Extraordinary Italian Experiences
Continuing with my theme of Italian experiences and resuming my nostalgic trip down memory lane several events stand out as ‘once in a lifetime’ occasions.
Unfortunately, the time of these extraordinary experiences were prior to my decision to study the beautiful language, (La Bella Lingua) of the country I had become consumed by. However, the lack of verbal communication led to charades and gestures which sufficed thanks to the good humour of the Italian locals.
We were travelling with a private group with a mouth-watering itinerary, staying in grandiose accommodation. This was in the ‘good old days.’ After disembarking at the end of a Mediterranean Cruise we were escorted to our Boutique Hotel in the heart of Rome. Following the usual visits to the many points of interest in this amazing city we were informed by a gilt- edged card on our pillows, that the following evening was a surprise. The dress code was Formal. We were to be ready for departure at 4pm.
There was great excitement and anticipation as we boarded a bus to transfer us to our destination.
One hour later we entered a long driveway leading to a majestic castle on top of a steep hill beside a spectacular lake. We were escorted up the pathway with whip cracking demonstrations by colourful young men in medieval costumes. Reaching the top level, we were ushered onto a beautiful terrace with an expansive view over the lake and mountains in the distance. Sipping a cocktail (or two!) accompanied by live music and watching the sunset over the lake, I had to pinch myself.
How did I come to be having this extraordinary experience in Italy?
Dinner was served in an enormous, medieval dining hall where Tina Arena provided the entertainment.
Where were we?
It happened to be ‘Castello Odescalchi di Bracciano’ where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were married.
This was an extraordinary Italian experience for me. It has been tucked away in my memory bank for a long time and I remain incredulous that it actually happened!
A second extraordinary Italian experience that has resurfaced during my recent armchair travel was another ‘once in a lifetime experience’ with the same private group. We were in a bus heading into the countryside to visit the tiny village of Dotti. The population was less than one hundred, but the villagers had opened the entire village to our group. We were serenaded with groups of singers, whip cracking, and stalls lined the narrow streets overflowing with their local produce and handicrafts. We were encountered multiple stalls of locally made wine, jams, preserves, sweets, knitted scarves, silversmithing, pottery, cheese, salami and more. The smiling villagers were dressed in traditional costumes, singing and dancing offering us an amazing welcome. The narrow street led to a large courtyard with flowering creepers on trellises and colourful geraniums in pots everywhere. Long tables were set up under umbrellas and we were served a spectacular luncheon. When it was time to depart we hugged and kissed the happy throng who had offered us an extraordinary experience in Italy. I would never have expected an entire village to welcome and entertain us like these special folk did. We left with armfuls of produce and gifts and loads of happy memories.
I record these extraordinary experiences in Italy, not to brag, but to share that an ordinary person like me, can have totally unexpected, extraordinary experiences. Many of my happiest memories are from living and travelling in Australia, one example comes to mind, waking up in a tent near the base of Uluru in 1962 and looking in wonderment at the changing colours of this unique, sandstone monolith, but my love of Italy lives on. Memories are important to keep alive and worth recording.
I am forever appreciative for these experiences, but I’m also extremely grateful for my home, family and friends and enjoy my current life with contentment.
Stay safe, until next time
PS I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to returning to Italy for one more experience!!
Jenny Old AUTHOR
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’ Facebook