Posted by Bill Steiner – Adventures In Italy
One of the joys of travel is the new people we meet. We not only make new friends, we gain valuable perspectives on our lives, our country, the way we approach life, things we take for granted or don’t think often about. It is not that the people we meet are pointing out differences. It is just that in going about their daily lives, expressing their normal concerns, we see a different outlook that helps us understand our own.
What I like so much about staying longer in one place – what we do with our Slow Travel trips – is that these friendships, and the consequent understanding we gain from them have the necessary time to bloom and bear fruit. When we are moving, traveling from one place to the next, we are focused on that activity. We necessarily have to pay attention, particularly if you don’t know the language, to which binario (train track) you need at che ora (what time). And so, while we are being given much assistance by the natives around us, and are typically impressed with how helpful they are, we aren’t interacting in a deeper, more meaningful way.
Spending a week with us in Orvieto, our traveling friends get to know the natives. While Orvieto has a
tremendous number of resources to hold your interest for a week, it is not a big place. You are more than likely to meet Cristian, owner of one of our favorite restaurants and with whom we try to share our first meal, as you walk by the Blue Bar in the morning. And he’ll take time to enjoy talking with you. Alberto, ceramics artist just across from our B&B, you’ll come to know as you pass by his workshop just about any time you come or go. And of course our hosts at the B&B, Giovanna, Franca, Barbara, Marie Antonella are there taking care of our needs and always available.
While all of these folks are busy, they always make time to talk with you. It is through these casual interactions that insights develop, light bulbs go off. Having the time and familiarity to do this is one of the outgrowths of slow travel.
The thing is, in one short week, these people become friends. We share with them and we learn from them. These are not huge, mind boggling revelations. They are little, subtle, rich pieces of life that make you know you are alive. It is not something you sign up on a trip for, but it is one of the nicer benefits of staying in one place and being with a small group.
A secondary beauty of this is that after a week with us you are ready to continue doing the same, and you know how to do it. I always love it when one of our travelers comes to us toward the end of the week and says, “We are reconsidering our next week here in Italy. Could you help us with an itinerary that will be slower and allow us to connect and experience more?” This is about as rich a reward as I can receive!
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Kristi and Bill Steiner began leading “learning vacations” to Orvieto, Italy in 2003. Through Adventures in Italy they provide a cultural immersion experience. Many trips include the pursuit of some kind of creative work that complements and reinforces exploration of Italy’s culture. Relationships built over the years enable Kristi and Bill to provide experiences that a typical visitor to Orvieto never gets. Trips are held in May and September/October every year. Their Discover Orvieto and Girlfriend Getaway trips are available to groups any time of the year. Learn more about Kristi and Bill’s trips.
Stay abreast of Adventures in Italy developments, and follow Bill’s musings about travel and Italy on his blog Make Haste Slowly.