Two Weeks In Italy

A Brief Broneymoon


After a long drive, we arrived at Bassetto hostel late at night to find a room full of people and at least as many bottles emptied of wine.

It was the kind of place where everyone had a story. Something they were running away from, trying to hold on to, or trying to find.

As we talked to the others, we got to know their stories. It was like an episode of Lost, except the characters were real and the stories were well written.

We all shared travel experiences. One of the girls, Kristin, spoke about a beautiful B&B in a different part of Italy where she’d stayed with a welcoming family. The father, Enrico, was a great guy. His girlfriend had studied astrophysics, and recently spent a day meticulously placing hundreds of tiny fluorescent stickers on the bedroom ceilings in the places where the stars would be. Staying there was magical, like sleeping outdoors.

The others’ stories were even more interesting. A newly qualified doctor with an endless collection of completely implausible anecdotes. A super social ex-heroin addict. A guy who got divorced, sold his house and all his possessions, and was travelling until his money ran out. These were the people we’d be spending the next few days with, at Bassetto hostel.


Bassetto is a regal complex reminiscent of a castle, enveloped by huge grounds. The kind of place where, when it gets dark, you go ghost hunting. After it was built in the 13th century, it was inhabited by monks for hundreds of years, the cellars producing vast quantities of wine. Increased competition and the introduction of an official wine classification in the mid 1900s put an end to Bassetto’s wine business, and it fell into disuse.

After a short stint as a tobacco farm, the upper floors were converted into a guesthouse. The cellars remained empty. Mostly.


Midnight exploration of the underground caverns yielded some bottles of wine which were hundreds of years old.

As we went deeper into the cellars, the air got thicker and the room around our torch got darker. We pulled aside a curtain and entered a narrow tunnel. Suddenly someone was running.

“Did you feel that? This isn’t right. We have to leave!”

We ran through the tunnel, past the curtain, and into the open air. After we caught our breaths and recovered in the hammocks outside, we went up to the guesthouse and tried to get some sleep.


We left Bassetto, but it never really left us. We had gelato in Orvieto, rented a boat in Amalfi, explored ruins in Pompei, hiked up a mountain in Abruzzo, got sick on seafood in Rimini, and added another country to our list by having lunch in San Marino.


A few weeks and a thousand miles later we arrived in Modena for what were to be the last two nights of our trip. On our second day there we had lunch with the owner of the B&B and his family.

As we were eating, the owner’s girlfriend, the mother of one of the children, asked us if we’d noticed anything strange in our room the night before.

“No…”

“Nothing? ”

“…”

“What about after you turned out the light?”

“Erm. No? Wait… What did you say you studied?”

“Astrophysics.”

Thanks for a great few days, Enrico and Antonella.

Sleep under the stars: Selvatica 50 B&B, Nonantola.

Sleep, if you can: Fattoria Bassetto

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