Dias Magnificos – Thank You La Thuile…

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” ~ William Least Heat Moon

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now

In early November of last year (2013) an Englishman dressed in green Wellington boots arrived in La Thuile, Valle d’Aosta, Italy. It was his chosen destination largely because it is little more than a four hour drive from Florence, and this was a journey he hoped still to make, though in the end it ended up remaining untravelled.

La Thuile...

La Thuile…

Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you got your reasons

He parked his car underground, detached the battery and wrapped it’s summer chassis against the soon coming cold winter months. Then he picked up a dog and went for a walk… He had drifted more than ever that year and now this was to be his ‘home’ for a little over two months.

These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow

For the first weeks he was virtually alone. Save for the company of the dog and the lady with whom he was staying. Every single day his thoughts drifted down and out of the valley towards the hills from where he still hoped to receive news. Days spent in-between increasingly rare contact blended into one and he became aware he was not living.

One Foot in Front of The Other...

One Foot in Front of The Other…

Don’ you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet

Then one day a man called Vito came to clean the chimney of the hotel in which he occupied room 7. During the operation they chatted. ‘Non mi sembra un coglione’ he said to the Englishman and invited him for an aperitivo. That evening as he walked home, maybe from the spritz, but the stars seemed just a little brighter…

Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get

He was aware that ‘fine things’ were indeed on his table. Most people he had spoken to that year had called him ‘lucky’, but this was a man far from happy. Living in the shadow of a year gone past and unable to escape, he avoided eye contact and kept to himself. It seemed one of two things happened; he was hurt by, or worse, hurt people he let in.

Like My Shadow It's Only Ever Temporary...

Like My Shadow It’s Only Ever Temporary…

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home

14 years on the road had taken their toll. Then one night a text from a friend; ‘poker tonight at 8.’ He lost. He couldn’t play. It didn’t matter. The other players seemed to enjoy his company, listen to his stories and most of all, here he had no past. The was nothing to be judged by or for… and the next week, he was back playing.

And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

‘Where did you park your horse?’ became the standard joke as he entered the places of La Thuile, where ‘everyone knows your name’- his wellies made him famous in the small town, but the jest was friendly and often followed by a beer with his name on it. ‘Notte, see you tomorrow’ – ‘tomorrow’ he had not said that for over a decade to anyone. The power of that word released such happiness in him.

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine

Outside it was cold, but inside his heart was thawing. From outside the Valley had come the message of ‘good-bye’ from Tuscany. It occupied his thoughts and the nights were still lonely, but he had done all he could do and where before was regret and self-repproach, now light, warmth, laughter, were taking their place. Was this what people with homes felt?

It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re loosin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?

Suddenly it was a New Year and the days to departure numbered… 12…11…10. It was a countdown he didn’t want to make. Days were passing too fast. All too soon a familiar bed would be replaced by meaningless room numbers, now friendly faces, replaced by anonymous waitresses, night porters, drivers and guides. He didn’t want it to end.

On Top of The World...

On Top of The World…

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate

Was he coming to his senses? Was this the life he ought to pursue? When you have the road in your blood, how do you get off? 24 destinations already queued up for the coming seasons… Was La Thuile the gate? And if so, could he summon the courage to walk through it?

It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late

But in the end Englishman in the wellies did what he always did; went for a walk and he carried his thoughts with him. He greeted and was greeted. But then he went home to his hotel, washed his clothes, packed his boots into their usual slot in his suitcase. He looked at the bus timetable and chose a bus out of here leaving so early in the morning that when he left, he didn’t see a soul…It was too much.

So, in two days I am off – as always, but it is with a big slice of my heart left here and with a new home in it’s place…Thank you to Danny for the beers and that orange jumper I love, Sarah for the laughs, Silvana who just has the most wonderful smile, Lollo; you are one dangerous man – more Braulios when I return, Sigrun for the hospitality, Davide for just about everything, Stephania (weird spelling) for your house, your smile and your friendship, Lauro for the 3, Manu for Courmayeur, Silvia and Monica for the Coq and the spritz and the company in those first days, Eta for all the walks (whoof), Mauri and Ale – you still run the best place in town, Niclas for the Zigonia and teaching me how to play poker, Carlo for showing me La Thuile in the first place and the dinners (yum yum), Luca for the drinks, English Sarah for being the best rep in the world, Paola and all the staff at the gym – sorry about the key, Vito for setting me out on a new path (if you know the Gattisti you’ll be fine), Erik for the Cage, ‘Syd’, Rosanna, Monique and Violet at the Buvette, Fede for being just about the most level headed person here, Sandro for teaching me how to bluff, Vasta for your good company, Simona (97) for ALWAYS being there – even at a distance and of course C for that call, capturing my heart with ONE smile, teaching me always to look down the valley and falling in love even if only for 24 hours ;-)… I will carry you all in my heart to Cuba, my next destination.

'Forget Your Worries'... Thank You La Thuile...

‘Forget Your Worries’… Thank You La Thuile…

La Thuile, THANK YOU. And appropriately in the words of Che Guevara; ‘He vivido dias magnificos’… I have indeed lived magnificent days.

Take it away Linda…. click here

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~ by 2ndcupoftea on January 10, 2014.

4 Responses to “Dias Magnificos – Thank You La Thuile…”

  1. Safe travels, Kemosabe.

  2. It was great to meet so many of these good people, even if I was only in La Thuile for 4 days. Adriano.

    • They all say hello dear ‘Adriano’… La Thuile salutes and misses you. Think you have a second home here too… x

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