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My friend invited me to join her to visit family in Bassano del Grappa, a town about an hour outside of Venice. I fell in love with this historic city, and became fast friends with my hosts.


My new group of friends were all native Spanish speakers, with some speaking Italian and a little bit of French. I took a year of Spanish, many years of French and worked hard to learn Italian before my trip. I should have learned Spanish. Most days in Bassano, I sat around the table, listening to multiple simultaneous conversations in Spanish. I picked up on a few words, and often got the basic gist of the conversation. Mostly I sat until they all rose from the table for our next adventure.

This was not my usual travel style. I had planned a trip to Paris for my family, and had researched activities, made reservations, made an itinerary, and dammit we were all going to have a good trip. Traveling with locals in Italy opened up a new way of experiencing travel. I was one of 20, and the only non-family member. I was a visitor for their family reunion, and hadn’t had much time to plan for the trip. They showed me magnificent walled cities, took me hiking in the Dolomites, and shared incredible meals with me.

more to come...

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