“The Creator made Italy by designs from Michelangelo.”Mark Twain
Before this trip when we thought of Italy, the big cities came to mind: Rome, Venice, Florence. The most eye opening part of our journey has been experiencing small town Italy: villages with a population of 500 or so, with lineages to a time before the Romans.
One of these places was Macenano, where we stayed at hotel Ai Tre Archi Pizzeria. We arrived there after a trek of 25 kilometers (about 15 miles), which included a brutal hill climb and having to dodge a large pair of hissing attack geese. Fortunately, trekking poles kept them at bay. Hissing, “Roast goose,” back at them didn’t deter them. Maybe if I had done it in Italian.
Our hotel had a balcony overlooking the courtyard which was populated with café tables and an extensive array of—children’s play equipment, including an electric-tot-sized-car. Like many small town businesses, Ai Tre Archi is a family business. In this case, at least four generations are involved. The fourth generation is an adorable little boy, almost three.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and I noticed that the dad and his son were playing with a rugby ball. We struck up a conversation about the sport as I had played rugby back in Montana, when I was about the father’s age. He tried to get me involved in the passing drills but the little one was too shy.
Despite having “pizzeria” in the name, Ai Tre Archi is a full service restaurant. The mother of the shy, but budding, rugger, is the chef. We were the only Pellegrini there that night but the place was crowded with locals. Great-grandmother entertained the youngest generation while the rest of the family kept the guests fed, and happy. The whole place felt like an extended, happy, family.
The big towns have their history, art, and monuments. They have been incredible. But we also have to be on alert. One of our Italian friends said that, “Thieves are attracted to tourists like flies to honey.”
Out in the country there are signs, “Attenti al cane” (Beware of Dog), complete with a picture of a ferocious German Shepard. There are also plenty of signs warning of video surveillance. But we also see plenty of unlocked bicycles, unsecured mailboxes, and other indications that life is more simple, and safe.
One of our greatest joys on this pilgrimage has been to experience a slice, a small slice, of small town Italian life.
TRIP UPDATE: We reached Roma on Tuesday, October 8th. I haven’t done as many posts as normal as this has been a challenging trek and my right foot has been killing me. We have a few days to recover and then head off to Milan, then Valencia, Spain.
We dedicated this journey to my cousin, Will. During this journey he’s had a number of surgeries but is now at home and on the mend. Thanks for your prayers and kind thoughts.