Taking the fun out of funicolare

"Excusi," said a man as he and his girlfriend stopped me on the street. "Le scale sono chiusi . Dov'è la funicolare?" He looked at me waiting for my reply. 

'Ummm... ok, scale is stairs, chiusi is closed, dove is where, and I know where the funicolare is! Ummm.... now if only I knew how to give directions in Italian,' I thought to myself as he continued to stare at me, patiently waiting.

"Sorry, I don't speak Italian, but I know where the funicolare is," I smiled as I finished my sentence and hoped he understood. He laughed and said, "Oh, that's ok I know English!" 

"Ah! Perfect. It's close to here. Go through the tunnel, take a left at the round about and continue on the left side of the street," I chuckled as I finished my directions with, "You can't miss it."

The irony in all of this is, three weeks ago if he would have asked me I probably would have started crying out of frustration. Essentially, the funicolare station was my own personal Narnia. I couldn't find the darn thing, and I had tried, for two hours. 

Three weeks earlier, Carlo dropped me off at the entrance of Citta Alta, and I made my way to my first class meeting. The university I attend is gorgeous, tucked away in a part of town that is undeniably Italian.  Sabine, my host mom, told me that movies are often filmed there because of how well preserved the architecture is. Old villas, piazzas and a church are just a few things that draw in tourists daily. The walk up to Citta Alta is gorgeous, but steep. So many people who are visiting don't want to take the bus take the furnicolare, a little tram running up and down the side of the hill and provides a stunning view of the city of Bergamo. 

After leaving class, I  had a few hours to kill so I looked around Citta Alta, grabbed a cappuccino and scoured a map for the infamous funicolare. I set out to find the station, and two hours later, I found myself frustrated and walking down the hill instead of riding down it. After asking 4 different people and getting 4 different sets of directions I was no closer to getting to the elusive station than the poorly illustrated map had gotten me. Sabine did her best to help me over messaging, but eventually my short fuse got the best of me and I just started walking. 

'This is stupid. There is no funicolare. I can't live in Italy. Why did I think that I could do this? I don't speak Italian.' These questions and quips of anger flooded my mind as I descended the main road back to Bianca and Emilio's school. 

Fast forward two days to the second day of classes. I parked the car, took a deep breath, and told myself that today was the day that I'd find the station and life would be good. I made my way through the tunnel, took a left and prepared myself to walk up the entire stretch of road, only to find myself right in front of the furnicolare station at the base of the hilll. 

"You've got to be kidding me," I said aloud. I paid the 2.60, got on the funicolare and worry free, made it to class with time to spare. 

There's a quote by C.S. Lewis that goes, "It's funny, how day by day nothing changes. But, then you look back and everything is different." Three weeks ago I couldn't understand directions people were giving me, now I'm understanding Italian better and giving people directions. Three weeks ago I couldn't find my way around Bergamo, now I'm finding my way through bigger cities like Milan. It's amazing how much things change. There are so many times that we tell ourselves that we can't do something because it's too different, too scary or maybe even out of sheer stubbornness we refuse to change. But,, with a little courage and an open mind, it's amazing how much we are capable of if we take the time to learn and experience new things. 

Fino alla prossima volta,


Brooke Johnston2 Comments