After feeling uncomfortable with my choice of using an airplane to travel (very unethical), but very grateful i have the opportunity to do it anyways, I landed at Bologna airport and found my way to Enrico’s house.
Enrico I had met on the bus after leaving the Guca festival in Serbia and making my way to Tessaloniki to meet Mario. We spent a crazy night together in Skopje, Macedonia. Bologna captured my interest through all the great stories people had told me about it and I was interested to see some of the projects Enrico was working on, concerning music and migrants. And wow, Bologna is one hell of a city! Without a doubt the most interesting Italian city I visited and the only one I would consider living in for a while. First of all, it is beautiful!
The architecture is stunning, the colours – all orange and red – give the city a comforting warm vibe and with lots students, young people and migrants it is a beautiful colourfull mix of cultures, social projects, warmth, sharing, open-mindedness.
The city is full of free projects and events, based on sharing, caring and integrating.
I was even convinced to sing a song on stage, damn, who could have expected I would ever do that?! They asked me because I had been singing in the house and in the streets all the time. Also, I had been playing Enrico’s guitar in the park,
where I ran into this beautiful lady from Senegal, making these hair decorations, so I decided to get one in the colours of Bologna, a nice reminder of a beautiful inspiring city, which makes me realize the more what makes my heart beat: the beauty of people taking care of each other, especially through food and music.
So much positive energy! A bunch of girls going crazy to the live beat produced by a couple of beautiful very talented men. It’s not so easy and therefore hilarious (the laughing at my own dancing didnt help), I sure need a couple more lessons, but I had a great time 😀
I attended a couple different yoga classes, trying out the different styles possible. One time I ended up in this fancy class with middle-aged women wearing lots of make-up and tight Nike-wear, paying this horrible yoga teacher for private lessons. Of course I am grateful they let me join (with very inappropriate clothing, I carry a very limited wardrobe haha) but decided this was not for me. Another lesson was full of elderly women spending almost all 1,5 hours on just breathing while sun solutations seemed to be too difficult for most. A third lesson was sivananda yoga, which made me very happy! This yoga includes a lot of balancing postures and headstands, which makes it a bit acrobatic. I loved it! My new favourite form of yoga. Together with acro yoga, which I first learned about in Bulgaria, practiced a little bit with Chris in Istanbul and am looking forward to pursue more. Lots of fun!
I also fell in love with Italian sunday lunches ❤ Apparently it’s a big deal and people take a lot of time to prepare and enjoy them together. I had the pleasure to move to the countryside and share the lunch with Enrico’s family: his parents, sister, aunt, two grandma’s, Paul (a fantastic friend of Betta I would meet a couple more times) and Travis.
and he sang us a song he had written. Also Betta played some music on her ukelele and we spent some time in the sun, playing around, doing some headstands and flips, massaging each other, taking a walk around the countryside and visiting the very traditional little town. Isn’t life beautiful 🙂 The food was amazing, of course I would say, we’re in Italy! Betta and her aunt and mother had spent the previous day preparing home made tortelinnis (so today i was not vegetarian) which was just the starter of a couple hours during fantastic lunch, followed by sweets and some small liqour. Everything was there. I never experienced these grandscale family gatherings and whenever I get invited to one I get very emotional. I realize all families have their problems, but I always find it so beautiful to see the members taking time to spend together in such beautiful ways. Great customs, don’t lose them! I have written it before but I realize more and more the importance of family and I feel so sorry I left them behind… I keep struggeling to find a balance between finding my own happiness and being with/spending precious time with/taking care of my family. How the hell do I combine these two? I spend a lot of time and tears contemplating about this question.. anyways, it’s an ongoing quest of finding balance in (one aspect of) life, which is not to to be resolved but to be questioned again and again..
I just love strawling around her streets, especially at night, so romantic <. It was strange to see Mario again after such a long time, and to find out my love for him had not changed one single bit. Some people just bring a huge smile to your face and warm vibrations through your body the moment you see them and even more the moment you get to hug them again! Oke, actually many people have this effect on me 😉 But some are special (‘special’ preferably pronounced in a retarded way :p) and really touch some deeper level inside of me.
