Sometimes it’s ok to talk to strangers

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Via degli Azzolino, Mesagne, Italy

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This particular via (street) in the heart of Mesagne’s centro storico has been photographed by numerous individuals numerous times. I follow several on Instagram from the town and I love how many different ways this scene is captured. I myself have taken this picture several times over the years and I never tire of the quaint, simple perfection that perfectly sums up Italian street life to me.

This year I not only captured the scene again, but noticed a gentleman sitting above on a balcony and so loving to talk to Italians, older Italians in particular, I called out to him to ask about the street decor. The red flags swaying in the cool June night air are not always present so it had to be something special. And indeed it was, June celebrates the Sacred Heart of Jesus and he told me about a small procession also took place. I then told him how much I loved this little via and always took pictures of it and that I especially loved the bike. He thanked me since it’s his bike.

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He spoke to me of his kids and that one of them told him how he was watching a program one day and during a promotional video for the town, he saw that the street and more notably, his bike had been featured in the video. He was so proud. He told me that he loves taking care of his home as it’s a reflection of him and his wife (she was inside watching a program) and the love they have for centro storico. I declined his kind offer for a visit inside the home and a juice drink with him and his wife.

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But that is just a simple example of one of my favorite things about Italy, about Puglia, about Mesagne. I feel comfortable enough to begin a conversation with a perfect stranger and they are comfortable enough with me to go right along with the flow. It’s as if we’ve known each other a lot longer than 2 minutes. He was not cold, you could sense the pride in his voice and I was immediately at ease with the conversation.

Had I just taken the picture like I’ve done in the past and not gazed up to question about the decor of the street, I wouldn’t have met the owner of the very famous bike.

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