Enroute to the attorney’s office, Joseph told me he was getting into another business – organic herbs.  As I perused the beautiful brochures he shared with me, he told me he is most excited about bringing Persian blue salt to the market.  I love gourmet salts and have a wooden box with 10 different salts and herbs on my kitchen counter at home that I use on a daily basis.  However, I was not familiar with Persian blue salt.  It is a very high end, exclusive salt that is not commonly known. At the next stop light, he puts the car in park, jumps out and pulls a bag from his trunk. He returns to the driver’s seat and shares two large chunks of Persian blue salt with me.  He educates me as to their quality and chemical composition, including a chemist report highlighting the makeup.  I tasted both blocks – very tangy!

As we drove, I was struck by the music playing on the radio.  The Italian station played an Italian song and then an American song in English and would vacillate between the two.  We don’t do that in the states.  I felt like I lived a small, backward, arrogant existence at home in the states.  Italy was so open and had an interest to learn about the US, its cultures, politics, language, history, etc.  I found I knew so little in return about Italy.

At this point, while my new friends had a good grasp of English, I found myself understanding nearly everything being spoken, whether being spoken in English, Italian or Spanish.   It was rather magical.

After dropping off his paperwork, he decided to take me on a road trip to explore the surrounding area.  We drove to Fiesole. Joseph regaled me with the history of the area. Fiesole was the original Florence.  According to my new friend, Fiesole was given to a Roman general as a token of thanks for his valor. It is hundreds of years older than Florence and is perched high above the city of Florence on a majestic hill covered with trees that look as old as the city itself. It was breathtaking.

Joseph loves Fiesole.  It fills him with peace and tranquility, which at this point in his life is what life is all about.  I couldn’t agree more as this is how I feel about my home in Napa and I shared that with him.  I explained that while I love Florence and Italy, I am very blessed to love my home and have the same feelings of wonder and appreciation for Napa.  I get up every day in Napa and I love it! I live in gratitude for my life and its amazing beauty.  Soccer man was crestfallen – he was hoping I would disclose that I had fallen in love with Florence and I would never leave.  I smiled.  He’s an open book I’ve read many times in my life.

As we drive up the narrow roads and steep hills, I am very happy.  I am the very definition and look of happiness.  I experienced moments of serenity followed by moments of eager child-like wonder.  I took in everything and felt as if I’d remember this moment forever.

We reach the crest of the hill and the streets are incredibly narrow, only allowing the passage of one car and it feels like the one car barely fits the width of the street.  The Mercedes has censors to warn if an object comes too close to the car.  The censors were triggered warning Joseph that the column of stone walls and homes were too close for its engineering comfort.  With a push of a button, the side mirrors turn inward for protection from the very close stone walls.

Even in the narrow streets, perhaps especially in the narrow streets, Joseph loves to enjoy the sporty performance vehicle and speeds through the curves with the exhilaration of life at the hands of a race car driver.  He tells me he has a home in Fiesole.   Apparently, Fiesole is a home to much wealth and affluence. The stately manor of the towering homes and awe inspiring entrances seem to confirm this assessment.

The conversation flows from history to philosophy of life.  Joseph begins to share his life stories and the richness of his experiences.