Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Gelato & Avventura: Sleepovers, UFOs, and Hitchhiking, Oh My!

One of the biggest lessons I have learned from my travels so far is this: Don’t joke about crazy things happening because they will probably happen. When we took a day trip to the ancient, Etruscan city of Bagnoregio, my friends and I joked about “what if” we had to stay overnight, “what if” we slept on the streets, and “what if” we had to hitchhike. By the end of the weekend, we had done all three — and much more.

It all started as an innocent day trip to Civita Di Bagnoregio — a hauntingly decaying town among the clouds.

It looked really, really cool. After getting very lost in translation, we managed to figure out the bus system and were on our way to the ancient town. As we walked up the bridge, we started toying with the idea of staying the night — mainly joking, of course. The idea became stronger when we realized the buses stopped running at 4:30 p.m., which didn’t give us enough time to see the entire town. Once we were there, we realized it was completely possible to see the town and still reach the bus, but we had already made up our minds to stay the night. To make sure we didn’t back out, we went to dinner at 4 p.m., so there was no chance of making it back in time. Instead, the four of us treated ourselves to some delicious, fresh pasta, wine, and even dessert.

After that, we watched the sunset and laid down on the sidewalk to look up at the stars — they were so clear, and we even thought we saw a UFO (later to find out it was the International Space Station — still so cool!) 

The cold was creeping in, and we were extremely unprepared, so we had a second dinner just as an excuse to sit in a warm restaurant for three hours. Everything started closing down and the last of the people began trickling out as the whopping eight residents (yes, eight) of the town tucked themselves in. So, there we were: cold, homeless, and without a clue of what to do.

We tried falling asleep against the main church, but it was too cold — desperation and animalistic instincts started to kick in. My friend Kelly, fed up and shivering, made a bold move and led us to the one window with a light on. We knocked and hoped for the best. A bewildered Italian woman peeked out, and after many hand gestures, we were able to get blankets, coats, and even kitchen mats from her before she led us to her front porch to stay the night. If it hadn’t been for her angry husband, she would’ve totally let us in.

The night was miserable, but we huddled together and made it to sunrise — a beautiful sight. Tired, cold, and hungry, we headed to the main town to catch a bus that would take us to the train station, where we would catch a train and finally make it back to Rome. After 15 minutes of waiting, we dared to ask a local where the bus was, only to find out that no buses run on Sundays. Or taxis. Or anything. Great.

As we started our 13-mile walk back to the nearest train station, we decided to try our luck at hitchhiking. It worked. A retired Italian man turned around and drove us to the station, accepting no money, and I was able to hold a conversation with him in Italian during the entire drive since I was the one sitting in the front seat. My friends said it was Spanish with an Italian accent but whatever.

Looking back at the experience from the cozy warmth of my bed, I would not change it for anything. It reminded me of the kindness of strangers and made me grow in many different ways. It upheld a quote that I had read before coming here: “The thrill of adventure is worth a thousand days of comfort and ease.”

Similar Reads👯‍♀️