When I was six, I got lost in Italy. I was on the beach, eating an ice lolly (I wasn’t allowed ice cream) when my parents told me to wash my hands. I wanted to rinse them in the sea, but I wasn’t allowed to do that either.
That’s how I got lost – on my way back from the tap.
An Italian man tried to help, asking everyone if they were my mum and dad. When we couldn’t find them, he told a local police officer and sat me with his family on the beach. It was like joining a party! Rugs were scattered over the sand and boxes of hot, steaming Italian food sat under big, colourful umbrellas. We built sandcastles, ate gelato and swam in the sea, something my parents didn’t allow. I played with the kids my age, completely oblivious to the language barrier. I felt free, wild, and like I was there for days.
When I eventually saw my parents in the distance, I pretended not to see them. I was having the time of my life! When the beach emptied, my new Italian family decided to take me to their villa. When we got there, music, clanging pans, and the smell of fresh lemons filled my senses.
It was one of the most memorable days of my life. It was the day I realised there was more to life than the home I grew up in.
Now when I travel, I loved being invited into people’s houses.
You can’t recreate that type of hospitality. It’s not tourism, it’s something far more magical.
Dawn Simone, Founder of Sia Mondo Escapes