Melancolic Auronzo di Cadore

I’ve always been a fan of Sunday mornings. So here we are in a pastuccheria pastry shop on a sunday morning. Bustling with peole all in to get their morning fill, and we are no different. I have a cappucino and a warm fresh chocolate filled pastry. The servers here are awesome, I didn’t need a big dose of charm to get to plug in my telephone to get s full charge. All the locals know each other and are actually very warm regardless of their look of aprehension. The usual chorus of “ciao!” “ciao!” resounds throughout, almost as though transported by the servers’ platters as they bring beautiful pastries and fancy coffees to the patrons. They are reading the pink-papered italian newspaper or discussing the latest gossip, just like you’d imagine any coffee shop in the world.

The real question though is what are we doing here? Well, we’ve taken two days off to have a nice time in Auronzo, where I have so many memories with the family in 2008. Mostly, I wanted to revisit the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the natural wonder of three naked rock-faced peaks on the border of Italy and Austria. But something rather unexpected happenned: there is still snow. As in 2 meters of it. On the road up. So… It would be quite difficult to go around in so much snow, canadian or not.

The sights are beautiful and I am totally loving being here, and we’re going to go for a hike a little bit later on the smaller mountains right behind the lake. Yet something is different : there is a feeling of nostalgia, of another epoch, better times for this touristic village. And it sort of makes me sad. I had thought the empty streets were due to the fact that right now its off-season. But apparently the town, its surrounding areas and even the wood and glassess industry are experiencing a slow-down since the 80s, but especially since the crisi. We were in the grocery shop for veggies to make a salad last night when I happenned to ask for help to a man who lived in Canada for 10 years. He started to unravel his tale with much enthusiasm right there in the fruit and vegetable aisle, so I invited his to come have a beer with us since it was that time of the day for apero.

Oswald told Ju and I his story, which was sad. He spent 10 years in Canada, as a strspping lad of 24, unafraid of anything at all. He lived in Montreal whoch he loved, and in Toronto, for which he didn’t have such kind words. He had been in BC and in Alberts. But he fell in love. He had moved back from Canada to the mountains of Auronzo to be with her. But he lost his wife very young to illness, they never had children. He is now retired in Auronzo, back in the village where he was born. The way he tells it is as if he is trapped here, with no family but a sister who lives 6 months a year in Thailand… He was eager to tell us his tale and reflect upon the life he lived and the context of the changing economy, between Canada and Italy, his phrases filled with melancholy but also with a proud endurance for the cards life had dealt him.

I was so happy about that chance encounter, because those are the types of things you remember. The people, the stories, their curiosity, their love of their country. We can only try to see it through their eyes. If the crisi seems to be a recurring theme in many conversations, this busy little coffee shop on a sunday morning is no indication of it.


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