Leaving the beautiful snowy Alps of Grenoble behind, it was time to start the Italian leg of the adventure. First to Polonghera, which is a small village close to Turin, where I met up with my friend Rebeca. We have been friends for a long time, but had never actually met in person, so it was quite a special occasion! Rebeca and I have been reading together through the wonderful website readwithaudrey.com, sharing literature, interests and languages. While in Polonghera we also had a conversation with Rob Paul, who built this website and who is passionate about providing people with ways of exploring books together, no matter where they are in the world (we will post a video of this conversation here soon).
Kaira found her first foreign friend in dog Olav, who was (understandably) a bit apprehensive at first about sharing his domain, but after a while graciously showed Kaira all there is to know about being an Italian dog, including his favourite spots around town.
Rebeca is an excellent cook who, being from Venezuela but having lived in Italy for a long time, created both very tasty Italian classics as well as scrumptious Venezuelan masterpieces in her kitchen. Like in France, wine accompanied every meal, and though I liked them all (silly Northerner that I am) Piero, Rebeca’s husband, excused himself for having served me ‘vino petrolium’ (only because the shops were closed on Sunday, when I arrived). In case you are wondering, this is basically ordinary Italian table wine. Fine for unsuspecting Northerners, but an assault on the senses for Italian connoisseurs. It stayed a running joke throughout our time in Piedmont…
We took some time to visit the surrounding towns, which, no matter how small the town might be, all seemed to have a castle! Besides theses noble villages, wealso went to Saluzzo, a quintessentially Piedmontese city, cute and medieval, full of steep alleys, little churches and nice coffee. And that’s not all we did. Thanks to Rebeca’s managerial talent, our stay in Polonghera was very productive as well. She organized a meeting with a journalist from the Corriere di Saluzzo, a regional newspaper, who wrote a nice article about the Orange Dragon Foundation! And to top it all off also, together with Piero, introduced us to the Boman company, who then graciously offered us a sponsorship!
After all that, it was hard to say goodbye, but South Africa still becons in the distance, so, on we went to Trento. Here again I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with some new Servas members! Clara, together with her dog Mila showed us around the city. It was a lovely evening walk. The city center of Trento is small, but very picturesque. It is a university city, so normally vibrant and buzzing, though like everywhere else, corona has its effect. Still, because Trento was in a ‘yellow zone’ in Italy’s system of regional measures, it meant that shops and even restaurants were open, and quite a few people were out on the street. It was the first time in a long while that I had been in an environment buzzing with people and atmosphere. I took some getting used to, strangely enough, but was wonderful at the same time.
Afterwards Kaira and I were invited to Clara’s house for home made pizza. An oportunity too good to resist of course! Here I met her lovely family, who all turned out to be avid travellers as well. Conversations quickly turned to adventures, memories and future plans (especially in Africa) and the opportunities of international exchange. And so again, like in the first part, new connections arose, old connections were cemented and transformed and the Orange Dragon is continuing with new ideas, possibilities and opportunities on the horizon, hopefully also contributing to our big plan, helping others by raising money for cancer research.