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Head of Development and Entertainment

Before I embarked on this trip, I was trying to figure out where to stay. I knew I wanted to stay in Italy but couldn’t seem to commit to any city.  I was leaning towards Venice, partly because of others praising it, but mostly because of Daniel Craig’s 007 version of Casino Royale. Still, I had no solid plan. I knew zero people on that side of the world, and I didn’t have a single connection to get me started. That is, until I met Robert.

Robert came into The Market one morning with his family for breakfast. This was his first time at Botanic. He was in town for a week from California visiting his daughter. I probably saw him 5 of those 7 days. He and his wonderful family were so kind on each visit. On Robert’s last day, I had to tell him about my plans to go to Italy—for some reason, I had the feeling he would know someone or at least be able to give me advice. Usually asking a guest for help would be completely out of my comfort zone. But because we had gotten to know each other all week, it felt okay.

Ha! Sure enough! When I asked, he said, “you know what, Carson, I definitely do. I haven’t spoken to him in a while, but I believe an old friend of mine is living there. I’ll see what I can do to get you in touch with him.” A week later I had a zoom call with his friend, Luca. I cannot explain to you what was going through my head as I was getting ready for that call. I mean, I had nothing to tell this man other than: 1.  I know his friend, and 2. I really want to go to Italy.

Luckily Luca answered. In the beginning of the call he goes, “Carson, I am happy to help, but I have to say this is quite wild. You know, I haven’t seen Robert in thirty years.”

Wow. I felt so awkward. Neither Robert nor Luca owed me anything. And yet, here I was again, getting help from a stranger. After a laugh and nod, we continued to talk for over an hour. By the end of the call, I knew where I had to stay—Milan.  Luca sent me two emails with several suggestions on where I should visit and what to look out for. He gave me a list of great bars and restaurants to try in the area along with beautiful sites I should travel to by train. I cannot tell you how much having a lifeline helped my mom’s peace of mind! Not to mention the generous guidance and travel tips.

I got the chance to meet Luca in person on my last day in Milan. We went for aperitivo (think American happy hour) at Fuormino bar/restaurant.

This update is a big thanks to Robert Wisneski and Lucca Macca for bringing this journey to life.

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