Piazza di Spagna, Rome

Today an Italian man asked me if I knew the way to the Spanish Steps. Piazza di Spagna, he asked, waving his question, beaten blue backpack bouncing in tandem with his rolling r’s. I was reminded of the way my brother spoke: always in questions so as never to offend.

A tourist myself, in town with my parents and brother, I had just come from the Steps and so was able to mime directions. I do not speak the language. The sound of the Rome traffic was so loud he wouldn’t have heard me anyway. The gentleman thanked me, “Grazie.” The Italians have the most beautiful word in the world for thank you. I think I’ll adopt it when I am back home in the States. My Italian tourist blended in with the rainbow crowd, and I lost sight of him among the laughing, fashionable French couples, grinning German families, and anxious American tourists. So many American tourists.

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