TWO VISITS TO ITALY; WWII & RECENT
As I sat there at my desk wondering where my day had gone to I realized that it had been split in two. The morning was consumed by my thoughts about family, home, and, my life after I ran away from those responsibilities. The afternoon was spent thinking about my hidden life in Italy. I wondered what had pulled me back to that period. It soon dawned on me that it was the new hire with her jet black hair, dark fiery eyes and those military styled suits that she seemed to prefer. She had been with the firm for about a month. During that time I noticed that every business suit had epaulettes on the shoulders. She could have been a dominatrix for all I knew about her.
She must have brought back memories about my military time in Italy during the Second World War. Most of that time was spent in Trento. This village was at the edge of the Dolomites; a section of northeastern Italy belabored by geological wonders. The Dolomites were tall formations of stone that had been rendered by wind, rain and flood. Rock climbers loved the Dolomites because of their vertical sides. Of course there were few rock climbers during the Second World War. However; that was not true on my second trip to Italy.
It was twenty years later that I took that second trip. I was forty years old and much wiser by then. The second trip was made, purposely, via a clandestine route. Icelandic Air was the choice for the first leg of my trip; JFK Airport to Luxembourg, Belgium. I purchased a Eurorail Pass for my travels around Europe. The pass allowed me to travel anywhere in Europe by railroad. Best of all, the pass had no destination associated with it. That way I could move around without being traced. That is exactly what I did; Belgium to Spain to Germany to France, crisscrossing my own path several times over several months.
I suppose I had chosen the Dolomites early in my wanderings. I had thought about that area but would not allow myself to make the final decision. I stopped using my Eurorail Pass and took advantage of the many bus routes through Italy. My decision had been made regarding my final destination. It was, once again, Trento. I knew the area and therefore understood the value of its remoteness. My plan had been well thought out.
In Trento I found an outdoor gear shop. There were several such shops in the village that serviced the rock climbers. I bought a substantial back-pack, a camouflaged pattern tent, a subzero sleeping bag and all the other gear I would need. I visited a hardware store to purchase some wire for snares. Once I was sure that I had everything required I took a short bus trip to the remote hamlet of Tiona.
My mood was jubilant as I hiked a foot path from Tiona into the wilderness. The scenery was beautiful; tall mountains and small streams in the valleys between them.
After two days of hiking I shunned any semblance of a trail in order to seek a remote campsite. It had to be well hidden if no one was to see me or the wood fires that I would need to survive. I found an ideal spot next to a cliff. A large rock slab had broken away and formed a natural lean-to with the cliff. I was able to seal off one end by building a stone wall with small flat rocks. The other end was semi-sealed. I had left enough room for a doorway. Local evergreens furnished me with the materials to weave a door and a bed.
I had established myself well in the mountains. An occasional hare would grace my snare traps and then my table. A small fire kept me alive throughout the winter. I was a lucky man to be able to elude my seekers for so long. I tried not to dwell on thoughts of my mother, my wife and my son.