Sojourning through Italy // Anthony Carro September 01 2016

Anthony will be hosting a special giveaway of Passport Size Traveler's Notebook. Check out his Facebook page for more details:)

I stood in a motionless town square. Mountain mist, typical in the early morning twisted through the lush green hillside and the weathered stone walls of northern Italy’s lower Alps. I was in the medieval town of Arco, situated in a deep valley named Sarca. Seated beside the flowing river that feeds Italy’s largest (and perhaps most beautiful) lake, Lago di Garda, this small town seems to be in the epicenter of the region’s massive beauty. The mighty stone mountains surround my starting point. I allowed Google Maps to lead the way. Walked along a narrow road, I passed brightly painted villas and crumbling farmhouses all the way to a single stone archway that seemed to mark my entrance. The painted sign read “Castello Arco” and I knew I was headed in the right direction.

I spoke quietly to myself, "I’m finally here”. I was excited to begin a unique hike to the top of a precipice where the ruins of a medieval castle quietly sit, patiently rotting into the future. I thought about how I was ready to see this for myself, to decide whether or not this experience would be a good fit for the small group of travelers I was preparing to take on my “Northern Italy Journey”.

Two hikers moved quickly past me, shaking me out of my daydream. Their packs filled to the zippers with who knows what. I followed them, beginning my ascent up the first 20 or so steep stone steps and was instantly delighted by the fact that I packed light. I’ve learned (over time and error) that the best travelers seem to carry nothing. They apparently survive with the clothes on their backs a snack and some water, which is ok in most parts of Italy as fresh mountain water flows to piazzas adorned with fountains for public use. I can only imagine that shedding the unnecessary is a skill learned over time.

Water bottle, GoPro, Canon with L-Series wide angle lens, and my newly broken in Midori Travelers Notebook (Passport Size). This was all I had and as it turns out, it's all I needed.

Making my way further up the trail I stopped at moments, opening my soft camel colored Travelers Notebook to take notes of the course I was traveling. I soon walked through an old gate, entering the castle’s property. Turning right I continued, twisting my way towards the sky, the vast stone compound sitting like a monument at the peak. Quickly pulling the small Travelers Notebook from my back pocket, I noted highlights along the way, including the cave like jail cells and water cisterns which I quietly entered and thoroughly explored.

My excitement built as I neared the summit. I attacked the final steps leading to the top. I was tempted to turn around and drink in the view I knew awaited but decided to remain focused on reaching my goal. The steps grew even more uneven now, their size varied and I almost lost balance. Then, passing through another stone archway I reached the top of the sheer cliff the castle rested on for so many centuries. I turned slowly and allowed the colorful shades of the turquoise lake, rolling green mountains, white mist and orange villas below to flow into my view.

From this vantage point, I could see the wide expanse of the Sarca Valley to the north, the great fjord of Lago di Garda to the south and the cloud-hidden heights of the Monte Baldo range to the South East.

I rested, sketching the wondrous valley, trying to imagine a time when after the last ice age this very same lush green valley, so full of modern life, was submerged in the same alpine waters of the lake. The convenient size of my Midori Passport Travelers Notebook was an impromptu canvas.

I added a few more important notes about this hike to my journey itinerary. As I started my descent, I felt grateful having experienced such timeless beauty. Along the downhill trail, I gently tucked a few wildflowers between the pages of my notebook, to bring my daughters when I arrive back home.


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Anthony Carro
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