In my last post, I detailed my dislike for committing to events and how when I commit to things, sometimes I feel trapped. A large part of that feeling is driven by my desire to travel. I've always imagined life for me would be full of picking up and going - placing things on the calendar too far in advance is like committing to a life not traveling. *shudder*
Back in 2009, we took our 7 month old to Italy for 3 weeks. We had planned a several night stay in Civita Di Bagnoregio and we were really excited about it. We had planned our trip almost entirely using a Rick Steve's guidebook. The plans had been great the whole time, and then we got near Civita Di Bagnoregio. It's known as a dying city where the edges of the city are literally falling away.
We were booked to stay in this city for two nights, and boy were we unprepared! We arrived on a Saturday - we were staying two nights because the busses don't run on Sundays - so we were somewhat stuck in the dying city.
As we entered the city center, we realized just how dead this city was. We saw a few other people as we walked around, but they were day tourists - when they left, we were alone.
We were staying in the only hotel, there were two rooms available to rent - the third was sometimes occupied by the innkeeper. We happened to be the only guests staying over the weekend. If I recall, the innkeeper wasn't even there that evening. After we unloaded our bags in the room, we walked around, which took all of 5 minutes from one end of town to the other (including stops to take pictures). It was neat as it was so empty, it really was a dying city - it was one of those, almost mind blowing things - to walk around and imagine what it was like when it was a bustling city full of people.
When evening came, we had dinner at the Inn. We hadn't stocked up on food for our daughter, which we hadn't anticipated being a problem. She had just started on solids 1 month prior to the trip, so we were finding things like apple sauce, cooked carrots, and some other fruits I can't recall in detail this many years later. We settled in for dinner and I remember that they didn't have much food for us. Thankfully they had some carrots and they cooked those up for our baby girl. The girl working at the Inn was very sweet, she was enamored with our baby. She was limited in her english, and we were limited in our Italian... so when she asked if she could hold our daughter, we thought...okay, it's apparent that babies aren't common around these parts and her enthusiasm over our daughter was sweet - sure, here you go...
Then my mommy panic set in as this person I didn't know, rushed around the corner, out of sight with our kid. Pete jumped up and followed her into the kitchen to find that she was showing another girl our daughter. Pete was taking a while, so I got up and found them all in the kitchen. I think my hubby was trying not to be rude, and they were just enjoying the heck out of her, playing with her and trying to make her laugh. I wasn't comfortable with our daughter being taken out of our sight, so we took her back and finished our meal quickly as at that point, my protective mama bear instincts were a bit alarmed and I was faulting myself for handing my kid to a complete stranger.
Now, there was no harm in what happened, and I'm sure these girls were very nice. I just wasn't okay with someone running away with my kid. Even though we were in this tiny dying city, my mama instinct was telling myself I shouldn't have let a random person hold my kid. I will always remember that feeling. It wasn't a good one.
We finished up our meal, and the girl who'd been serving us told us that she lives in Bagnoregio (on the other side of the footbridge) and that she and her friend would be leaving to go home soon. She asked if we needed anything more.
We headed up to our room and realized that we were pretty much alone in this city. We heard a few people in the square as we put our daughter to bed, but eventually they all took the foot bridge back out of the town and all was quiet. So. Quiet.
You could say I panicked. I realized that we might be the only people on this chunk of land, and I was freaking out. We had nothing to do. We had no food. My hubby and I started messing with settings on our SLR and taking freaky pics of ourselves - making us look almost like ghosts. We really had nothing else to do. We are night owls, and the night was quiet, we were alone, and we were bored as heck - limited to our room since our daughter was sleeping - and if we'd left the room, there wasn't anywhere to go...
The next morning, my hubby and I were given typical packaged chocolate filled croissants for breakfast. They didn't have anything our daughter could eat (she hadn't been introduced to chocolate yet!). She was getting pretty cranky, and we had resolved to leave the dying city and find somewhere else to go for the night - we weren't sure where, but we didn't care - we just wanted to get out from the feeling of being trapped. We weren't quite sure how we would leave, considering bus service was shut down for the day mad we needed to somehow get to the train station in Orvieto - a 14 mile journey from Bagnoragio. We decided we would walk there. It would take most of the day, so we wanted to get something for our daughter to eat first. We wandered around and found a wonderful little cellar where a lady was making bruschetta in a wood burning oven. We asked if she might have some fruit for our daughter and she said no, but then remembered that she had packed an apple in her lunch that day and offered to share her apple with us. Wow! We were so thankful. Her english was great and we enjoyed listening to her tell us about the city, and about the lack of kids in Italy as women are focusing more on careers than making families these days. She told us that Italian women typically stay home when they have babies and that was likely why we were getting so much attention with our baby - because we were out and about with our kid, and everyone loves babies. We thanked this lady for sharing her apple with our daughter, and then we went about our morning, trying to figure out where to go and how to get there.
We happened across a touristy looking couple and I told my husband I was going to go ask them if they'd driven into the area and if they might be going back to the bigger city where the train station was located and if possibly we could hitch a ride with them. First, the lady was absolutely shocked that I approached them in English. She said, "How did you know I speak english?" I told her there weren't many options for me to choose from, and we were desperately trying to get out of Civita Di Bagnoregio with our baby and that I'd never before hitchhiked, but that they looked safe - so figured it was worth a shot. They accepted our plea and so we grabbed our bags, checked out of the Inn and started the trek across the footbridge with this couple.
Come to find out, the couple were from Canada and the woman was the mayor of a providence there. Wow! I have had quite a few random encounters with famous people in my time, add this one to the list (more stories to come). We chose our hitchhiking buddies well! We had a great conversation on the 40 minute drive (it was a winding road, not a straight shot). We realized that it would have been a bit nutty to try to make that walk with our packs and with me carrying our daughter in the front pack. We were so thankful to have found this couple!
We parted ways once we reached Orvieto and then we headed down the trolley to arrive at the train station in the nick of time, to just barely catch the last train out of town! We made it to Cinque Terre where we spent 4 nights on the tail end of our trip.
Have you been to Italy before? If so, what was your favorite city?