My ex-wife spent an exchange year here back in the dark ages of physical letter writing, speaks the language fluently, and still maintains friendships here. We did travel the mainland for a couple of great weeks way back in the 20th century. We went to Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona and Rovigo. It was easy for me, given she was fluent and had friends, and I just went along for the ride with a stupid expression of no-comprehension. I distinctly remember the coffee, and good food. I'm certain her Italian friends thought she married a simpleton. So do I.
The other person was my primary running companion for quite a while. She divorced and moved first away, and then back to my area. We maintained contact throughout her moves and I like to think I helped her figure some things out. She had wanted to visit Italy, and had done some language lessons as well. When I got divorced I reached out to her to see if there was any interest in other than (what had devolved to at that point) casual and intermittent electronic communication. I even went as far as to extend an invitation to join me in Italy (or wherever I was going to be). I buy a ticket, she joins me with no expectations, no strings; just a friend to hang out with. To date, she's expressed no interest. Am I hopeful she’ll change her mind? As long as I breathe, there’s hope I suppose. Though I imagine Vegas odds would be astronomical to the point of absurdity.
So here I am: Covid-hunkered down in Taormina, exactly as I planned, but quieter than I hoped. I'll spend tomorrow probably doing what I've been generally doing every day: walk the town (masked, of course), read, take in the views, drink some coffee, overhear conversations I don't comprehend and generally cogitate on WTF I'm doing. It's still pretty easy traveling, since I can get by when I need to with pidgin Italglish, Google Translate, and pantomime, though not on the level as if I had a translator next to me, or the language chops myself to understand.
Even so, I drift through, unspeaking.
A toast with a tasty local tipple: almond wine. Happy Christmas.