Now years later, I wonder whether my first flights into Milan and Paris were symbolic of my not so close relationships with the romance lands. I can’t even remember how I was welcomed when I first flew into Rome years later. Quite in contrast to the recent Lufthansa ad proclaiming: Seduced by Paris. Inspired by Rome. And I can see why. What is there not to love about the countries with the history so rich, the languages so sweet and sexy, so languid and full of l’amore and l’amour. And yet, no matter how many trips I would end up taking to the either over the next two decades, they never warmed up to me. Likewise, as natural as I am with learning languages, as hard and long as I have tried to learn the Italian and the French, they both have eluded me.

And so have the people. Beyond the business, people just went home. Of course there were some  dinners and a bit of socializing now and then, but by and far when I think of the huge amount of time I spent in Milan, Paris and Rome, what I remember the most are the evenings when I often found myself sitting in elegant restaurants all by myself, slowly savoring their delicious Euro-Mediterranean cuisine, sipping on their exquisite wines and contemplating life. In Paris, when I finally managed to get Annick Geile, the editor-in-chief of the French edition out to lunch, while we have hardly set down at our outdoor table, she turns her wrist to look at her watch, and as if talking to herself, whispers: my days are divided in segments of twenty minutes. The message was as clear as can be. Though I wondered how many segments I was allotted, I totally ignored her utterance as if I didn’t even hear it.

While I still lived in Munich, I couldn’t wait to return back to my home town every weekend, catching that around eight o’clock flight back. How could you be in one of the three most alluring cities in the world and not want to spend weekends there? Especially if you have to be back first thing Monday morning, and you’re staying in some of the most exclusive hotels and every penny you spend is paid for?

Because, after you have seen all of the historical monuments; passed through Duomo umpteen times, admired the glamour of the Scala, climbed up and down the Spanish Steps, sprawled St. Peter’s Square in Vatican, have been in awe of the Coliseum and have crossed the river Tiber in Rome and paid your tribute to the Notre-Dame, smirked back at Mona Lisa in Louvre, looked down at the breathtaking view of the city of light from the top of the Eiffel Tower and gawked and wished at the shop windows along Champs Elysees and have sat in enough cafes and restaurants all by yourself, you are done with them. For who I am, I can barely begin to relate to the places without meaningful connection to their people.

Not that I didn’t try to connect, but then you learn that like love and friendship, people either click or they don’t. And the sad truth remains, we just didn’t.

Ironically, my most memorable weekend in Italy remains to be the rain drenched and bone cold long Easter weekend I spend with Rainer and Renate (Wörtmann)in their newly acquired Mill House in Tuscany’s Pontremoli. Not Rome, nor Milan.

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