Why I fell in love with Italy

The names and places are changed to protect the innocent.

This is not so much a trip report as a description of an adventure while on a "spiritual" journey in 1976.

January 1976 a friend and I set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Plans to spend a year, maybe more, maybe less, hitchhiking through Europe. He joined my plans late, showing up at my door a month or so before my planned departure begging (ok pleading) to come with me to escape life in our small town. I relented, but it did not take much arm twisting.

We arrived in Luxembourg, via Icelandair, with plans to head to Greece via Italy. Our trip started off auspiciously when a dual national we met at a Luxembourg bus stop turned out to be a college roommate of an old HS girlfriend. What are the chances? Anyways back to the story. On our trip through Italy my friend suggests that we stop and visit the cousin of a mutual friend of ours from the states. She and her Italian boyfriend were renting a farm and invited us to visit. She still lives on the farm and is now married to that boyfriend. He had the directions written down. Our directions were to arrive at this famous central Italian hill town and travel 5 K up a specific road to a small village marked by two bars. We were to go to the bar on the right and ask where a particular Italian (i am not using names here) family lived. Once we arrived at that family's house we were to ask them where this particular American woman lived, then follow their directions. Found the bar, no problem, asked for the family by that name, "Dove casa di _____?" What followed were several patrons of the bar gesticulating, I kinda managed to pick out the destres and sinestras and prossima in the proper order and we were off. One farm house to the next, "Dove casa di __?" and they would point to the next house, rinse and repeat, oh, it started to rain.

Finally, success!!!! We have arrived. We knock at the door. Second floor, barn is on the first floor. "Dove ___ the american.?" They have their young son lead us to a path and he points to long wooded path up a steep hill. We follow, find the house, no one home. We argue about setting up the tent and waiting, or going back to town. He wins we head back, but stop at the farm house first. "Dove ___?" They answer, "Roma." Why did they not tell us this before? The scene though is forever etched in my mind. Four generations of a farm family, sitting at a long kitchen table, fireplace blazing, the only heat in the house. Black and white TV in corner, and what is playing, a Todd Rundgren concert. WOW. They have no place for us to sleep. We head back to the bar. Pouring rain now. The bar has no place for us to sleep. We head to the famous Italian hill town, surely they will have a place for us. 5 K walk, dark, raining, fortunately we get a ride in the back of an Ape.

Sit in a bar in the Italian hill town and try to figure out what to do. We are on a budget by the way. I notice that i no longer have my Nikon. I left it in the bar 5 K away. I am frantic. Decide this time to hire a cab. The cab driver speaks French, I speak French, well more French then Italian. I am in luck. I ask if he knows a place my friend and I can stay. "Yes he says, we rent room in our apartment." Wow I am really in luck. WE get to the bar that is 5 k away, and sure enough, my camera is still sitting there. I grab it, smile at the patrons, "Grazie." They hail me, and before i run out the door, I am poured a shot of white lightening, which i later found out is Grappa. Warmth. I smile and I am off. Wow, this is a great country. Drive back in the cab, pick up my friend, go to their lovely apartment and the cab drivers family is watching black and white TV and what is on? SPAZIO 1999, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, and styrofoam moon rocks. What a trip!!!!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5585 posts

I enjoyed reading both parts of your story. If I could make a suggestion, you might want to put Part 2 of your story on this thread. If you don't, people may never see the conclusion because the posts will be separate. You can just copy your 2nd post as a reply on this one. If you do that, don't forget to delete the 2nd thread.

Posted by jkc
Massachusetts
337 posts

Why I fell in love with Part two.

NOt to bore everyone, but the last bit is here
Three days later we are leaving on the bus to the train station, and my friend notices someone on the bus and says, "Hey I think that is her." Sure enough it is. We connect, and start the trudge back out to her farm. Hike back up the hill. Her bf meets us at the door, hands me a glass of his wine from his vineyard and says to me, first thing, "What do you think of Marx?"
I stay two months, my friend leaves after two days. Ultimately, he ends up meeting some Iranians in Munich and drives a Mercedes filled with stereo equipment across Eastern Europe, Turkey, and onto Tehran. I am sure he has great stories to tell from that trip as well.
I go back to that farm often. I can't explain it, but that place is deeply embedded in my soul.