I know my words, no matter how poetic, nor my photos, no matter how HD, will ever do this weekend justice.
I was invited to spend the weekend in a mountain cabin with the family of a friend of my host. I jumped at the chance to get away (cheaply) for our three-day Halloween weekend.
Cultural point: In Italy, they have off the day after Halloween, All Saint’s Day, as a day to clean off tombs at the cemetery. Morbid, but nice at the same time. Surprisingly to me, no one really seems to take advantage of this rest day by partying or trick or treating late into the night. It’s kind of a shame; America would definitely put it to good use!
We drove out to Alpi Devero Thursday night; it was about a 2-hour journey in which I promptly got car sick on the first mountain bend…like clockwork, every time. We arrived and parked in an underground parking garage in the middle of nowhere. There are no cars in the village where the cabin is near, so we took our luggage out and walked. Heck yeah, it was cold and windy but I was too excited to really take notice. We “celebrated” Halloween in a lonely local bar and then called it a night at 1 am. At this point in my weekend journey, I could barely see past my nose so I had yet to see our location.
And then I woke up to this right outside out cabin door:
Can you see why I am at a loss for words? The mountains are at my doorstep and everything is perfect.
We spent the good weather of Friday outside hiking. It was 8 degrees Celsius, so definitely chilly but with all the trekking I was lightly sweating with a t-shirt and light jacket on. Every bend, every turn was a new surprise and I have never seen mountains covered in the rich colors of autumn before. The serenity and all-encompassing beauty just took my breath away.
In the mountains we would come across a little house perfect nestled in the valley and my hosts told me that shepherds spend their summers here with their herds making cheese. I couldn’t believe something this cute still existed and the rest of my hike consisted of singing “The Hills are Alive” in my head over and over again. Thankfully, I did refrain from re-enacting the scenes in real life, however.
On Saturday, another super cool thing happened: I popped over to Switzerland for lunch! Man, I sound really pompous saying that but that’s what happened! The weather was drizzly so hiking was a no-go, so off to Switzerland! We drove around little (eerily empty) villages and I got to see the Jungfrau mountain decently close up (for a mountain anyways).
We then drove back to Italy and stopped by a local village for a festival of Apples and Honey (Mele e Miele in Italian). From a distance, I saw the church with a huge picture of a saint on the outside. My host told me that it was saint-someone-or-other and I swelled with art history pride because I could teach my Italian hosts something! Bear with me for this nerdy moment.
My thesis was about Italian plague saints (I know, where they heck did I get that idea!?). St. Christopher became associated with the plague because of a legend that said if you looked upon his image you would not die that day, pretty handy when the plague was ravaging the continent. So, they painted his image many many feet high on the outside of churches so that it was pretty impossible to not look at him at least once a day, genius right!?
His images were extremely difficult to find for my thesis, hence my giddiness. (side note: St. Christopher is sadly not officially part of the church’s saint list after 1973 because there was not enough evidence that he actually excited. Although, no one seems to take notice of that)