Monday, July 16, 2018

I solo traveled to Italy for 3 weeks and here is what happened

Monday, July 16, 2018

In April I decided I wanted to go an an adventure with my bike. I've been cycling now for about 2 years now and ever since I bought that bike it has been a dream of mine to take it all around the world with me and see all these wonderfull places while doing what I love the most: cycling. I started thinking about easy and cheap places to go, because my budget as a not working student isn't that big. I stumbled upon Lisbon, it's a place I'd never been before, the weather is great and I found some stunning hostels. So that was it, I decided I would go to Lisbon for 3 weeks with my bike. I still kept it to myself so I could first figure everything out and then bombard my parents with the news. I didn't tell anyone what I was planning but I was getting so excited to go to a new country all by myself and do something I'd never done before. I have solo traveled before, but taking a bike is something else (now writing this while my holiday is over, I can definitely confirm that). I just couldn't wait for the summer to start.

But than May rolled around and some sudden news was thrown on my path. For those who know me, know I have this little obsession with a book and movie called Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman ever since it was released about a year ago. I read the book, I read it again, and again, I think I've read it 6 times at this point. While I was reading that book over and over again, the movie was released, and let me tell you, something changed in me after seeing that movie. I've never been more in awe of something than this. Let's not get into how many times I've watched this move, it's irrelevant. But I'll tell you I've seen it so many times you are allowed to call me a "crazy fan" if that makes you happy ... I won't argue with that. 

One day I opened my twitter and saw this thing called Crema Film Festival. I was intrigued and interested. I saw people from all over the world planning trips to Crema to be at the festival and to got to the places there favorite movie was shot. I still didn't really get what it was all about but something in me also wanted to be at this event, and something in my knew it was kind of possible. I planned this whole trip to Lisbon, I could easily change it and make my destination Crema, Italy. I have always loved Italy with my whole heart and was pretty sure they also have roads so I  could cycle.

That's where I made a 360, scratched all my old plans and started planning this trip to Crema and a festival that was still very vague to me. Over the weeks it became clear that the festival would be one week long, starting June 25th and ending July 1st. They would screen movies every night, there would be music, special guests, ... At this point I really wanted to go. June 30th became "the CMBYN day", first they'd screen the movie outside at the duomo, where parts of the movie were shot and then we'd have an 80's party at the same spot where they filmed the iconic Armie Hammer dancing scene. I found out other girls would go and this made the decision so much easier, I knew I wouldn't be all alone watching a movie and dancing. I booked my flight and hostel. So that was it. I was going to Crema, a small village close to Lake Garda, to experience my favorite movie and to go cycle. 

The festival was only a week, I decided I didn't want to go through all the struggle of bringing a giant bike for a week, I decided to stay here for 3 weeks. Most of the time being all by myself. I can be alone, so I trusted this decision, but still it was a little exciting. 

So let me explain my trip and how it all went down in little old Italy.

Arriving in Milan June 28th I had to take a 3 hour train to get to Crema, and change trains twice. No big deal you'd think. Think again, a bike box is fucking heavy!! I dragged that box from platform to platform with my no muscle arms and a backpack filled with clothes for three weeks... Something of me died on that journey. I wasn't looking cute. But I made it and I am proud of myself. 

The first day's I explored the town I tried not to look like a tourist but failed miserably with my big camera taking 100 pictures of every little thing. Even though I looked like a tourist I immediately felt at home here. It was so strange. I don't know if it was because I didn't stay in a hostel and had my own apartment that made me feel like this or because everybody was so welcoming and friendly the minute I arrived. Also nobody speaks English, so it never felt like being on one of those holidays where this town is filled with tourist and every local is already adjusted and you just can't understand how people actually live here cause it's one tourist attraction. Tourism is new here and I liked it. That's definitely something I want to remember for my next trip, try to avoid the big tourist spots. It's nice to live among the people where you're on holiday. 

