Terror di Trente

After a week cut off from the outside world, I was more than ready to leave Catania for somewhere new.  Whilst HIG was out at work, I packed my bag & hopped on the bus for Linguaglossa, a small town with views of Mount Etna.  I had made arrangements to stay on a vineyard there & help pick grapes.  The website made it look quite perfect.  I think, after years of watching those TV shows, where Brits move abroad & set up somewhere in the Tuscan hills, attempting to become wine makers, I kind of had a romantic view of what was to come.  Sadly, the reality was far from enchanting.

I arrived in the town center (after panicking about where to get off for far longer than needed) & proceeded to wait for my collection.  Five minutes went by, then another five & then I started to question as to whether anyone was coming at all.  I finally relented & called the host.  She told me to go get a coffee & she'd be there in five.  Ten minutes went by before she eventually came.

When we arrived, I was given the guided tour of the house & gardens.  The property was quite modern, with a great kitchen & bathroom & their living room/diner was incredible.  A large room with a high ceiling, every wall covered in art & antique furniture in every crevice.  The garden was beautiful, with an outdoor swimming pool down at the bottom.  There were even outdoor showers, made from huge stones, sitting in a graveled base.  I was starting to think I'd landed on my feet!  That was until I realised that the pool was an Eco pool.  Or otherwise known as a pond, complete with fish & frogs.  Did I fancy a swim?  Ummm, I think I'll pass this time, thank you.

On the first evening, the other volunteer, a Finnish woman, & the hosts'  Romanian worker, went out for pizza & so I was left alone with my hosts.  I had already sensed that this was not a match made in heaven & soon this was to be confirmed when the following conversation unfurled:

{sat in the kitchen waiting for one of the hosts to arrive with dinner}

Host One: "So, what did you do before WWOOFing?"
Me: "Oh, I was backpacking around before."
Host One:  "No, what did you do before?"
Me: "Oh, you mean before coming traveling?"
Host One: "You're evading the question & that's pissing me off!"

I swear, that is how that conversation, on my first day no less, went down.  As you can imagine, I was taken aback & quite in the mood to slap her round the chops.  But alas, I just answered the bloody question.

Unfortunately, the following day, on my first day of work, there were no grapes to be picked.  Apparently, after making sure that I had got to them by a particular date, so as not to miss the grape picking, it turned out, they weren't even going to pick them for another week.  And so, I was asked to shovel gravel from one spot, to another & sieve the stones in-between.  I was about ready to slit my wrists all of an hour in.

When my wheelbarrow, loaded with gravel fell over at one point, spilling the stones all over the grass, Host Two, just stood & looked at me & did absolutely nothing.  It was a really hot day & the sweat was pouring off me, my back was in so much pain from sieving the gravel & I just about wanted to cry.

Things were just not looking great.  These guys weren't about to give me the Sicilian experience.  Nor were they about to teach me the processes of wine making.  In fact, the only thing they seemed interested in, was using me as cheap labour.

Thankfully, a few days into my living nightmare, two Brits turned up & hoorah for the English & their sense of comaraderie.  The three of us huddled together & found friendship in our mutual dislike of our captures.  Every evening we would run off into town & plot our escape over a beer.  Then shuffle back to our prison in time for dinner & proceed to drink ourselves happy.  The one & only plus point to this place, was the constant flow of wine on offer.  I can honestly say, I was inebriated every night for two weeks.

Although, after a while, I think this became our downfall.  At first, our hatred of these two people & their treatment of us, riled us & made us plot escape plans nightly.  But soon, it became apparent that we weren't actually putting any of these plans into action.  Had it happened?  Had we developed Stockholm Syndrome?  No!  Not me, anyway.  Especially as I was consistently singled out for Host One's tirade of abuse.

I am a resilient person & I can take a lot, but I do equally have a short fuse & a fearsome temper, as mère can testify.  It took every ounce of my strength to bite my tongue throughout this entire experience, whilst getting extrememeley riled up on many an occasion.  Although, it's odd how, when someone verbally attacks you completely out of the blue, with something completely ridiculous, you just clam up, unable to respond.  How can anyone be expected to defend themselves against someone who is clearly being irrational.  Which really just annoyed me further, my inability to articulately defend myself verbally.

After two weeks of abuse, daily meals made up of three day old, re-heated pasta, too much red wine, far too many beers & at least some new friends in town, we'd had enough.  We faced our captures & told them we were leaving.  On our last evening, they took us out for pizza & karaoke & I almost began to like them…almost…Then I remembered how I'd been treated over the previous two weeks & I stopped even trying.

I could have really regretted those two weeks, but in the end, I really appreciated them, because, amongst the bullshit, I found two new friends, that I really liked spending time with.  So, in the end, it really was just meant to be.


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