Jay, You know she dedicated that post to you, right?
Priscilla...honest to Pete, I didn't see that the post had been dedicated to me! Almost eerie & maybe a little determinist that I was immediately drawn to Pam's post earlier this month. Wow.
Zoe celebrated the 'off-the-beaten path' places in Italy about as well as any I've ever read, better than most writers, per se. Maybe it has something to do with her being a child of immigrants, and having visited Benevento earlier in her life. But that desire to be there, to attempt to passively assimilate & be enveloped in areas that most tourists to Italy would not appreciate in the least, struck a chord with me as a fellow American of Italian heritage.
This is frankly why I cannot travel with friends to Italy--I have to do what I have to do. My lovely wife and companion of 37 years, who will not do what I say in virtually every other aspect of our existence, totally defers to my quirky travel plans and thoroughly enjoys it. Yes, we see some 'sights' as it were, but sometimes we find ourselves in a little town in the off-season and stop in a modest, nondescript cafe totally devoid of tourists for a caffe and cornetto to plan our next move. The locals will initially either totally ignore us or stare at us like we had third eyes, almost as if we have to prove our deserving to be in their space. Their expressions are like, '...why are you here? Nobody from the outside ever comes here unless they're lost!'
That's OK, and the absolute best is when they begin to warm up to us after I ask a few questions in my pidgin Italian, and in an instant...we're family. They can't do enough for you. Come to my house. You need to know anything for your travels? I almost choke up just thinking about those experiences, and I have to say that Zoe--a solitary traveler most of the time--emboldened me to venture out of my comfort zone in this regard.
Totally out of the realm of Perilla, Viator and the like. Traditional tourists see so much superficially. They'd see a tiny village like Sant' Arsenio as a dump. I see my past and what has made me.
Once again, thanks, Zoe. This forum and the folks in it are tops.