Have you heard of a place called Alta Badia in the Italian Alps? Do not worry, because neither had I. Not before I was lured up there by two friends and a Rock festival. It is years ago, but I remember the trip as it was yesterday.
There are no busses and no taxi in Alta Badia, so if you plan to go you will have to arrange with local transportation or rent a car. This is where the hikers go for the stone roads and the beautiful nature during summer. And the ski enthusiast is daringly challenging the mountains in the winter. Consider I do not belong to any of these categories, I would have not found this place in a million years by myself.
First we spent a few days in Milan, which was fair to behold. With only a few days there I cannot say that I really got an impression of the city. And from there we went further up to Bergamo, who is widely acclaimed as a city of rare beauty. I saw little from the train, and the rest of the days I stayed sick in the hostel. Damn air-conditioning. I would go as far to say that I have never been there. But as we traveled from there and further up in the terrain by train, the scenery became more and more impressive. Train in Italy is actually a great way to travel.
It totally took me by surprise, and I am not exaggerating when I am saying that the scenery in Alta Badia looked to be taken out of a Disney movie. It was so beautiful, and the family we stayed with was fantastically friendly. I am not to found of homestays, but in Italy I would do that just for the food. We were served homemade pasta with tomato sauce and spread of basil. Do not ask what was in that food, but I can tell you that it was no ordinary tomato, basil and pasta. It could be that I was hungry as well, because although being a simple dish with no meat, it was just amazing.
After we reported our arrival to the festival manager, we were quickly placed at the front gate. And that was interesting in so many ways. Looking as tutti-frutti rockers, with blond hair, and pastel t-shirts we were not exactly blending in. And the more of the Italians rockers passed, we realized that we were just as much the attraction, as many of the bands. Surprisingly few spoke any other language then Italian and German, and we were forced to learn basic phrases to be understood. The trouble came when they answered.
A cute Italian walked passed me several times when I stumbling tried to explain the prices on the festival pass. I do not know what came over me, because I am usually not that bold. This time I obviously was. I got someone to help me to write a phrase down. It said; do you want to dance with me. After practicing that phrase for a couple of hours I finally found the courage to try it. It was well received with a huge Italian smile, and he twirled me around in the mist of head banging rockers. Then he got a friend of his to translate, and he invited me to see the view over Badia. That is some view I can tell you, but it soon was clear that we had only one word in common. And that was snowboard. I understood from the music he showed me that he was a hard rock fan (no surprise there), but other than that it was little conversation. *Clears her throat*
After enduring days of Italian hard rock, in the most surreal scenery one can imagine – With a little flirting here and there with Mr. Snowboard. And he never seemed to learn more English words? Despite how much effort I had given to my whole sentence? – My strange week came to an end.
On the last day there, it was the grand finale in the World cup in soccer. Italy had made it to the finals and was playing towards France in what would be the European battle. After getting to know this small community, it was no longer strange that the entire village, together with the festival staff and participants, crowded together in the food tent. The game was showed on a big canvas looking thing. It was an extremely exciting match, and even I who could not care less about soccer, watched in full concentration. Off course with my newly bought Italy T-shirt. When the chances came, and the game grew more exiting the tent rose from the ground, and when Zinedine Zidane ended his career with a head butt in to Italy defender Marco Materazzi, I thought a volcano was gone burst in the mountains. The table I was sitting on was shaking, and people were screaming in fits. That is when I realized how serious this was for the Italians. What an ending to the week. The penalty came, and the joy and tears started pouring down on the hard rockers cheeks, and you could see the ruff men wipe their noses in between the black long hair. The whistle blew, and it was a fact. Italy was world champions, and grown men shed more tears.
When they stood in front of the canvas and sang to the players who greeted to the camera, I realized that this was a moment I would remember forever. It was emotionally powerful how they kissed each other with such passion and cried out their national anthem. I grabbed my camera and moved to the front of the crowd, and as I am pressing the button, the unthinkable happens. My foot gets stuck in a cable and I fall backwards to the dirt, and bring everything with me. The sound goes dead and they stops singing. As I look confused up at the crowd, the screams starts again, but this time in horrible anger towards me.
Thankfully an elderly man comes to my rescue and calmly guides me off and to the safe side of the tent. I thought I was gone die of embarrassment. My friends came to me and even though they tried to stagger their amusement when they saw my devastated face, it was clear they had problems holding the laughter inn.
It did not take much before the Italians rushed to celebrate their victory; they brushed past us like we were air. We halfhearted tried to ask where they were going, but they did not have time or maybe they did not want to. Each car was full when they left one after the other. Soon it was not many left, and we stood there three Norwegians in a small empty village. Watching as the cars with the waving flags honked past us in celebration. Our local friend told us that they had all gone to the nearest city to celebrate. I have never wanted a taxi so bad in my life. How often are you in the country that wins the world cup? But for the Norwegians, it became a quiet night, and what seemed to be a deserted village.
A local drove us to the train station the next day, and as the train moved south we could see the signs of the nights partying everywhere. Men were still drunk outside their little houses and the flag was up on every pole. All I could think of is that I missed out on the party of a lifetime in Italy.
It did not even help that I three weeks later got a phone call… it was a girl on the other line. She asked with an accent: Am I speaking with Anne? Yes, I answered and got curious. Then there is someone here to talk to you the voice said. I heard fumbling as the phone swooped hands and then a clear Italian male voice. Hello… Anne? Then he raised his voice to what can only be compared to a howling dog. Anneeee, I looooove you… hello? Anne, I loooooooove you… then the phone went silent. And I knew it was no point in answering. Because it was Mr. Snowboard, who had finally learned a few more English words…