We are in Italy. Our first adventure (after over 24 hours of airplanes and airports) was our rental car. We packed all our seventeen (more or less) bags into it and set off, map in hand. We had gotten almost out of the airport parking lot when the car began to smell bad. And then worse. We turned around and headed back, concerned. A passerby flagged us down, pointing to the engine, from which smoke was beginning to billow. Tony parked the car and rushed back in to the car rental place. I was still sitting in the car with the children when a man came up to the window and said I should get out, and asked me where my husband was, and said the car was on fire. I unbuckled the children and got out. Another person motioned us away from the car. Apparently, it was brand new and had been shipped without oil. They replaced the car and we transferred our belongings and set off again for our hotel.
At the critical juncture, we took a wrong turn, and ended up driving around Turin for hours and hours. We finally made it to our hotel late that evening. The next morning, we headed out to Lagnasco, the little town where Domenico was born. Following the directions given us at the hotel, we stayed on the road toward Savona through several toll booths. We hadn’t changed much money, and we began to be concerned that we would run out of cash just from continuing to drive. We finally pulled over at a gas station and were told that we had overshot the city and would need to turn around. We thought about just driving back to Turin, where we knew we could change money. But we decided to forge ahead.
We stopped in a little town and asked someone where the banco was. She looked confused, and began to ask clarifying questions. I got out the sentence from the guidebook about how I needed to change money. “Ah, la banca,” she exclaimed, and directed us just down the street. Of course, by this time it was 1:30. Lunch in Italy lasts till 2:30 or 3:00, and everything is closed until afterward. We waited till the bank opened, changed our money, and then were back on our way.
We arrived in Lagnasco late in the afternoon. Driving up, it was surrounded by thousands of fruit trees, all arranged in perfect rows and just coming into bloom. We drove into the tiny town square and looked around in wonder. It was like a village out of a storybook. The streets and sidewalks were spotless. The houses had quaint wooden shutters, intricate metal porches, and red-tiled roofs. In the center of town was a lovely old church with a bell-tower that chimed the hour. We walked around, imagining what it would be like to live there, and then drove home.
Next day was Saturday, which we spent driving up and down Soviet Union Street in Turin and trying to get internet. Sunday we went to Church, where the branch welcomed us warmly and made us all feel very much at home. We love Italy. It is a beautiful, friendly, and amazing place.