Yosemite is the Val di Mello of America

From Malè we headed another 120 kilometers west. Incredible progress, I know. Northern Italy is just too incredible. We ate at a superb restuarant run by the same family who ran our first night’s hostel (a massive, clean, gorgeous hostel to ourselves) and proceeded to spend the next week bouldering and hiking. Faciliated by the ease of hitch hiking in Northern Italy.

It’s been 6 years since I climbed on Granite. It’s still, by far, the best rock for my style. Subtle weight shifts. An abundance of heel and toe hooks. No clear holds. Infinite beta possibilities. And apparently, despite getting extraordinarily fat in Italy, I can still climb rocks alright. Yay. Two gorgeous problems out of thousands that I must return to: Il Sogno di Tarzan and Aria Giovanni. Neither difficult, but absolutely gorgeous. Lot’s of bunny problems for Brenty, too. I’m not being mean. These problems were marked with a bunny in the guide book. Yay. We camped at the beginning of a stunning valley reminiscent of Yosemite, minus the tourists and the summer heat. Waking up to trails of mist coiling around the bald granite faces which screamed “Climb me!” and hiking up to marvelous views.

There’s all of one restaurant in the entire town of San Martino. It became a bit hilarious for both of us as we finished our days to ask each other “What would you like to eat at The Restaurant?” Courtesy of Cesare’s friend Mario’s friend Diego (who climbed OMG hard), we connected with THE bouldering God of Val di Mello: Simone Pedeferri. We borrowed his crashpads and guidebook. At the back of the book there is a table of the most difficult problems with the grades and first ascender. The list was almost all Simone, with an occasional Chris Sharma, or Daniel Wood. Wat. Yet so humble, so friendly, so enthusiastic. No ego at all and I didn’t feel inadequate about my very mediocre climbing ability. Inspired, instead. For some moments, I considered adopting a similar lifestyle – raising a family in the midst of a climbing paradise, running a cafe for sustenance and doing art on the side. I need to find my SO, first, though, I suppose. And I’d like more than one restaurant.

Simone’s wife Monica (for which their bar is named – where we watched Italy defeat England) loves the violin. I promised to play for her, and on our last day (after some bouldering, of course), I played through some of my repertoire for her, her children, and her mother. They’d never heard or seen a violin live before. Somewhat mindblowing to me, being Italians, but I suppose when you live in a small town all your life, that could happen. Still. They were absolutely enchanted. Amazed by the sheer volume of the thing (I always warn people it’s fortissimo… Oh how much music has helped in learning Italian, by the way) and they never believe me (it’s such a small box!). Asked me to play a Chinese song, then a classical song (Bach), then something Italian. I only remember the beginning of the Vitali Chaconne, so I played that and improved from there, figuring it wouldn’t matter to them. It didn’t.

When we finally needed to leave (auto stop!), both Simone and Monica wished we could stay longer, saying they could listen to me for hours more. I wish I could bring them to hear a truly good violinist.

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