Their friendship began at a train station and, over the years, flourished into a wonderful exchange of culture and ideas.
Mary Arthur, administrator of Hillcrest Manor & Rehabilitation Center in Sunnyside, was touring Italy with a couple of friends in 2002 when they met Matteo Brozzetti, a young Italian doctor.
Brozzetti, who lived in Perugia, was happy for the chance to speak English, and the group spent two hours on the train to Rome talking. Once in Rome, they went and got coffee, talked more and exchanged e-mail addresses.
Over the next five years, they sent e-mails, texts and called each other, updating one another on their lives and issuing invitations for visits.
In 2007, Arthur and her friends returned to Italy, where Brozzetti became their unofficial tour guide. But it was a very unique tour this group took. They were able to go wine tasting, but Arthur said the highlights of the trip were being able to travel outside the tourist attractions and see the real lives of the Italian people.
In 2008, Brozzetti returned the visit. It was his first time in the United States. After spending some time in Seattle, Yakima and then Sunnyside, he flew to Las Vegas and California before driving along the coast and back to Seattle.
On this first trip, Brozzetti got to visit Mt. Rainer, fly over the Yakima Valley and go wine tasting. But on a trip to the United States that ended this past Sunday, he wanted to spend all 10 days in Washington state relaxing with and visiting friends and getting in a bit of shopping.
Brozzetti landed in Seattle on Friday, Sept. 24. Arthur was not privy to his arrival. Instead, she was pleasantly surprised when he appeared at a birthday celebration.
On Sunday, Brozzetti visited his friends in Yakima, where he remarked that he played racquetball for the first time...and lost.
By Tuesday, Brozzetti was in Sunnyside, visiting Arthur.
"Mary is a very good tour guide," he said.
Brozzetti said he really enjoys shopping here in the United States. Everything is inexpensive, he said. And even after he'd finished buying for himself, Brozzetti went on to shop for his boss.
At one point Brozzetti went into an antique shop and he was a little surprised to see what Americans call 'antique.' After all, he hails from a country with 2,000-year-old ruins.
Brozzetti said he saw the American antiques and said, "This is not antiques. It's just old."
Aside from the shopping, Brozzetti says that his experience in the United States has been great.
"Everything you read," he said of his impression of Americans, "And everything you hear is the truth."
Brozzetti says that he enjoys the American culture.
"America fits for me."
But don't expect him to make a move any time soon. While he likes to visit the United States, and once thought he would take the American medical licensing exam, Brozzetti has made a comfortable life for himself back in Perugia with his friends and family.
As a doctor of internal medicine, Brozzetti works for two hospitals and a clinic back in Italy. If that weren't enough, he also manages what he calls a farm house, but is actually a country resort.
"But I still manage to find 10 days off," he said.
Brozzetti left for Italy this past Sunday, but plans to meet his American friends again are already in the works. This time, Arthur and Brozzetti hope to meet each other in Spain this coming March.