One of the best ways to get to know Italy is to get to know Italians, so if your waiter or barista or hotelier strikes up a conversation, I highly recommend making time for them. They are most likely not chatting with you in the name of Good Customer Service or because they want something from you (it took me quite a while to believe this but it's usually true). They really do just want to get to know you a little better.
The snap above is of the owner of La Vache Qui Rit restaurant in Torino. A friend and I had a fabulous dinner there and as we were leaving (at about 11 pm), the owner came over to say hello. We stood in the doorway for over an hour talking: about our meal, the recipes, beef in general, how his restaurant got started and how business was going, and (somehow) young people in Torino. Every 15 minutes or so, he would ask whether we wanted a limoncello or digestivo, and we kept declining, saying we really did need to get home.
I don't really remember what else we did that day, or even what I ate at the restaurant, except that it was excellent. But I'm glad I made time during my visit to have that conversation. And of course whenever someone mentions they are going to Torino (Turin), I always recommend visiting La Vache Qui Rit.
Photo by Madeline
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