While I’m having a shower (this time it’s warm!), Logan is trying to prepare the van. When I come back he tells me what just had happened: When he disposed the toilet contents into the drain, it splashed back onto his hands. Hahahaha!
At 11am we are being picked up by three Italians: Toni, Guido and his girlfriend, none of them speaking English. Since Logan was talking about a four-wheel drive adventure, we expected a 4WD but instead they arrive in a black Golf IV. They take us up to Scanno where we are supposed to leave our Globetrotter and then jump into the car with them. We have no idea where we are going; we can’t even ask them because they don’t understand us and I really don’t like this.
Toni drives into a little yard and there is the 4WD – an old Defender. We swap cars and with Toni and Guido in the front and Logan, Guido’s girlfriend and myself in the back. There are no seats, only two metal side benches and a spare tire in the middle.
Once we got onto the 4WD track I start to enjoy the crazy ride, while Guido’s girlfriend seems to get greener in her face. With the cliff dropping hundreds of meters next to us, we drive up a rocky gravel road for about half an hour. While we get higher and higher up the mountain, the views get better and better. Still not knowing where exactly we are going, we arrive at a mountain hut in a place called Jovanna. It is Toni’s home. The hut is built with natural rock and cement and has a big wooden door. Inside he’s got a dining table with chairs on a cold stone floor and a big fireplace above which is a bull’s skull with boots hung up on the horns. There’s also a wheel barrow inside filled with wood. In the corner I discover a large jug filled up to the top with cork from whine bottles. The same moment Guido pours us a glass of red whine, supposedly the best red whine in all of Italy. We sit down in front of the fire trying to warm up. Meanwhile Toni and Guido’s girlfriend disappear upstairs and prepare our spaghetti.
Guido, Logan and I go to pick up some fresh cheese from the neighbour. He’s digging in the sand with a tractor when we arrive and jumps out with a big smile to greet us. Back at Toni’s house, we cut up some fresh bread and put the cheese on top. How very delicious!
For lunch we are going upstairs into Toni’s kitchen and are being served with some great pasta and real Italian tomato sauce. It is amazing how basic everything is. There is no electricity in the house at all. No computer, no TV, no telephone, no kitchen appliances. The pasta was cooked on a wood fired stove. Toni calls himself “lupus solitare”, the solitary wolf and Guido calls him “The mountain man”. I’m amazed about what a happy go lucky person he is. He keeps talking on in Italian and doesn’t care if we don’t understand.
After lunch, we head over to Toni’s only two neighbours: The farmer we just got the cheese from, and his father just up the hill. The old man has about 12 sheep dogs, two of them being puppies, goats, a little (big! And curious!!!) fawn, ducks and lambs. Again everything is very basic and somewhat impressive to Westerners like us. The old man shows us deer skulls hanging up on a tree which were killed by wolves when they were trapped in deep snow. Apparently deer find it hard to travel quickly in deep snow, whereas wolves are very quick and agile in snow.
We walk back down the hill to the son, who is about Logan’s age I’d say and are given some home made radish liquor. The ranger also drops by and we are all having a “chat”, with us guessing words and using hands and feet for communication. We find out that Toni is 39 and Guido 40 years old. I suppose I’m feeling more comfortable by now and enjoy learning some Italian. He tells us that his house is actually a restaurant and guesthouse for hikers, who are mostly German, Austrian and Swiss. But since it’s only April, the season hasn’t started yet. I think Logan loves it that much, he’d like to live here for a while and he asks if they got employees for the season. He responds that his mother does the cooking and his brother is the builder and helps out as a waiter. It is a lovely place and we keep seeing animals around, still hoping for a wolf or a bear to turn up.
Toni suggests we should go for a “real” four-wheel drive now! So we all hop back into the Defender and ride through the deepest mud a 4WD could possibly get through. I have no words for describing the next hour of driving but I don’t think it get’s any more “off-road” that this!!! Logan, who is experienced in 4WD-ing in sand, is astonished how we keep getting through mud, water, rocks, grass and dirt. Holding on with two hands, both feet and still filming this amazing ride, is hard work, but we manage to get some footage and will upload it onto YouTube as soon, as we get internet here in Italy!
With the Defender covered in mud to the top, we stop by a nice restaurant near Scanno. Again, we are out of season and no one is here. Since the locals know each other we all get a free beer and crackers while having an Italian gobbledygook chat. The owner shows us video footage of wolves he’s filmed right outside of the restaurant and Guido shows us a video on YouTube of bears roaming through the centre of Scanno.
Guido says: “We go back now to Toni’s house for more spaghetti.” I look at Logan, slightly surprised and think, well, even though I’ve enjoyed the day so far, I would like to go home soon. I don’t want to be rude, so we are going back with them for dinner. Back at Toni’s house, we come to realisation what it is like not to have electricity and lights. All we got is fire for light and warmth.
We are being served spaghetti with olive oil and garlic and a few more wines. Time passes by and soon it’s 10pm. I really feel like going home and I also wonder how much Toni has been drinking. Surely, he’d be sober still?!
Logan says: “Maybe we are staying the night?!” I hope he is joking…!!!
Finally we are heading back. I think. But when getting to Scanno, we suddenly stop at a pub. I give Logan signs in all possible ways, without being rude, but he doesn’t get it and we are going inside, all of the boys having another drink. Logan wants to show them how much we appreciate their hospitality, by shouting them a Jagermeister shot. I thought it was nice of him but on the other hand I’m getting concerned about Toni’s driving skills.
Finally we are back in the car with Toni and Guido. First we drop off Guido somewhere near the lake and then drive back to Scanno. Toni then tells us, that he hasn’t got a driver’s license, nor is his car registered. When a police car appears in front of us, he throws up both his arms in the air, shouting: Polizia!!!
Great, I’m thinking. A few minutes later, we arrive back at the yard to swap cars. Back in the Golf IV, we are driving backwards.. against a big rock! Logan and I look at each other shocked. Toni instead says: Tranquilo, Tranquilo! (stay calm) He gives it another try, this time past the rock and with quite some momentum against the concrete wall! He just demolished his car! Toni keeps saying: Tranquilo, tranquilo! I’m hoping we make it back to our Campervan without any more incidents. Suddenly we stop: at the pub again. Logan doesn’t want to be rude but I’ve had enough. “Toni, Campervan! NOW!” He says: “Ora?” I assume it means “now” and say “yes!”. Then Guido walks up to the car and we say good bye to each other and thank you for the lovely day and hospitability. Finally Toni takes us back to the Campervan and I’m just relieved we are back safe and sound.