Many of you know already, but there’s probably also some among you who don’t: I’m a mountain girl, through and through. And you know what? I’m damn proud of it.
I was born and raised in South Tyrol, the most northern Region of Italy. And in my eyes, having had the opportunity to spend my childhood in this Italian part of the Alps was one of the best things ever. There’s no doubt that this place has shaped me to the person I am today, in all the good ways.
As far as I can remember I was a very happy and active child. With the vast options of spending your free time up here in the mountains, I recall having spent almost every weekend climbing a different mountain, hiking a different trail, visiting a different castle. The best memories I have, all took place in the outdoors.
We lived in the center of a very small mountain village, 1.400m above sea level, on a street where many other children in (more or less) my age were living. My best friend and I would spend numerous afternoons outside and play, taking our mountain bikes across the village to different playgrounds or the shallow parts of the creek (see header image) where we would pass hours and hours exploring and just wandering about the nature.
And I will most definitely never forget our secret place, an abandoned high stand, up in the woods. As I’m writing this I’m looking out my kitchen window to the mountain, where I can still spot the shabby wooden house in the distance. Thinking back today, I’m shaking my head at how far we have climbed every time to get up there, not to think about the dangerous situations we have gotten ourselves into. *giggles* We used to take our backpacks filled with blankets, food and empty bottles that we would fill at a nearby spring we discovered. Ah, good times.
And every once in a while, we would gather all the other kids on the street and spent the whole afternoon and evening playing Cops and robbers. One game usually stretched for hours and the game area included the whole village. I remember that one time, my friend and I found such a good hiding spot that we were never found and didn’t realize until long after that everyone else has gone home already. Not that we cared much, but it was still funny.
But I’m only getting off track here, dwelling in my childhood memories – pardon me! 😉
Everyone knew everyone. And that was as much a blessing as it was a curse. I feel like since you know so many people around here – because let’s face it: there really aren’t many – everyone acts so much nicer. I learned to greet everyone, even strangers as they walked by. You’ll quickly get involved in a conversation and friendships develop easily. And the chances that you meet them again are very high, since there aren’t many places to go and the ‘hotspots’ were few.
The downside of this everyone knowing everyone-thing? News spread really fast. Thank god no one seemed to care enough about me to start spreading any stories…. at least not that I know of. Hm.
And further, growing up, there was only one club in the area and literally every teenager between the age of 16 and 20 went there. Every weekend. It’s funny to think about it since I’m living in a big city now and there’s so many clubs that I haven’t even been to all of them even once. But you know, if that’s what you’re used to and if you don’t know it any other way, you don’t really see anything too wrong about it.
Every time I come back here from Vienna, I start to appreciate this place more and more. As a young adult with big city dreams and the desire to travel I wanted nothing more to escape this place, but I came to realize that somehow, this village has now become my sanctuary. This is where I can escape reality, get nostalgic, have some time off and feel alive and fresh. Feel like myself again. The person that city life is trying to push out of me.
I don’t expect you to understand this because if you have never felt it yourself, you can’t. But I believe that this is the magic of ‘coming home’ – feeling suddenly put together again without even knowing that you weren’t entirely complete before.
And even with all the negative sides of all this, like having had a 1 hour trip to high school everyday, there being only one bus per hour who left the valley or the constant cold weather – I wouldn’t trade it all for anything in this world.
Because I was the girl who could sled down the hill to elementary school in winter and who would never complain about the cold when her class mates from the cities did. I was the girl who could come home from school at noon and hit the slope that runs by my house at 12:30. I might have been the girl who lived far away from everything but I still made the effort to be at every event…
And even though this life might not have been for everyone, I kinda pity everyone who didn’t have it.