How I Learned to Trust (Some) Men


When they announced that we would go to “the view” next, Erin and I raised our eyebrows. If they planned to make a move, this would be the spot. Antonio drove uphill and parked at an overlook. Nighttime Rome glittered across the river. We admired the panorama, took photos and returned to the car.

Next was Aventine Hill. We were alone as we traipsed up a quiet hill in the dark, our guides remaining silent about the destination. It didn’t escape us that this was exactly the kind of situation we’d been warned to avoid, yet we walked on. When at last we arrived at an old imposing green door, Fabrizio and Antonio held back, smiled, and nodded. Erin tried the latch. It was locked.

“Look in the keyhole,” Antonio suggested.

She stooped over and gasped, then moved aside to give me a turn.

Inside the hole, illuminated and framed like a nesting doll, was the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was the size of a thimble, and the most magical thing I’d seen in all of Europe.

There were more stops, more viewpoints, more sexy-sexy songs. Fabrizio promised to send me Luca Carboni tapes in return for country music. Finally, they drove us back to our pensione, where we exchanged addresses and kisses on both cheeks. For all the sexy lyrics, the evening never turned romantic.

Women, especially those who travel, are constantly warned to be wary of men, to remain vigilant — solid advice I had learned the hard way. But on that luminous evening, something shifted for me, something big and important about the power of intuition. It was a shift that helped turn me into a world traveler and prepare me, 16 years later, to recognize a different handsome man as a good human, a benevolent soul.


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