One not so early morning the bell at the wooden gate rang. I jumped out of bed onto the cold floor and made my way outside, shouting ‘Arrivo!’. This much Italian I can do. At the gate was a friendly lady with a little gift. ‘Buon giorno!” she said. “I’m Sylvia and I wanted to introduce myself. We’re  living in the neighborhood and are good friends of the former owner of your house. Maybe we can have drinks together sometime?’ She sent me a beaming smile and left with her mini-van, leaving me perplexed. This would never, ever happen to you in New York City or Amsterdam. Trust me. Never. Forget it.

nocinoShe brought us a home-made liquor that she and her husband produced on their organic farm, I learned fast from their business card. Unfortunately their website was under construction, so the card was all I had for now. Within a week we set-up a date by e-mail. Since their business card didn’t give their address, I sent a mail for directions. The reply was two 16 figure coordinates. I was positive I was never going to make anything out of that so I kindly requested the address again, but Sylvia waved my concerns away. The coordinates were really easy.

Okay, got it. When in Rome do as the Romans do. An hour before we were to leave, we entered the 32 numbers in Google Maps like any normal human being would do, but Google told us that they we’re very sorry, but couldn’t help us. I soon found out more about coordinates than I ever wanted to know, and also that I wasn’t going to find their house using them. I was going to have to call them but I shied away from a telephone conversation in Italian having to admit that I couldn’t find their home. We had to come up with a plan B fast.

Thirty minutes before the actual date time, we finally came up with a brilliant plan: google their business! It’s amazing how some people under-perform under stress. It worked. Our navigation didn’t have the exact address, but a house in the same street. Good enough and off we went.

Soon we were approaching what should be their home, but I have to say it didn’t feel right. We were in the middle of F nowhere on a dirt road. An old man came out of the only existing house to tell us that he was visiting and couldn’t help us. Mama mia! Now what? My resourceful and resilient man went online and found the address on Google maps. It turned out we we’re on the wrong side of the village. We were getting close to the ‘fashionably late’ time really fast, so I was getting a little upset. I might have made some remarks about Italians doing everything the most difficult way. I’m not sure.


Ten minutes later we were on the side of a kind of high-way staring at a house that couldn’t possibly be it. It housed a drug store. Now we had to make that phone call and since I was driving, my fiancé had to do it. Soon enough, the husband, Valerio answered. When we told him where we were at, he exclaimed: “Oh no! We’re in Cecanibbi. You just have to take a left turn from your house. Ride to the house with the tower and take a left. We’re less than a kilometer from your house! How is this possible?”

I had some suggestions to offer how this was possible, but I kept them to myself as long as the phone conversation went on. We had to go back to their village and – foolishly enough – asked our navigation system to get us there. Needless to say it sent us on a quest through Umbria that took another half hour. The landscape must have been beautiful if it hadn’t been for the starless and moonless night.

Finally we landed in Cecanibbi where we set out to find their house that should be at number 17. Which is a precise to me, as saying you’re living in Manhattan, number 35. Luckily, Nadia the owner of the only pizza joint around, was chatting outside her business. We asked her for help. Of course she knew where we needed to be and added that it was a terrible road through the woods we had to take. Driving up there, I remembered that road. We had taken a walk there earlier that week and decided that nothing could possibly be at the end of it. I just prayed I didn’t have to back up that road to get home.

But here the gods finally came to our rescue and produced their home at the end of the bumpy trail. When we arrived at their doorsteps only 75 minutes late, I could see the lights of our house shine bright into the night. Only 700 meters away.