Visiting Fanna was like going home.
After ten days of traveling, and the last four in the mountains, it was awfully nice to find a comfortable place to settle in for a couple of days, wash our clothes, do a little grocery shopping, and reorganize our luggage to put away the hiking gear we no longer needed.
Fanna’s Al Giardino hotel welcomed us with its resident heron, a friendly cat named Bilba, and a garden full of singing frogs and swishing fish. It almost made me homesick for our own menagerie.
Fanna also felt a bit like home because it was the one place in Italy that was familiar to us. Nearly twenty years ago, on our first trip to Europe together, M and I went to Fanna and Maniago (right next door). Although I didn’t remember much of Fanna from that first trip aside from visiting M’s great aunt in the most peaceful nursing home I’d ever seen, I’d never forget the main piazza and the Albergo Leon D’Oro, where we’d stayed.
In a more literal sense, though, Fanna felt like home because it’s the town where M’s paternal ancestors are from.
On this visit, we were lucky enough to spend the afternoon with M’s cousin and his wife, Albert and Toni. Albert and Toni began our tour at the stunning nearby hill town of Poffabro.
After a stop for coffee in Frisanco, they graciously toured us through Fanna and its cemetery (where many Mions and Maddalenas are buried).
At the end of the afternoon, before returning us to our hotel, they took us to their Fanna home and served us beers and juice on the patio beside their abundant, fruit-tree studded garden. We talked about family, shared stories, laughed, and even argued a bit (good-naturedly). Just like family.
Later that evening, the three of us, alone again, went out to dinner in Maniago. We talked about the day, ate too much (we never did get the hang of ordering the right number of dishes at an Italian restaurant), drank some delicious wine, and listened as the rain began to pour down on the roof tiles above us. Somewhere along the way, something got into us and we had a giggle fit in the restaurant. Everything felt carefree, funny, silly, simple.
We ate, drank, and laughed. Then we ran like mad through the pouring rain in a city that wasn’t home, but somehow was.