Is this glass of water free that I’m drinking? Crap, did I accidentally order another prosciutto sandwich or did I actually order pizza this time? … and why are they taking so long? Okay, so what if they take too long and I miss the ferry back to Venice? Wow, travel is stressful. Why is travel so stressful?
It was the end of our third day in Italy; we were sitting at a boutique Italian restaurant in a small, pastel-colored town called Burano, delicately framed by antique clay flowerpots and rustic window shutters. The town was split in half by a small canal, resembling a rainbow colored Venizia…nevertheless, rather than an appreciation of the beauty that surrounded us, our minds were glazed with a thick coat of “worry” and “what ifs”.
Our pizzas came about half an hour later (finally) at which time, local shop owners began turning off their lights and locking the doors, heading home for the night. Before the sun had even set it seemed as if the small pastel-colored city was deserted. I watched a few tourists scurry around wide-eyed, frantically searching for a souvenir shop that hadn’t closed yet. They were practically begging to open their wallets and throw away another €50 on overpriced t-shirts and mugs.
But just as golden hour began to drip over the quiet streets, I watched a few kids gallop around the corner as the parents sat down at a bench with a glass of Bianco di Custoza. Three old women walked out of vintage metal archway, arm in arm, long skirts swaying in unison. Men appeared through a closeline-covered alley, laughing from their bellies and sharing a cigar with their neighbors. Even all the dogs, pets and strays alike, joined in the streets, weaving in and out of legs, strollers, and tables. One by one, the whole city came back to life in conversation, play, and togetherness.
We ended up leaving the table paying for the water that was not free, eating a prosciutto sandwich that we “ordered” with the assistance of our friend called “the language gap”, and missed our ferry completely. Yet…we watched the buildings change colors under the sunset and eavesdropped on conversations spoken in another language. We watched families join families, shop owners join friends, and children join schoolmates. No schedule, no rush, no overthinking, no stress, no superficiality.
And there it was — The beauty of human connectedness in the most beautiful and simple form.