3. Sometimes we meet such fine people in our travels. Great that you also have your journal and the knecklace to remind you.

    We have an olive plate from Sete, from a rogue who tried to sell us everything with bad English and great banter.

    Jim

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    • My journal is always my most valuable souvenir. I never leave home without it and I never forget to fill the pages. 🙂

      I think if I would have stood there any longer, he would have sold me a chain and five charms to go with the one he gave me. 😉

      I’m sure that plate brings back a lot of great memories!

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  4. This was the sweetest story! How wonderful. It’s interesting that when we travel it’s often the little odd happenings that catch our attention and memory and remain vivid years later. It’s great that you have that charm to guide you back to Roma.

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    • I think I’m going to explore my journals a little more and see what else is hiding in those pages. Every so often something will remind me of the people I’ve met or something that happened . . . but I think its time to revisit my travel past with a more discerning eye. It’s possible to learn as much from those journeys now as I did back then.

      Thanks so much for reading!

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  5. I’ll save you from searching: The symbols are Greek letters – alpha and omega on left and right (symbolizing the beginning and the end, or first and last) and the chi rho (I think I’m remembering and spelling correctly!) in the middle which is an early Christian symbol for Jesus Christ.

    This was such a great story, the likes of which seem to only happen while traveling. That must be when we are the most open to meeting the mythological “stranger” who will give us a boon if we allow. I can’t wait to see what comes out of your travel journals next.

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    • Thank you for sharing the meaning of the symbols! Now I don’t have to dig through my journal to find it. 🙂 The symbolism is just beautiful!

      I started sorting through some of them last night and I’m excited to re-explore some of my earlier travels. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and had some really great experiences. I can’t wait to share them. 🙂

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  6. Such a great story! I can just picture the cute little, old Italian man and his flirtatious advances! When I was in high school I was lucky enough to go on a school trip to France. While in Paris, we ran into many young Italian men – tourists like ourselves. Of all the nationalities we came across on our trip, I definitely remember the Italians being the most flirtatious! In a very sweet (non-creepy) way. 🙂

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      • Interesting comparison. If people didn’t like your writing, they wouldn’t visit your blog. Your stories affect what and how you write; your life experiences that help form your perspectives through which you see life, and subsequently share your words. And if they choose not to read what you’ve written, their loss.

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  7. My step-daughter gave me a travel journal for Christmas because I’m headed for Scotland/Ireland in May. I am grateful for the gift, as I wish I had had one when I was in Paris in 2001. I brought back scads of pictures I treasure, but sometimes they don’t tell the whole story, do they?

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    • They are only half the memories! What we see and what we think are two different things and once you put them together, the whole trip comes back to life – even years later. 🙂

      I hope you enjoy your trip – both places are just amazing and beautiful!!

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  8. Old Italian men are especially sly that way (I can say, I’m half), but it is what makes them dear. Most lovely and interesting about the momento not being taken…love it.

    (I know what you mean about the personal posts. I just did a terribly personal post and thought about taking it down. Then I figured, meh, peeps don’t have to read, right?) Keep writing ~

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    • I shall keep writing – I’ve learned writing is all about creating and opening up. The truth always leads to the best stories, whether in non-fiction such as this, or in fiction as the hidden meaning. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

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