If anyone was to ask my favorite thing about Italy, I think it would be a toss-up between its people and the mountains. But I guess I like the people in small doses. Venice was beautiful and intriguing but too crowded. And it was time to move on.
Before we left the states while I was looking for lodging, I found one that I insisted upon. There weren’t that many reviews on the agriturismo site, but the photos were stunning. They showed a small stone house dwarfed by snow-capped mountains. Up to this point, I had only reserved rooms at establishments that had many positive reviews, but the photos made me want to give this place, Pian dei Tass, a chance.
As we drove from the Venice area towards this new place, I expected the flatlands to gradually become rolling hills and then develop into mountains. This was not so. It continued flat, and then flat and, well, flat. I wondered if maybe these Dolomite Mountains weren’t going to be all that I dreamed. We were both a bit weary by this point. I almost wished that we could just be done with this whole trip and go back home. We had traveled so many miles, walked many cobbled streets and slept in 5 different beds. This map shows our travels in Italy.
It was time for rest. But we couldn’t call it quits. Matt still had much more work to do including one more installation of equipment in Italy. Just when I was about to give up on the mountains, I saw them in the distance, shrouded in clouds. The landscape went from totally flat to humongous mountains! This sight did wonders for my disposition. There, indeed, was more Italy for me to discover!
First, I had to endure two more tunnels. The first one was curvy and over two miles long. Did I mention I hate tunnels? I gulped a large breath of air when we escaped that one. Then we rounded a curve and came upon the most astonishing water I have ever seen. It was Lake Barcis and filled with beautiful turquoise colored water.
As I listened, I heard a bird call. It sounded exactly like a cuckoo clock! I had heard this bird in the mountains when we stayed with Sergio. And here it was again to welcome us back. You can hear it here.
We met our new hosts, Mario and Olga. Once, Mario, the youngest of seven sons, had left this glorious haven to see the world and earn a living. He worked in Africa and Saudi Arabia for a construction company. While visiting at home, he saw a lovely young woman and asked her to dance. That started a lifelong romance with this shy Belgian girl, Olga. He took her away with him on his travels.
But the call of the mountains beckoned him. Mario returned when his parents were elderly and took over the farm. As he says, “People are more interesting in the country. Things are too easy for them in the city.” And here in the glorious mountains, he, Olga, their son, Marcus, and their granddaughter Marie, work hard to bring joy to their guests.
I guess when you come from such a long heritage; you just can’t resist coming home. Mario told us that his family migrated from Austria in the 1300s and has been there ever since. It hasn’t been an easy journey. When he was just one year old, Nazis marched up the hill straight to his parents’ farm. One of them picked him up on the way. The women from the town of Barcis were all taking refuge in their home, while the men hid in the mountains. The Nazis were looking for the man from the town that had blown up the tunnel to keep tanks from making their way to Barcis. When the Nazis couldn’t find the man, they took it out on the town and bombed it.
Maybe that is part of why Mario left the area for a while. Times were hard. But just as the cuckoo bird welcomed us back to the mountains, so did they to Mario and his family. And I’m glad to have met these wonderful people.
After this we go to England! England 1