La Prima Lettera (The First Letter)


It was in Geneva, however, where I received Mario’s first letter.

It was Saturday afternoon and I just returned to stay my final two nights with the first family.  I had gotten on my host’s computer to check in with work, when I noticed the following email.

Ciao J,

Sono Mario. Se sei ancora in Italia potremmo vederci e magari fare un giro.


(Hello J,

It’s Mario.  If you are still in Italy maybe we could see each other and go out.


Short, simple and to the point.

So what do I do with that?  Barring any additional volcanic incidents, I only had about 36 hours before I was leaving to return to the States .  I couldn’t deny that I would like to see him, but how in the world was it even possible?

I decided that the only thing to do was explain the situation – and see what he would respond.

Ciao Mario!

Al momento sono a Geneva…avevo un volo la settimana scorsa per tornare a casa ma con tutto quello che e’ successo con il vulcano e’ stato tutto cancellato. Sarebbe bello fare un giro ma forse sono un po’ lontana?

Com’e stata la tua settimana?

(Hello Mario!

At the moment I’m in Geneva…I had a flight to return home last week, but with everything that happened with the volcano, it was cancelled.  It would be nice to go out with you, but perhaps I’m a little to far away?

How was your week?)

I wisely ended my response with a question, encouraging a continuation of the conversation.

And waited impatiently for a response.

A response that was our first misunderstanding.

Mario wrote that he too had been stranded in his native Sicily due to the volcano, but he was now back home in Lucca (outside of Pisa) and, depending on my return flight, he would be more than happy to come up to Genova.

Note the one letter difference between the Italian city Genova, where he knew I had gone for the wedding, and the Swiss city of Geneva, where I was currently located.

By this time it was Sunday afternoon and my flight was less than 24 hours away.  Even if he wanted to come all the way up to Switzerland, there was no way that he would get my response, get something planned, get back to me and get up to Geneva before I had to leave.  I sent him this sad response, clearing up the location misunderstanding, and assuring him that if something changed (like if the volcano exploded again), I would let him know.

Unfortunately, this time the volcano didn’t cooperate.  The next day I was in the airport, boarding the plane that would finally take me back to the States.  I was sure that this would be it for Mario.  There was no way that he was actually going to continue to write me after I had left Europe.



About ciaobellamiastory

What do you do with that magical moment when everything makes sense - when all the random choices, experiences and encounters come together, and you find that rare instant of clairty? Then what do you do when it all falls apart? About 12 years ago I decided to take an Italian 101 course. That seemingly random choice has forever altered the path of my life. My strange connection with the language, culture and people of Italy started with love and joy and culminated with unexpected loss, grief and despair. While previously I was content to follow this unpredictable path, today I seek to understand the reasons and lessons behind my journey. My journey towards understanding begins here.
This entry was posted in 2010, Choices, Genova, Italy, Mario, Switzerland and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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