All through Italy, it was eye opening to realize that the local folks live in these amazing settings so different from our own. The narrow streets, vibrant colors and physical intimacy (we're so spread out here in Vermont for example) seem like things conjured up by a theme park developer for our enjoyment. But no, these folks live here. They have laundry hung outside and basil plants on the windowsill. Oh and these streets and buildings are old.
I felt this recently when a new friend excitedly chattered about entering a real New England General Store which is an unheard of commodity in his familiar urban setting. We have something familiar here that we take for granted that is exotic (that might be just a bit strong) to our friends from several states away.