Christina with Tia (left) and Margaret (right) at Castello Montevibiano Vecchio winery in Umbria
Six Degrees of…Todi
I am always amazed at how quickly connections – new friendships, really – are created here in the Umbrian hill town of Todi. We travel from all corners of North America (and beyond) – Virginia, Vancouver, Indiana, Arizona, Bermuda – to this magical place and become fast friends over long lunches, breath-taking vistas and new linguistic and cultural experiences, which await us around every corner. I love to see the email and facebook connections explode as students in Two Weeks in Todi connect not only with each other but also with their new Italian friends – teachers, shopkeepers, hairstylists, host families. We journey far and wide to experience small town life and are rewarded by a sense that the world really isn’t as big and vast as it sometimes seems.
Once again this year, connections have revealed themselves that I would have never predicted – connections along the lines of “Six Degrees of Separation.” Yes, it seems that Kevin Bacon has joined me and my group here in Umbria. Just last night in Perugia, as I was chatting with one of the dynamic ladies in my group – Tia – after divine pizza at Mediterranea, we discovered that not only did we attend the same high school in a Chicago suburb, but that we were inspired by the same English teacher. A few corn fields and a single stoplight separate our family homes and we were apparently both visiting at the same time last month. Since we both live in Charlottesville, I have actually known Tia for a few years. She has studied Spanish and Italian (with me!) at Speak! Language Center – and yet only with the longer, slower conversations that Italy makes possible did our personal histories converge. So I guess I wasn’t too surprised when Margaret, our student from Bermuda, discovered that her Italian teacher here in Todi, Lilli, is best friends with the daughter of one of her best friends from the beautiful British island.
I suppose this small world phenomenon revealed itself to me on my first, exploratory visit to Todi back in 2007. While observing an Italian lesson at Speak!’s partner school here – La Lingua, La Vita – I realized that the two adult students in the conversation class looked very familiar. Turns out, they were residents of Charlottesville, Virginia, too and colleagues of my husband at the University of Virginia. Perhaps there is some magnetic attraction at work, drawing those of us with similar dreams and realities, intersecting personal histories and shared goals to this tiny pushpin of a place.
Whether it’s in the stars or just a series of coincidences, these “degrees of separation” are certainly bringing us together here in Todi.