The tourist in me did go see all the cmbyn movie spots ... and maybe I cried a little at the trainstation where they say there goodbyes. It was a lot ok, stop judging me. Some people might think it' s weird you go to a place where a movie was shot and it touches you this much. But than I remembered that people go to Universal Studios, to the Friends set, go see the Harry Potter sets, ... that's just the same. This is just in real villages in Italy and not a studio. Even if you don't love this movie, I'd recommend coming to this area. These places were out of this world beautiful! I can't even begin to describe it. Without this movie I'd have never seen the places that I've now. I would've never heard of them and that is a real shame. I am thankful for that. 
If someone reads this this and wants to come here, this is the list of places I visited

June 30th rolled around, I had almost seen everything cmbyn related on my own. Tonight so many other fans from all over the world would join me to watch the movie at the Duomo and go dance afterwards, it just sounded insane. I have loved this movie for so long now but could never really share it with anybody in real life cause nobody gave a crap about it. Finally I could freak out about it and nobody would want me to stop. I met up with these amazing girls to go eat at La Speranza, this delicious Pizzeria. We talked so much we almost missed the film and had to run to the Duomo. After the movie, we all walked to the open air disco (with a cut out Armie because that's the only way how). The atmosphere in this place when we walked in was unreal. Everybody was dressed in 80's clothes, dancing like crazy, lady lady lady was booming through the boxes, and I just couldn't believe my eyes, this felt like a dream. I couldn't stop smiling. We all danced till the end, I was so exhausted drunk and fulfilled. When it was over I felt so many mixed emotions. I feel so lucky I could experience this. I know so many wanted to experience this but couldn't and I wish with my whole heart one day they'll have the chance to come here.

July started, half a week done, two more to go. Film festival was over, I had seen most of Crema. It was time to explore everything around this village. Time to start cycling. I really wanted to push myself this trip, get into better shape, get my average speed up and just become better. I think I've accomplished all of those. Cycling in a different country is so special. Every time I was looking around a voice in my head was: "shit girl, you did this all by yourself, and now you're cycling through this amazing landscape for hours everyday". I learned quickly that bike roads in Italy aren't bike friendly at all, but just a bunch of pebbles that gave me an anxiety attack every time I had to go on it cause it would make my tires explode. So after day three we stuck to the big roads which weren't that big and most of the time very distant from buzzy traffic. Cars are vey careful with cyclists, something I never expected, I thought all Italians drove like crazy, but maybe that's just Rome. 

On a Monday were I wasn't feeiling like working out I decided to go to Begamo. This is a bigger, more touristy city closer to the mountains. It would take me 1.30 hours by train. I didn't have much time so decided to go straight to the old part of the city. Coming from a small quiet village like Crema into this big hustle was a shock. It is a beautiful city, but it's not the Italy I love and adore. I did dance at the Duomo and that's all I needed to feel accomplished at this trip. I can scratch that of my bucket list. 

I ate pasta and peaches fro three weeks, because let's not forget I am still broke and we have to watch our budget. I only ate two ice-creams which shock me as much as it shocks you. 

The trip has been special to me for so many reasons. Seeing the cmbyn locations was very special. But this trip was so much more. I learned how to take care of things all by myself. And I know as a 21 year old you should be able to things on your own, and be an adult. But that's easier said than done. I am not the most confident person, I get scared having to ask strangers for help, I get very anxious trying to figure out where I have to go, I still have this irrational fear of being kidnapped inside me that is often holding me back to go on the streets when I am not feeling save. I easily put myself down for not being practical or smart enough to get things organized, I can get very insecure in my own head. And still I survived three weeks being with my own thoughts and actually really, really enjoyed it.

This place is special and I will always remember how I lived here for three amazing weeks. And how I heared opera singing coming out of Luca guadagnino's house, that was an experience.

If it wasn't for the festival I probably wouldn't have come here, or only maybe later in life. I am so grateful for everything I've learned this trip and everybody I've met, you all have a special place in my heart. I will never forget this. And maybe see you again next year.



  1. Ahhhh amazing, it sounds like an amazing experience and kudos for you for being so brave to do it all alone! I’m 25 and I’m not sure I am able to do the same thing (even tho I want to so so much). Loved reading it ❤️

    1. Oh thank you for enjoying it! Yes it was amazing. Maybe one day you'll find the courage to try it, it can be scary to think about it the first time :)


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