After reuniting and getting used to each other again, making sure it was real and not just a dream, the next day I had the pleasure of making fun of a very embarrased Mario. I was invited to watch him play the lute, dressed as a monk at this medeival manifestation in the small town of Arcole.
I thought it was a lot of fun but Mario was incredibly embarrased which made it ever more funny. I supported him by dressing up like a monk too, (unfortunately there were no beautiful damsel dresses anymore :/).
There were a lot of young guys from the fencing school very enthousiastic about these kind of events, volunteering their free time to dress up and play. They thought me some basics about fencing, which was fun!
The boss walked around like a boss, polishing his gun and shooting it in the air now and then. Every one of them was a real character, I enjoyed it a lot 😀 The only thing that really got me down was this horrible falconers who showed their birds by having them sit on pestals with chains around their paws preventing them to fly away, even though they kept trying.
It was so sad to see, I felt ashamed of my name and considered using the swords to free them. It was disgusting to watch and even more disgusting to talk tothem and hear their stupid justifications for keeping the birds captured (‘we didnt take them from free life, they were born in captivity’; ‘everybody needs a job, this is ours’; ‘we fly them twice a week; one hour!’ etc.); made me angry and nausious. I was about to chop the heads of the visitors laughing at the birds trying to fly away, only to be pulled back by their chains. I never understood what is the pleasure of watching animals in captivity.
Back in Venice Mario was in class during the days and we spent lunches and evenings together. We discovered this fantastic Indian restaurant and a little place ran by migrants, resulting in beautiful dishes from around the world, delicious! We also spent some time cooking together, which for me is one of the most beautiful things you can share, especially when someone is as enthousiastic as Mario 😀
I enjoy cooking so much, I more and more think it could be my livelihood.. Just not in these highclass restaurants anymore, but cooking to share, with or for locals, the poor, the homeless, migrants.. Providing them nutricious meals cooked with love and attention. I solely buy organic and do lots of research about nutrition and healthy and natural ways of living. Trying to ban chemicals from my live and going back to natural ways of living. It is beautiful, it gives me so much pleasure and Id love to share this knowledge and experiences! And Mario was a great partner in crime 😀
He teaches me many things to, like how to be a real person, how to follow your own heart, how not to spend your precious time and energy on things and people that bring you down. We are both on the other side of the scale and we respect and learn from each other and grow more and more close. Very inspiring and heart warming!
During my days i visited Burano island, where all the houses have different pastel colours making it the most beautiful and cheerful island to visit, especially out of tourist season and fantastic in the mist, wow.
The palace was stunning by itself but one artist really captured my attention. Sebastiao Salgado travelled the world to photograph untouched nature (and some tribes) and collected the images in this incredible book called Genesis, I would highly recommend!
I spent hours looking at the pictures of all the greatness our mother nature provides us, damn, she is one hell of a lady, you go girl!
While in Italy, I had the chance to meet up with more friends from Italy, it was incredible how the universe worked together to make it possible to see every one of them during these days. So I travelled to Forli! (I used Blablacar for the first time, great concept!)
I had the pleasure of spending the two weeks of permaculture design course in Bulgaria with Roberto and Valentina, who lightened up my days by lots of love, smiles, hugs, singing, guitar playing and helping me in the kitchen. They are the ones that had transported my bike to Istanbul and they inspired me with their projects like teaching beekeeping to refugees and permaculture to children. I helped them paint the walls of their new room in a beautiful house in the countryside, where they would live together with three other families, sharing the house and the garden, growing their own food, keeping bees,
and playing music. Sounds like heaven to me! A fantastic kakifruit tree was giving us great fruit 🙂
And their honey was delicious!
Even though being together like forever and married since a couple years they still prefer to live together with other people and share the beauties of life. Again, very inspiring. I guess I understand, I love sharing all the joys and privileges given to me, I love taking care of people, and enjoy having people around.
