The Kindness of Strangers


The kindness of strangers is a blessing that is never forgotten. A few years ago my family traveled to Europe. We were enjoying taking the train back and forth to different countries and locations and half the time we were so exhausted we couldn’t remember which country we were actually in. We would speak Italian in France and Spanish in Italy. You can imagine we were pretty confused.

We decided to take the train from Rome to a place called Tivoli. There was a place there with amazing gardens and fountains that I felt I had to see. So, we hopped on the train and my husband and I fell fast asleep. My daughter, being the responsible 12 year old she was at the time, woke us and told us it was time to get off. As we walked toward the town it was completely desolate. It was around lunch time so most of the local businesses were closed and there was no one around. I knew Tivoli was nestled in the hills, and this town we found ourselves walking through was completely flat. I was mortified and anxious and didn’t know what we were going to do so we walked, and walked, and walked until we found a McDonalds. To our silly surprise, not one person spoke a word of English. This was going to be fun. We played a game of charades with two teams that were both terrible at it and finally understood the other team was motioning for us to walk further up the road. We came upon a bus stop and stood there happily ready to get on and take us to God knows where. A man walked up to the bus stop and tried to convey something to us that we didn’t understand. After several minutes, my husband realized we needed a ticket to ride the bus and the man pointed to the store where we could purchase one.

After a while, we were happily riding on the bus and every time it would come to a stop the man would shake a finger at us so we knew it wasn’t time to get off. This continued for the next several minutes until finally he was shaking his head yes. So, there we were in a new town filled with people that didn’t speak English and we had no idea which direction to walk. That is when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and held a map. I was able to point to our destination and she pulled me along. Next thing I knew, I was following her through the town while she rapidly spoke as we strolled along. We actually tried to speak back but knowing neither of us knew what the other was saying, we smiled politely and continued to walk. Before I knew it we were standing in front of The Villa d’Este where we said thank you hoping she’d understand and parted ways. It was a wonderful place and one I will never forget along with the the two strangers that were kind enough to help us find our way there. Here are some of my favorite pictures. If you are ever in Rome, it would be well worth the trip to make your way to this beautiful, magical, heavenly place.