Where do I begin in a place like this. It’s hard to put all my thoughts together it seems, though I’m going to try here. To answer the un spoken question of where I’m at, the answer is Castelrotto near the Switzerland border of Italy. This place is incredible. I’m in a four star hotel roughly 1000m ( I’m not converting it because I’m lazy, and it only shows the meters since this is Europe) up in the mountains. It’s gorgeous. The light that comes cascading down through the broken clouds today, seem to caresses the hills that are covered in the textures of green found in the evergreens and the shades found in the fields of grass up here. Talking with one of my friends up here shortly after arriving, we came to the agreement that this place is beyond beautiful and it blows all the man made marvels we’ve seen out of the water.
I’m trying not to ignore the observations I should be making concerning culture, though it is easy to do so in such beauty of these rolling and cutting mountains. So, here we go, this is my attempt to get down to more serious stuff…ish.
The town here is so much removed from anything Italian its hard to believe this is Italian. If you were to come to Italy through the north, you’d never assume you were actually in Italy till you reach the base of the mountains. Up here it looks so much more German, or even Swiss. The buildings are decorated in the German colors, the German roofs, and the classical paintings telling the stories of famous saints such as St. George who bested the Dragon.
I fell like I’m getting two countries in one with this place. As I sit in the lobby even, the languages around me are German, Dutch, and I’ve heard some Swiss, but no Italian. It’s great, I’ve gotta admit its nice feeling a bit more removed from the same old fast pace travelling and cities we’ve been in the past two weeks. I couldn’t imagine any place more fitting to rest up in than the Alps, and where else are we than that.
It has me curious to see how the rest of this time here in Castelrotto will be, since it is obviously more influenced by the north rather than its Italian nationalism. I was talking earlier while on the cliff side path with a friend, how its seems easier now to look back and appreciate places as busy and dirty/ cluttered as Rome or Milan. (Clean Air here is incredible, and I didn’t think I’d notice such an obvious difference in air.) I think the value of those cities is found in their history. The history there is the basis of everything they do, yet they are so transformed from what they once were. I don’t really want to dig too deep into that in this post, simply because it would take much longer than I think I can focus on doing.
But, I do believe I need to at least note that it seems that the cities are much more a product of the every changing world than these towns.. I guess that’s rather obvious. So maybe I should talk a bit more about it. Rome for instance was very much a city that capitalized on its history. It builds anew all around the old. It’s a culture that respects and honors its past it seems, but the people are modernized in the sense it fits in with many other major cities. The people are from all over, its family oriented, but its also forward looking. Milan too, that was very much future focused. While I saw many families relaxing around the parks, the businesses were built around historical sights to grow from that it seemed.
Yet, here, the mountains surely are protecting the towns from such growth/ change. I prefer it that way. I love this place, and I hope to come back time and time again if God plans for it. Its trapped in time, while it has modern technologies and luxuries it is almost priding itself through an even stronger honor for its past. There’s a horse competition in the next week that roots itself centuries back, and it carries (well what it looks like through its advetisments) a medieval revival. Its true respect to history.
I know its only the first the first night here, but I feel like it might be safe to assume that here life is strictly about family. That business is less about store fronts and more about feeding the family. It’s a pride in ones own work I think. It looks like the history isn’t necessarily a selling point, but rather it’s a joy that they wish to share, but in a quieter manner. It’s letting the history and nature speak, which I think can be missing in the bigger cities. I love the ancient buildings, and they left me speechless, but I think modern culture has muffled their voices a bit through tourism and marketing. Here their voices ring truer. I hope I’m at least right about the voice of this place if anything, but we’ll see what comes about in the next couple days of relaxing and hiking in the Alps.