Apparently, folkdancing has become very popular under Italian youngsters. They guerilla dance the squares untill early in the mornings. I couldn’t imagine any of my friends from home wanting to join me and enjoyed the opportunity, the warmth and all the people very willing to learn me the steps, whispering ‘mazurka, mazurka’ in my ear as we went along. I wont be taking it up seriously, but enjoyed the experience a lot. Be careful when you try this at home, it might make you a bit rebelious!
The next day Roberto and me drove up to a beautiful place with natural hot springs, after exploring some stunning villages in Toscany. I finally understand why the region is so popular! After dropping Valentina at her ayahuasca ceremony and sharing a delicious pizza at the famous square in Sienna we arrived late at night at the hot springs. We had to walk through a dark forest to arrive at the unbelievable warm natural water pools. With only a very small light we hang in the tree, we got into the water in the otherwise empty forest around us and enjoyed the surroundings till four in the morning, so relaxing 😀
We spent another full day in the beautiful hot springs, where we met other visitors, Roberto played and we sang a lot and were invited to share a barbecue with two Albanian girls and their Italian husbands and kids. We couldn’t eat much though because we were going to have dinner at Roberto’s friend Valentina in Florence. The next day I had the pleasure to be part of another Italian sunday lunch which took hours again :).
but mostly to me another big city full of expensive brands and stores selling things we really dont need for way too much money, meanwhile trying lure in tourists. I ran into a poweryogaclass (which I wont do again). At night there are some nice neighbourhoods with live music in the cute cafes.
Florence has a high reputation, but I figured out I’m just not a citygirl anymore. I was very happy when my friend Fabio, who I had met in Sarajevo, suggested to go hiking the Via degli Dei (Walk of the Gods) from Florence to Bologna together.
It’s a 2200 year old roman pathway through the hills and forest of Tuscany back into Emiglia-Romania.
we shared such a special time together in Sarajevo and that night we spent some time reliving our memories.
The next day it was time to start another adventure together! We started walking the otherwise empty path through very misty forests, which had layed us a beautiful red carpet of fall leaves, making us feel like real VIP’s!
I was so happy to be back in nature again that I started singing ‘ I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak, but I seem to find the happiness I seek, when we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek’ and so we did, we danced cheek to cheek in this stunning surroundings, supported by this beautiful old couple we found enjoying the forest and each other as well. Not being distracted by all these impulses, lights and noises from the city we had very deep conversations where we listened to each other, not just hearing the words, where we saw each other, not just looking, where we felt each others emotions, thoughts and intentions. It was so real, so warm. We recited each other poems and shared the enthousiasm of the beauties of mother nature, feeling timeless and very connected to everything and everyone right there, right then.
We enjoyed the kakis we picked from a tree that had been saving them for us, thank you!
We experienced that where you can walk through the big city all day alone, never having any contact, we made friends easily with the few people we stumbled across in the forests.
With darkness falling and us not bringing a tent or sleeping bags, Fabio and me had to find a place to spend the night. We started spreading the word that we were looking for a place, but did not get a spontaneous invitation. We were sent to the only hotel in town which asked 70 euros per person, no chance in hell! We tried some churches but the pastors were not around to decide on the issue. Then Fabio had the fantastic idea to walk into the Casa di Popolo (house of the people) where a lot of youngsters were hanging around. We spent some time in the bar, talking to the guys and pretty soon someone lend us his tent, we were offered to use the coushins from the couch to sleep on after closing time and another guy called his mum to bring us blankets.
I played chess and we had such a nice night with these guys, very happy to be meeting them there in this very small village with nothing else going on there. Strangely enough most of the people we talked to on our way never heared of the Via delli Degli and we didn’t find any others to join our quest. We spread the word though, the word of this incredibly beautiful path which made us so so happy.
