It’s rare during the winter months to spot someone on the street holding up a Seattle tourist map, but I ran into one this morning. My walk to work doesn’t go by any major tourist attractions, so when I see people with maps I usually end up having to tell them where downtown is because they want to see the market, or in one case pioneer square, which is roughly 25 blocks away.
This morning the guy I offered to help was named Salvatore and he was from Italy. He works for a company that builds ships, or ship supplies, or something along those lines. He was in town to visit one of his best customers Holland America, which is actually right near where I work. So, we walked there together and chatted a bit. He said he was just coming from Miami which he really disliked because you can’t walk anywhere. He was happy to be back in a city where he could walk from his hotel to his destination. I mentioned my last name and he said “central Italy?” to which, of course, I had to say I had no idea because whenever I’m told where I’m from I seem to forget it.
He mentioned he was from Florence and I told him I’d been there many years ago and really enjoyed it. He said he thought it was the most beautiful city in Italy. It’s not as large as Rome, and it’s not as overtly touristy as Venice (I’m paraphrasing). It has a rich history without being in-your-face about it. I walked him to the office he was looking for and he realized he was 45 minutes early – he had accounted for getting lost, and didn’t. He offered me a cup of coffee but I had to get to work, so I pointed him at the Shanty Cafe. The Shanty is awesome, but it looks like a dive. In hindsight I wonder if he thought I was playing a prank on him. He gave me his business card and I checked out his company’s website. Frontpage 3.0. Ouch.