We took a train from Venezia Santa Lucia to Susegana. I decided to sit by the window, and there I witnessed the light from the sun slowly painting the sky with beautiful hues. Sunrise marked the start of a beautiful day. Halfway through our destination, it started to snow. Oh how unpredictable and magical life can be.
Not long after, we heard a voice announcing our stop.. I think someone told us that the platform was not long enough. And because we were sitting at the far end of the train, we had to hurry and move! So there we go again, running for our lives, together with our luggage. It felt like we were in an action movie, really. Imagine a vigilante-catching-the-villains-on-the-train scene. We were the villains trying to get away. We are skilled so we got off the train in one piece. Haha. Then, we met our Italian guy, Marco Bozzo!! It was a breath of fresh air seeing him after all the hardships we went through. Ahhhh, finally, we would have some rest in the Italian countryside!
P.S. Marco lives in Farra di Soligo, a commune in the Province of Treviso in the Veneto region, Northern Italy. If you’d like to pay him a visit, do let me know! Haha. Kidding aside, he has a very cozy Airbnb room where he let us stay for free. Well, that’s what friends are for. Haha thanks Marco!
Exploring the North
A taste of paradise
It was a beautiful sunny (but cold) day, so to make the most out of it, Marco took us to a peaceful and incredibly beautiful place called La Rondine located in Santo Stefano village, in the town of Valdobbiadene. My goodness, it is a paradise! A paradise of vineyards! The view was incomparable. I was happy to be there, taking in that moment of plain bliss. I felt nothing but genuine happiness.
We met Marco’s family friends and owners of La Rondine, Nadia and Vittorio. They’re the best! A lovely happy couple! They warmly welcomed us with wine and more wine. White and rose, why not??! Not only that, they filled our tummies with GOOD food. It was heavenly.
A taste of history
Marco the tour guide took us to our next destination – Asolo.
Trivia 1: Known as “The City of a Hundred Horizons,” Asolo is a charming medieval town surrounded by lush mountains and hills. It was once ruled by Queen Caterina Cornaro who married the king of Cyprus, James II. Venetians wanted to take hold of Cyprus, but Caterina fought in resistance. Real queen, ey? However, she eventually surrendered the island after ruling it for almost 16 years. In return, she was given the town of Asolo, where she established a court for poets, scholars, and artists.
Trivia 2: Freya Stark, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert Browning lived in Asolo!
It was an unforgettable first day exploring Italy’s other side! The best way to end it? Eat delicious pasta; have some more wine, cheese, and meaningful conversations. Cin cin!
Oh by the way, I’d like you to meet papa Tony, Marco’s dad. He’s a very funny guy! I remember that moment when he scared me wearing a creepy mask! I almost had a heart attack. Lol. Oh, Tony!
A taste of (more) history
On our second day exploring, Marco took us to Abbazia di Santa Maria and Castel Brando. Oh what charming and lovely places! I felt like I was living in a fairy tale.
Trivia 3: “In keeping with the custom of the Order of Cistercians, the Abbey of Santa Maria in Follina stands near a water course, between a mountain and a plain. The monastic complex has been a national monument since 1921 and dates back to the 12th century. In 1915, the Servants of Mary settled in the Monastery of Follina and they still live there today.” (Source)
Trivia 4: “Set on a promontory overlooking Valmareno, with a mild climate typical of the Treviso hills, Castel Brando is a splendid example of the historical and artistic restoration of one of the largest castles in Europe.” (Source)
We ended our day cooking for Marco and his family before we set off for Venice and Rome. Nara made her specialty Russian salad (I miss this huhu). Trang cooked beef strips with pineapple chunks, paprika, and broccoli (Missing this girl’s cooking </3). And I cooked nilagang manok (Filipino boiled chicken soup).
A taste of heaven
After Venice and Rome, Trang and I came back to Farra di Soligo for our trip to the Dolomites!!! I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited! That’s a lot of o’s, I know. Our early morning road trip was amazing! Talk about good friends, good music, and good conversations. Okay, I think I’ve overused the word good. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Oops.
Trivia 5: One of Italy’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Dolomites, constitute the eastern part of the Alpine Mountain Range.
“The Dolomites have always had an enormous impact on the imagination of all those who have seen them. No one has remained immune to their extraordinary fascination, to the extent so that they are universally considered ‘the most beautiful mountains on Earth.’” (Source)
Now, the challenge. Hiking in winter. At first, it was easy peasy, but as we progressed, I didn’t think I could make it to the top. But did I have a choice? NO. </3 I wanted to give up because my legs were telling me to do so, but I had to go on and push myself. I must admit, there were moments my heart skipped a beat just by looking at how high I was from where we took off. I have fear of heights, but I didn’t let that break me. That’s the spirit, right? Haha. After moments of doubt, I finally did it! I reached the top!!! The view??? SURREAL. INCREDIBLE. MAGICAL. What I used to see in movies, photographs, and paintings was there RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES!!! Did you ever have that moment when you feel your eyes glowing because of seeing something so beautiful for the first time? That happened to me. A lot of times.
“..since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive.” – The Pilgrimage (Paulo Coelho)
The way down was kinda slippery, but nonetheless, fun. Having hot cocoa after that hike was a treat. Life’s good!
Why I love the Italian countryside
I think it’s natural for me to feel a strong love for the countryside because I was born in one. It gives me a sense of peace and belonging.
I don’t like crowded places. Hence, exploring the Veneto region, where there are definitely more locals than tourists, was extra splendid! Another good thing is you get to discover hidden gems! I feel a deeper sense of connection to places not a lot of people have been to, places not everyone is talking about. And of course, nothing beats the laid-back vibe, the alleys, the fascinating nature, and the terrific food and wine of the Italian countryside!
P.S. If you ever go to Italy, live with the locals. Your tummy will be happy with all the hearty food and overflowing wine. Not to mention, you get to learn some Italian too. 😛