As we traveled through Italy, it brought to mind for Neda & me how relatively “easy” it has been traveling through Bulgaria. Because Neda and her family speak Bulgarian as their native language, there is never really a miscommunication when dealing with others. With us only speaking a few word of Italian each, Italy was a completely different story. In San Miniato, the owner of our Bed & Breakfast, Anna, did not speak a single word of English. This led to many interesting “conversations” with Anna gesticulating, me pointing, and Neda frantically looking up words on her iPhone app.
These experiences brought to mind for both of us how difficult it is to communicate clearly even when speaking the same language. Everyday life is full of these little frustrations where either you feel misunderstood or make someone else feel this way. Instead of getting frustrated with each other, perhaps the solution is to metaphorically act like we are all speaking different languages even while at home. The response in a foreign country is to patiently try to uncover what the other person is saying using any creative means available (miming, pointing, finding common words). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when misunderstanding arises between two friends, partners, or even strangers in your native country, the same patience was applied?
The view from San Miniato
Despite some communication stumbles, we had no major falls on our “food tour” of Italy. San Miniato is a beautiful hilltop town overlooking Tuscan countryside. Our days consisted of waking up to a stunning view of the country in our little bed and breakfast before heading out on the cobblestone streets to peruse the numerous vendors lining the piazzas selling white truffles and products made with the white truffle. Lunch would be up at the top of the town, sitting with the Tower of Frederico while sharing a bottle of wine with truffle infused salami, porchetta, pecorino cheese, and chocolates. Dinner consisted of homemade tagliatelle (a pasta similar to linguini) topped with shredded truffles - delicious!
The Leaning Tower
Next our travels brought us to Pisa, where we stared in wonder at the leaning tower, a building that took over two centuries to build before taking on its famous slant. We stayed with a local friend we met through couchsurfing.org
and got to talk to him and his roommate about Italian politics (like the way the construction of fast train lines, called TAV, come at the cost of environmental destruction in Italy) and their involvement in an organization in Pisa that connects local farmers with urban residents directly to support local farming!
Duomo in Florence
Our next stop was Florence, which brought the architectural wonders of the renaissance masters along with the gustatory delights of fresh gelato and pasta! We celebrated Neda’s birthday our first night in Florence in a little family restaurant where we enjoyed hearing the locals argue about the best regions to get prosciutto and truffles (few people are more passionate about their food than Italians).
Now we are back in Bulgaria where the language sounds a little more familiar to me and a lot more familiar to Neda : ). But we hope to keep in mind the lessons of Italy, using patience when communicating with each other and realizing that words are only one aspect of how we can connect as people.
The pictures from Bologna were posted in the previous post, but to see the pics from San Miniato, Pisa, and Florence, click here
. To see selected photos with captions, view the slideshow below!