A circuitous route to Glorenza took me over the Julier Pass at an elevation of 2248m. As I moved above the tree line, the landscape became stark, rugged, lunar and I recalled the transition from forest to desert on the way to Zadar two weeks before. But this time it became colder.
Glorenza (Glurns) is a charming and very well-preserved Medieval walled town, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. German-speaking and with Italy’s only whisky distillery, it has a poulation of less than 1,000.
On my first evening I found everything closed apart from a small bar. The owner spoke German and some Italian. My additional languages are Hungarian and French. We managed with sign language to establish that there were no restaurants open in the town and that she didn’t serve food. On seeing my disappointment, she found me a large plate of cheese, salami and bread, for which I was very grateful.
Walking back in almost complete darkness outside the town walls, I stopped to look at the sky. I identified a few constellations and then was overwhelmed by countless stars. I gazed in awe and realised that there is something in naming or categorising which limits our experience. The stars seemed to light my path back to the guesthouse, in which I was the only guest.
The next day, the friendly guesthouse owner prepared a full breakfast buffet just for me. I walked in the Venosta Valley, following the partially frozen Adige river and enjoyed the views of the mountains.
Although I have spent a large part of my career travelling alone, I had never experienced solitude to this extent. Without my usual attachments and distractions, I realised the extent of my projection on the world, which was total. I finally understood Richard Rohr’s statement – “you have met the enemy and the enemy is you” – and that it was possible fully to let go of the narrow competitiveness and fear which is so much part of our culture, because it was mine.
The first photograph below shows Glorenza with Monte di Glorenza in the background. The second has Florastrasse, named after the artist Paul Flora, who was a native of the town. The Third, the Church Gate tower which hosts an exhibition of his work.
My next destination is Zurich.