You’ve said it, I’ve said it, we’ve all said it … “I’m sick of waiting.” “I don’t like waiting.” “I’m tired of waiting.”
Actually, tourists here in Italy say things like that a lot. Because when you visit Italy (particularly rural areas) there seem to be a lot of things to wait for … waiting for sheep to cross the road (how big could that flock be?), waiting in line at the post office (what could possibly be taking so long?), waiting for the little scooter to get out of your way (why doesn’t he just pull over?).
Yes, there are definitely plenty of things to wait for here, and what a wonderful gift that is!
The rhythm of life in rural Italy might be different than what you’re used to, but that creates a fabulous opportunity (Opportunity? Yep, opportunity.) to surrender to that particular moment. It’s an opportunity to let your frustrations and stresses fade away, and to intently notice the Italian-ness around you. That’s where you’ll find the magic of Italy – tucked into brief, fleeting moments and in the smallest and simplest of things. All it takes is a slight shift in perspective, and you’ll notice it.
Instead of seeing two men who dare to block the entire road (while you’re rushing to the next hill town!), notice that their friendship is so important that a mid-road embrace is imperative. Instead of complaining that the shops aren’t open all day, consider that those who take long lunches decrease their stress levels. And instead of getting angry that the food isn’t being served fast enough, know that it’s better for your mind (and for your digestion) to savor each course, filling the time in between with pleasant conversation.
Just yesterday I was reminded of the gift of waiting when a farmer on his tractor blocked the road ahead of me as I was driving home from the store. When I stopped the car, I happened to glance out the driver’s window at the medieval village of Fabro (my adopted home town) perched on its high hill, skirted by vineyards and olive groves and framed by a clear, blue sky. My heart caught in my throat (Have you had that happen?), and I spoke out loud my gratitude for the tractor that kept me waiting.
Waiting – a wonderful opportunity and gift – that you’ll find in less-traveled areas of Italy. I hope you’ll allow space for it the next time you visit, because that’s where you’ll find magic!
Pamela Haack is an Italy travel consultant and author of Off the Beaten Strada: Top 10 Favorite Etruscan Sites. She specializes in creating group trips and personalized experiences for travelers who enjoy active vacations in Italy – off the beaten strada.
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