As I walked out onto my balcony tonight, on a clear, cold night, I knew the stars would be out in full force. I heard the sound of the cow bells, clanging in the chilly, dark mountain air. The stars, so many, twinkled at me – so many that I couldn’t make out the constellations. I will definitely be leaving a piece of my heart here in San Vigilio di Marebbe and this incredible area of the Dolomiti. It’s gorgeous. Stunning. Beautiful. Peaceful. I’ll say it now – I’ll be back.
When I chose this town out of many little villages in the area, I really had no idea what I was in for. It just looked nice as did many of the others. So, I found a hotel that was still open as it tends to be a winter and summer destination. A lot of the hotels, restaurants and shops close down come mid-September. The hotel I was to stay at was going to remain open til the end of September. But, about a week into my travels I had an email from the owner of my chosen hotel saying that he needed to close earlier due to his wife expecting a child around the time I was to stay. He took the liberty of booking me into another hotel of equal comfort and price. I was skeptical even as I checked out the website of this new accommodation.
So, when I arrived at Hotel Olimpia I was so surprised to have the wonderful Marco, in his Empire Strikes Back t-shirt (he’s a big Star Wars fan), welcome me and show me to an incredible room with a fabulous view of the village and the mountains beyond. And his kindness, and that of Camilla, another of the owners here, has exceeded my expectations. It makes me sad to leave as I will miss them calling me “Mrs Lynne” and the conversations that take place in a mix of English and Italian.
Yesterday as I came back from my hike, I walked into the hotel lobby to greet Marco and a nice Italian couple and their golden retriever. I was immediately smitten with the dog and a conversation ensued in a mix of English and Italian about where I’d been (the Senes hike), my travels and Italy. It was a wonderful exchange as we spoke of Italy, me expressing my love of their country trying to speak a few words of Italian when I could, and Marco and the lovely couple speaking of places in their homeland that are “bellissimo”. Which, in my opinion, includes the whole damn country! Anyway, when I saw the couple at dinner, we said our “buona sera’s” and I laughed as he ate off her plate. They laughed too. People are people no matter where you are!
This morning, I saw the Italian couple again. They were leaving. They came over to me as they said their “arrivederci’s”. He wishing me buon viaggio (good travel) as he shook my hand, and she, remembering the hike I planned to take today, wishing me “buon Fanes”, and kissing me on both cheeks. I almost cried right there. THIS is why I love to travel. And this is why I love Italy. The Italians are intensely passionate people. They are social. They love their family and friends. They love their animals. They love their country, even when they don’t agree with its politics. They love LIFE. And, when you express to them that you love Italy, they will love you right back. If you can use even a few words of their beautiful language, they will appreciate you.
While I dread leaving San Vigilio di Marebbe in the morning, I know that more of Italy awaits me. And, I do know that I will return here. This little village that Marco so loves because there is no cinema, no disco, has so captured my attention. There’s just no way I won’t be back…