A Special Gift

Today is my birthday and I received an email from an old boyfriend of mine, Nick, who traveled with me to Italy back in 1975. He and I spent the year teaching English to Italians at The British School on Via Monte Napoleone in Milan. Via Monte Napoleone is one of the top fashion streets in Europe and the school was located right next to Gucci and across the street from Pierre Cardin. My brother John owned an affiliate of The British School in a small town called Vigevano, about an hour outside of Milan. He secured jobs for us at this prestigious school in Milan. which was, of course, very kind and generous of him.

Nick wrote today that he and his wife had gone through all of their photos over the past several months and he had found a few of our time in Italy. He wanted to share three with me today for my birthday. I was deeply touched since I’d never seen these photos.

One is of me in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I’m sure Nick and I had traveled there over one of our school holidays.

Another is of me standing with two Sicilian young men, Ignacio and Benedetto Columbo, who were friends of my brother John’s and who were very kind to Nick and me during our stay in Vigevano.

The third is of me wearing a loden coat that one of my adult students, Rina, gave to me when she saw I didn’t own a proper coat to wear during the cold Northern Italian winter. She was the manager of a fashionable men’s clothing store right there on Via Monte Napoleone and she had me come in so she could have the coat fitted and tailored for me.

Rina also found a place for Nick and me to live once we started working at the school in Milan. She had an old friend who was looking for apartment-mates. Rina made the introductions and we found ourselves living within walking distance of the school.

That time in Italy was a growth year for me. I traveled all over the country during holidays, learned to understand Italian and speak the language well enough to be understood, and also had the opportunity to teach both adults and children in a top European language school. I obtained a work visa for the following year, but after returning to the U.S. over the summer, I decided to stay and apply to graduate school.

Nick and I have remained good friends over all these years, and I deeply appreciate him sending me these photos. When I saw them, I will admit I was moved to tears. I instantly had a flood of memories about the people I’d met, the experiences I’d had, and the times I’d shared with both Nick and my brother John,

An unexpected but lovely birthday gift from an old friend. A gift I will treasure.

In Pisa, circa 1975
Ignacio, Len, Benedetto
Len in loden coat and headscarf

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Don Dodson says:

    Happy, happy as Leee would say.



    1. Thank you, Don! Big hugs.

  2. Sarah Fine says:

    Happy Birthday and good health in the coming year. I have been following your blog without comment but today I wanted to send good wishes and to say your posts are all of interest to me. But the photos plus your Italian adventure reminded me of my first trip to Europe that accidently included Milan (1971). Thanks for bringing me back to those young travel days…

    1. Happy my post brought back happy memories! Those ’70s travel days were wonderful!

  3. Kelly Wise says:

    Happy Birthday Len!! Those photos and the memories are pure gold!!

  4. lindawis says:

    What wonderful gift! Happy belated birthday, and best wishes for more memories to make!

  5. Thank you, Linda. Much appreciated on all counts!

  6. Tina says:

    Lovely story!

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