What’s Behind Door Number One?

by Nancy Bestor

There are a lot of ways to attempt to live like a local when traveling abroad. You can rent an apartment and shop for groceries at local markets. You can hang your laundry out to dry on a line strung across a small balcony. You can take public transportation, and walk neighborhoods outside of the main touristy drags. But what you can’t see is how the locals really live. I was reminded of this when looking at the photos Bob took from our travels in Italy last summer, when he focused our camera on door after door, down quiet neighborhood streets in Verona, Venice and the Cinque Terra.


What are the people doing behind those doors? What are they serving for dinner? Do their young kids watch television in the afternoon when their mothers can’t take just one more minute of them running around the house? (Actually, I may be channeling my earlier days of parenting here.) Are they whipping up a delicious homemade pasta dish with fresh crab for dinner? Do they sit in their backyards or on their back terraces and drink a glass of prosecco in the late afternoon while listening to an Italian opera on the radio?


Those beautiful and intriguing doors, letterboxes and doorknockers make me imagine all sorts of happenings going on behind them. Surely their lives are far more cultured than mine. Maybe it’s best that I don’t see behind them, and instead leave their stories to my imagination. I’m certain no Italian mother has ever served her children tater tots and frozen peas. (In my defense I was really busy that day, and my kids actually like tater tots and frozen peas.)