February 24, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Dear Guest

By |2018-03-21T18:34:22+01:00October 16th, 2008|First Person|
Read and listen...

ear Guests: Benvenuti in Italia, and to our home! If you have read this same note on an earlier visit, then welcome back, and congratulations for heeding its advice on your previous stay. If this is your first time reading it, please read carefully, for you should already have a vague idea about what may be at stake.

We have taken the trouble of outlining some suggestions to make your stay more pleasant — not only for you, but also for us. It has been our experience, unfortunately, that such a note is in fact necessary, regardless of what you may think to the contrary.

Let us begin by saying that we are very happy that you have come to visit us on the beautiful Italian Riviera — even those of you who were never able to find the time to visit while we were living in North Carolina. Please keep this in the front of your mind as you continue to read, lest you start to think otherwise. Remember, if we did not like and want to see you, we would not have invited you to visit in the first place. Having made that very important point, let us address some fundamental issues that are best made explicit.

First, please understand that we live here. Every day. For us, being here is not vacation, it is merely life. We have been everywhere there is to go and seen everything there is to see. It is nice to revisit some of these places occasionally, as they can be quite beautiful, but for the most part, an eleventh visit to the Leaning Tower is not high on our personal list of things to do. But this fact should not discourage you from visiting all of the nearby sights. On the contrary, we encourage you to explore them. To that end, we will happily share our recommendations (and guidebooks).

It is our hope that you will not try to employ us as cruise directors for your vacation. If we ask “What do you want to do?,” under no circumstances is it permissible for you to reply “Whatever you want to do.” Most likely, what we want to do is follow our normal routine: waking up, going to work, buying some focaccia or wine on the way home, eating the previous night’s leftover lasagna, and then crashing on the couch to watch some TV in our sweatpants before going to bed.

Of course, when we have guests visiting, this is not possible. To avoid any misunderstanding, this does not mean that your presence disappoints us. We are happy to be able to share our world with you and to spend some time together. But we will be infinitely happier if you have ideas of your own about what you would like to do on your vacation. (If you have arrived with your own list of things to do during your stay, bravo! You are already well on your way to receiving an invitation back.)

Please help yourself to anything in the kitchen, provided that you do not plan on hiding your dirtied dishes throughout the house for us to find several weeks after you have departed. And in the mornings, it is strongly advised that you allow us to shower and eat undisturbed. Requests for chocolate-chip pancakes shouted through the bathroom door will not be well-received.

Continuing with the topic of food, we often enjoy eating at our fantastic local pizzeria, Il Borgo. We will gladly take you there if you are not embarrassing. (If your visit ends without us accompanying you on a trip to Il Borgo, you may want to do a little self-reflection.) While there, please remember that this is Italy, not Pizza Hut; it is not permissible to inquire about getting pineapple or barbecued chicken on your pizza.

And finally, we must broach the topic of money. You are our guests, and as such, we are happy to treat you as much as we can while you are staying in our home. If we go out to dinner, please do not hide in the bathroom or stare blankly into space when it is time to pay the bill. Although we will very likely offer to treat you to dinner at some point, do not interpret this act of generosity to mean that we intend to fund all future outings. And if you happen to accompany us on a trip to the grocery store, please do not fill the shopping cart with bottles of Barolo and legs of prosciutto if you do not intend to contribute come check-out time.

To conclude, we would like to reiterate that we are happy to have you here and that we look forward to spending time together. Just remember, the considerate guest begets a grateful host (and an invitation to return).

Buone vacanze!

Your Gracious Hosts

About the Author:

Ingrid Williams is a freelance writer living with her husband on the Ligurian coast. She graduated from NYU with degrees in journalism and politics, and now writes about travel for U.S. publications including The New York Times and Budget Travel. When she's not traveling, you can find her baking Swedish pastries, practicing Anusara yoga, reading fashion magazines and planning her next trip.