We concluded how great a feeling it is to be no one in the middle of nowhere, which is actually the middle of everything. So much more rich than the nothingness of the busy cities. We enjoyed the power of mother nature which changed her moods several times a day. The path was guided by red and white marks, which were sometimes a bit unclear
and had gotten us on a detour on the moon before. This time we weren’t sure where to go and while trying to figure this out from the field covered in mist appeared these hunters just emptying their guns while walking towards us, yayks, scary! In my mind I waved a white flag but the dogs were already with us.. It was like in a movie. Fabio, it was very nice knowing you.
All day we hardly met anybody and these guys came out of the mist exactly when we needed them. How can I not beleive in the universe when these things happen to me so many times?! The more I let go, the more I see the signs of the universe taking care of me. Once I stop taking control of my life, I feel there is some other force doing just that, with suede gloves and warm intentions. Im learning to really see, my eyes and all my other senses are opening up and I feel the luckiest girl alive and cannot thank the world enough tob welcomed to it. My very rationalistic and sceptical mind has been forced to soften up and my whole being is softening up with it. My friends make fun of me for becoming a hippie and I laugh. I laugh, I laugh and laugh and smile to the world, for it is beautiful!
so we completed our track of that day by 1.30 already. We took our time, did some sightseeing around and started looking for a place to spend the night. First we considered an old abandoned van (like the magic bus!), then I found the keys of one of the chalets at a closed-down campsite, but Allessandro did not agree so we hitchhiked to a campsite that was open. The most adorable old woman showed us the dormitory with bunkbeds and smilingly served us a warm and romantic dinner near the fireplace (who knew dinner could be so romantic at a campsite?!).
I told the guys it would be my first night in 9 months paying for sleeping (I forgot the one hostel with Anne in Split), but I didn’t care, as long as Allessandro was happy with the place, it was good. Somehow -the universe again-, we realized the next day on the road that the lady had forgotten to charge us for the sleeping and we had only paid for the food. Next time I meet her, I will pay double! When we woke up Allessandro had already left and Fabio and me were on our own again. The pace dropped down drastically, since we were to distracted with all the beauty around us all the time 🙂 That afternoon it was Ray Charles guiding us with singing lines like ‘even lazy jellyfish do it – let’s fall in love’ (Fabio’s favourite). After days in the mist, the sun suddenly came out, just when we passed the Via del Solle 😀 and just before finally meeting with our dear friend Venus, showing us her beautiful colours.
She was covered with an orange and red carpet, and when we reached her the sun was setting and leaving an orange, bright pink gloom in the air, before the stars would come out to shine on us (Ella Fitzgerald: ‘stars shining bright above you – night breezes seem to whisper I love you – birds singing in the sicamore trees..’).
That night I arranged a couchsufring adress in the town of Sasso ‘Ugly’ Marconi, wow that town is horrible. We walked more than we expected and hitchhiked the last part to make it there exhausted and all. Our host was not supposed tob e back before 22.00 so we tried to find a nice place to have a little dinner. It didn’t exist. But the pizza was nice! 😀 We ran into a bar where there seemed to be the only party of the year and the people were very nice and inviting. Even the major was there offering us more pizza and welcoming us to his ugly town. After some nice chats we finally walked towards our hosts place, while playing the harmonica in the streets. On the way I realized I had made a mistake and asked this guy to host us the next week, oopsie! Again, I think the universe helped us out though, because we decided to take our chances and walk over to his place anyways, where a man opened the door and tol dus he never heared of our hosts name. It was a false adress! Telling him this on the couchsurfing chat he never responded to the fact that the adress was wrong but told us he would be home now and we were still welcome to come over, very very strange. I contacted Enrico in Bologna, who luckily had place for us to stay that night. We hitchhiked our way there and were very soon picked up by Boudistic Mario who had seen us on the road when driving home and had turned his cart o bring us in the opposite direction of where he was going.
Everytime i am still flabbergasted (I love that word :p) about all the kindness people have in them! It turned out to be an extremely long day when well after midnight we made it to Enrico’s. 90 km walking in three days, we did it and it was great!
