Mid-way through our recent trip to Italy, my husband, Michael, got bronchitis. We had to take it easy to conserve his energy. After 4 days recuperating by the seaside we decided to venture into Pietrapertosa, a small mountain village in Basilicata. To get there by bus we had to go through Potenza-- a sprawling, non-charming city that Michael had wanted to avoid at all costs.

All the connections worked well. As we rolled our duffels down the cobblestone street people kept pointing us in the direction of the town's only hotel. When we arrived the little old Italian woman out of Central Casting welcomed us to the otherwise empty hotel, checked us in and asked if we'd like something to eat. Her daughter served us bowls of handmade orecchiette. We were full with one course. Afterwards we asked the daughter directions to the nearest bancomat.


Apparently there was no bancomat in town. Oh well. The room was really cheap and surely we had enough cash to cover it. Foolish of us not to come prepared, but no big deal.

We strolled around the town briefly. Michael didn't have strength for much. We sat in a nearby piazza in the sun and listened to a local character tell stories of his war experiences. We only understood about ten percent of what he was saying but no one seemed to mind.

Later that afternoon we thought we'd better check on the room bill and make sure that was taken care of. We discovered that by eating that bowl of pasta we'd accepted a half-board arrangement so that instead of 35 euros a night the room was now 78. They didn't take credit cards and we were an hour away from the nearest bank. The frustration I was feeling was mostly me kicking myself for getting into this mess.

We suggested various arrangements and almost had the old woman ready to accept our 65 euros and change, but the daughter wouldn't budge. We determined that we would have to take the bus into Potenza in the morning, go to a bank, catch a bus back and stay an extra night in order to pay for our room. The buses didn't run often enough to allow many options.

We stomped back to our now much less attractive room. It was cold and we couldn't seem to get the heat to work. Plus they were having a family party that evening directly below our room. From 7 to midnight we heard shrieking children and Italian pop music. It was truly hell.

I wanted to open my heart for a miracle. Michael was so miserable. I thought maybe we could pay someone to drive us and then bring the money back. We knew with certainty that we weren't staying another night in that place.

In the morning I thought we should have another go at the owner and convince her to lower the rate. Michael said no. Overnight he'd had a change of heart.

With our limited ability with the language we could never make our case. Besides, he said, "These people don't meet many Americans. We could make a big stink and leave the impression that Americans are bullies, or we could suck it up and be gracious for our country."

I got my miracle.

I won't go into all the additional magic that happened that day, the kindness we received from strangers. We took the bus to Potenza, got the money, returned, paid the bill, had a pleasant exchange, got to stay in the room until 4pm, went back to Potenza and caught the bus to our next destination. On the ride there I was filled with love for my husband and my country.

Author's Bio: 

Life Coach. Liz Sumner, M.A., CPC, of Find Your Way Coaching, specializes in mid-life reassessment. Are you living the life you want? Are you fully expressing your power and passion? Continuing in this direction, will you reach your goals? Take her free assessment and find out how powerful you feel. Or schedule a complimentary session to see if coaching can help you find your way.