Wishes all over Italy

All this time wishing I could go back to Florence is making me think about all the famous locations in Italy that are supposed to bring its visitors good luck and make their wishes comes true. Here are three that I visited–all of which I’m pretty sure I had the same desire at: “I wish I could keep living in Florence!”

1. The Trevi Fountain

Probably the most famous of these locations is the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Tradition says that those who throw a coin into the fountain are guaranteed a return to Rome someday. While I did have a deep moment of wishing for a return to Italy, I did not toss in a Euro. Maybe I should have.

2. Giulietta’s statue

A less-known practice of good luck takes place at la casa di Giulietta in Verona–Juliette’s house. Below her balcony is her statue, which tourists swarm around for the chance to commit the act of good luck: rubbing her nipple….which is now quite faded. Yes, absurd; no, I did not partake. But I did get a kick out of watching others leap at their chance as if all their happiness depended on it. (Maybe I should’ve given this a go too).

3. Il Porcellino

Perhaps the least-known superstitious act of making dreams come true is located right in my other home town, Firenze.

For months I heard about “the pig” from my housemates. “I bought this by the pig!” “There’s this great guitarist playing by the pig!” “We should take pictures at the pig!” “Come meet us at the pig!” I would be told, only left to wonder Where and what the hell is this pig?!

Well, this little piggie went to the market…He’s a bronze fountain nicknamed “Il Porcellino” (“Piglet”) and located at one of the leather markets near the Uffizi. This is something I didn’t learn until late April, on what happened to be the most romantic night of my life. Something about the translation for “wish upon a star” came up while my date and I were on the Ponte Vecchio admiring the starry sky’s reflections on the Arno River. This topic then led to this damn pig statue that I constantly heard about yet knew nothing about. “You never visited il porcellino?!” he asked in amazement. “No, e non so dovè.” I finally admitted it: I just did not know what or where this pig was. My Florentine date was shocked. “Elisabetta, you must come make a wish!” He took my hand, and all of a sudden we’re running through the cobblestone streets of Florence so that I can rub the boar’s nose, make my wish, and put a coin in the piggie’s mouth to ensure a return to Florence someday.

My wish can still come true 🙂

My prospective Italian husband made the big move

Let me begin this post clarifying two major points:

  1. The four-part Spring Break series about Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris is indeed on its way (better late than never, right?)–but I must delay it un po’ more because of the absolutely uncanny occurrence that fate bestowed upon me last night.
  2. Yes, I acknowledge that today is April 1st, but no, this is not an April Fools joke–contrary to what you may suspect. This actually happened.

Allora, it was about 1:30am and Heather and I were on the hunt for a kebab after a lovely evening with some friends at our beloved local pub on our street. The late-night food places in our area generally are closed at this hour, as we’ve unfortunately discovered. But I was fixated on this kebab. We ventured towards the Duomo–where nightlife is always still hoppin’–to seek any of those Mediterranean fast-food places that would hopefully still be open. We were on a mission.

One phone call instantly aborted this mission.

-“Ciao Chelsea, whatsup?” I answered to a call from my housemate.
-“Liz, where are you?” she asked in a dead-serious tone.
-“By the Duomo.”
-“Guess who I just ran into.”
-“Luca the First!” I jocularly exclaimed, and laughed at our inside joke.

(To fully appreciate this story, you’ll have to read the background story about Luca I in one of my first blog posts, “Day 4: Prospective husband? Si.” Back in January, on the first night that my housemates and I went out in Florence, we met an Italian who showered me with compliments and passionate declarations of love in the way you’d stereotypically expect an Italian guy to do. As American girls who had just arrived in Florence, it was hilarious to see the stereotype already come to life. That night was left to rest without any exchange of contact information, leaving us only with a good story and never-ending inside jokes about my prospective Italian husband. (Since then, I’ve also captured the eye of two more Lucas–Luca II who liked my red dress, and Luca III who said “I love you” at “Disegno video giorchi” (“I design video games”). But Luca I is the one who my friends and I continually reference in jokes).

-“You’re kidding.” I was overcome with disbelief. It was only a few hours ago when I had casually used the “that is danger” remark that we often jokingly use in reference to our initial conversation with Luca that first night. We have spent months joking about the unlikely idea of just happening to run into Luca I in the large city of Florence again. Not only did it happen, but he actually recognized my friends and remembered me.
-“Where are you?” Chelsea asked. She and our other housemates she was with apparently all took Luca and his friend to that local pub on our street, where they were expecting to find me. I told her where I was, and she told me they’d be there waiting. The pub was technically going to close soon, although, they always stay open later on weekend nights–especially for regulars.
-“I’ll be right there.”

“Abort mission!” I yelled to Heather, as we instantly turned around from our kebab hunt and headed back to the pub as I filled her in on this freak incident. I was so excited, but also a little nervous, and overall just completely flabbergasted. We were utterly in awe. I’m still amazed.

Walking into the pub was unreal. As soon as I entered, I saw him in the back sitting with the group of friends, and suddenly reached an even higher level of overwhelming disbelief. Usually I greet the bartenders and other regulars I know, but my mind couldn’t acknowledge anything else in the room. When I joined the group, I looked at Chelsea and the other girls, and we just burst into laughter.

Unlike when we first met, this time I could speak and understand a little Italian. So, we were able to communicate a little better–but still with a struggle. I tried to tell him that I was surprised he remembered me, and that I am glad we met again, and that we are still just friends though. When you only know a little vocabulary and a limited ability to form sentences in another language, the “conversations” can get really funny. In order to prevent the conversation from going dead, you either end up repeating the same content a lot, or you end up making random comments on anything you notice and are able to express a a comment on. For example, our conversation consistently came back to how surprised we both were, but with random interjections like “In America, il tuo orrechino significa che, uh, ti piace ragazzi–non ragazze” (In America, your earring signifies that you, uh, like guys–not girls.”) Again, when you’re desperate to form sentences about something relative to what’s present, some funny and random remarks will definitely be made.

A little later, my prospective Italian husband made the big Italian gesture: he bought me a flower from one of those damn flower guys. Mamma mia…