The next day we strolled around town and spent a considerable amount of time watching a guy on a plaza trimming down a christmas tree. He was doing this all day and the tree kept getting smaller and smaller. Regularly he would come down his ladder to smoke a cigarette, walk around the tree and decide it wasnt small enough yet. Passers-by stopped and looked at the man, leaving the plaza again with questionmarks still daggling above their heads. We looked at the man, at the passers-by and enjoyed the show, wondering whether it was real or part of some artistic idea. We finally left the square with questionmarks still above our head. So enjoyable 🙂
We ran into Paul, who I had met earlier at Enrico’s family sunday lunch. Paul is beautiful. Fabio is beautiful and togehter we experienced a beautiful day. Paul took us to the library where we snatched a table to have a small lunch, which resulted in a lot of rumour since the librarian didnt agree with us eating there, while the other people around didnt care and we tried to change the atmosphere by smiling and offering food, it was fun :). We transferred to a nice little vegan shop where we ended up reciting each other more poems from the heart, drawing and writing each others notebooks and ‘shaping the world the way we want it to be’ (quote Fabio, recited by Paul). I was happy to see Paul again and he was happy to see me, so he could give me a print of the pictures he took when we were at Enrico’s family. I was so touched! He’s a great photographer and inspiring soul. We met again that night after I said goodbye to Fabio, who had to follow his own path again. Enrico had invited us to a beautiful courtyard garden where the African community had cooked and offered their delicious food and drinks, before the African music and dancing started. I just love love love immigrants, for they bring so much richness to the world. Lets all spread and welcome each other!
Meanwhile I had contacted Nick, who I stayed with in Como many months before. We had such a great connection that we had kept in touch and Nick had told me so many times to go to Bologna. Now I was finally there (and he was right, I love this place!) and he managed to meet me there too!
We spent another great night with him, his brother and some friends, happy we could make it work to meet up again. The next morning we shared a breakfast near the train station where I was picking up Mario. Wow, I ended up meeting all my five italian friends from all over the country in Bologna, my favourite city of Italy for its cultural and social richness. So nice!
All the way from the sanctuary down back to Bologna, 666 pink and orange arcades kept us dry from the now heavy rain. My knees were a bit swollen from all the tough hiking by now and the rain was getting worse, so we decided not to meet with Paul anymore but make our way back to Venice. I’m starting to feel at home there. Mario and I enjoyed cooking together and also discover some great places to go out, like a little refugee run diner which is now Mario’s favourite place in town 🙂
Even though I got sick (probably a combination of the extreme cold in his bedroom and the emotions of going home in a couple days), we spent lovely nights in town. We went to see a (horrible) show in the Fenice theathre, which is such an incredibly stunningly beautiful place to be, we felt very underdressed.
We literally got in on a last-minute ticket (15:29 says the ticket) and were able to see a Mozart opera for only 10 euros. The opera was pretty bad (a woman playing the main characters male role, many tasteless modern scenes etc.) but the place was fantastic and we had a lot of fun together. Another night we went with his teacher and some students to one of the islands where a medieval concert was played, more beautiful than ever. Goosebumbs! On sunday we went to church where Mario sings Gregorian music during the service. They showed us the basements covered in pastel wall paintings, a great place to perform some ceremonies… We practiced a little acro yoga and juggling (not at the same time :p) and fantasized about his grandparents house in the mountains of Abruzzo, which we unfortuantely didnt get to visit this time. Well, something we can still do next time I find the wind blowing me back to Italy (I sure want to explore the south part of italy one day!).
And then the month had ended. Another four weeks of great adventures, many things happening, beautiful people and beautiful new experiences. A time to remember. Memories I will always carry in my heart. My sobby heart. Sobby from the thought of seeing my family and friends again the next day. After eight months on the road. I had very double feelings about this and wasn’t sure I could handle. Many tears had been shed the previous days. Confused. Total confusion. But hey, there we go! Breath in, breath out, I can do thissssssssssssss