Disclaimer: I was pretty crap at taking photos that day. Sorry. I decided to just grab a few photos of Gotthard Pass from the internet to give you a better idea of where we were. All photos are credited when the photographer is known. Let us begin:
In Luzern, the traffic starts early and wakes me up. The others are still snoozing so I decide to go for a walk and get us some breakfast.
I pick up some sandwiches and coffee and bring it back to the accommodation. Tali and Wolf are happy to be woken up with a hot brew. We welcome the light rain the morning brings, it’s the cool change we’ve been hoping for.
We tuck into our breakfast and slowly get back on the road. We know the Brexit vote happened yesterday and we are eager to learn the result. Since we have no internet, we try to look out for some newspaper headlines. However, we are unlucky. In our rush to get out of town and back onto the road again, we can’t find a newspaper or a kiosk.
We figure we’ll find out the results when we get to Turin, Italy, our next stop. In order to get there, we have two options, one is to climb over the alps through the famous Gotthard Pass, once used as a trade route between Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Italy. The other option is to take the much faster and more modern Gotthard tunnel, built in the 1980s. We know it will take longer to travel over the mountains, but we have time, and for us, given a choice between driving through picturesque mountains or being stuck in a tunnel for almost an hour, the answer is obvious.
We decide to take the pass through the mountains. Once we’ve made the call, there’s no going back. As soon as we turn the corner, we hit roadwork. The sun is back out again now and we’re starting to get hot and bothered. Wolf is driving today, and he comes from a really really flat place and he quickly realises he’s underestimated the difficulty level of driving through the mountains.
Tali is nailing the right hand side of the road thing by now and also comes from some of the most mountainous countryside in the world so we just stop the car mid ascent and they swap places. Tali takes on the task of getting us over the pass. Once the roadwork clears, we are able to cruise around the corners and hug the sides of the mountains with ease. These are some of the most sought after views in the world and we can see why, every corner we turn literally takes our breath away. There are tiny houses perched high up on the mountainsides, they probably took their places there centuries ago. We think the waterfalls that run down past them are formed by the melting snow caps, or maybe by magical fairies that live in the clouds.
It looks a lot like New Zealand to me, we all get a sense of de ja vu recalling our tour earlier this year on the other side of the world. Wolf is of course an encyclopaedia of knowledge, and he tells Tali and I that the mountains in the two countries are about the same age, so it makes sense that they look similar. We’re not sure if that’s true, but it sounds good, and we feel like we are literally on top of the world, content now with our decision to drive over the mountains. Once we reach the other side, Tali and Wolf swap again.
I’ve been nicknamed ‘Navi’ by now, and I take my official place in the front passenger seat of the car, navigating for whoever is driving. By now it’s ridiculously hot, none of us brought any sunscreen and through the craziness have either forgotten or not found the time to buy any. So far we’ve only been heading south, and the sun seems to have been permanently placed exactly outside my window for the entire trip. My arms and neck have now turned a brownish red colour, they look like the Australian outback. As we approach the outskirts of Turin, the sun seems to grow larger in the sky.
We’re not sure how many degrees it is now, but it’s somewhere between ‘hot as fuck’ and ‘sweaty as hell’. By the time we reach Turin we are seriously trying really hard to keep our shit together.
We’re staying with the sister of a good friend of ours, Matteo, who organised the gig for us. He grew up in Turin but has since found a second home in our creative ‘Mecca’, Berlin. We haven’t met his sister before, nonetheless she’s kindly offered to take all three of us in for the night. She meets us with a smile that looks uncannily like Matteo’s.
We climb the stairs and then stand panting in her foyer for a while, we are starving with hunger and in true Italian style she lays out a meal for us. Prosciutto, cheese, bread, then pasta with tomato sauce made by her grandmother. We devour the food with gusto.
We suddenly remember the Brexit thing, we ask Francesca if she knows the results. ‘Oh was it today? I didn’t check…’she pulls out her phone and starts to read the headlines. ‘Yep… They’re out… The leavers won… David Cameron is announcing his resignation… the stock market is crashing… the pound has dropped in value…’
Twitter is already ablaze with the #whathavewedone hashtag… none of us can really believe it… We were hoping for a different result. We all connect to the wifi and for a while we are glued to our phones reading headlines, articles, posts, catching up on the events of the last 24 hours we have missed while sitting in our sweatbox we affectionately call Dusty.
We take turns with ice cold showers, and take a little nap before going to sound check. Francesca tells us there is a big festival in town tonight, it’s the 24th of June, the day Turin celebrates its patron saint, John the Baptist. She says there will be hundreds of people out on the streets, fireworks in the park, and that people come from other cities to celebrate. We are very happy to learn this, we’re hopeful that some of that large crowd will end up at our show.
When we arrive we do a quick check and then the owner of the bar offers us food. He asks one of his staff to translate as he speaks no English and we speak no Italian. In this way, we are told that we can have either pasta or salad. As we’re not long after finishing the delightful meal of pasta and bread and cheese at Francesca’s place, I say what about something a bit lighter, a salad.
I have no idea if I’m in the right region but I have an incredible craving for a tomato mozzarella salad with basil and balsamic vinegar. I’ve been imagining eating one since yesterday and I’m really hoping they can make it here. I later find out that this is called Insalata Caprese and is not from anywhere near here.
The request for salad seems to confuse them. They talk loudly and gesticulate amongst themselves for some time before again suggesting we have pasta.
Okay, no salad? What kind of salad do you have?
Okay sure… Pasta..
The Carbonara, it has asparagus.
Okay, Carbonara it is.
The pasta and the wine are glorious, the asparagus really sets the whole thing off. We have some time until the gig starts so we savour it and then take a little walk around the city. The Italians have really fed and watered us with style so far.
We hang about in the bar, when Francesca arrives later on we are all still passionately discussing the Brexit result, sharing posts and opinions. We are particularly saddened by news of the Google search results in the hours after the vote, with spikes throughout the UK in searches for ‘What is Brexit’, or even more alarmingly, ‘What is the EU’. As the only native EU citizen among us, Wolf is particularly upset by the result.
Francesca arrives and we move on to more abstract topics of philosophy and life stories, and she tells me a little about her childhood with Matteo. We are really happy she’s made it to the show, we all feel as though we have made a new friend in this old city.
The play time finally comes, it turns out the fireworks thing has hindered rather than helped us. Everyone is a few hundred metres away watching the fireworks and there are only a smattering of people in the venue.
We march on professionally as always, do the show, and have a lovely conversation with the owner of the bar, translated by Francesca. He apologises for the small audience and offers us another show on a busier night whenever we plan to come back.
I know zero Italian, so Francesca teaches me how to say good evening, Buonasera. On stage I decide to try to impress the Italians by greeting them in their language. ‘Buenos Aires’ I say. Tali is quick to correct me, we both laugh, I apologise, and carry on in English as I decide that will be less embarrassing.
When Tali gets on the stage, she somehow makes the same mistake, ‘Buenos Aires!’ She says. We collapse with laughter and carry on.
After the show, the sweet bartenders drag me behind a pillar for a cheeky shot of Grappa while the boss is outside. Feeling cosy and warm from the Italian hospitality, we make our way home.
We squeeze in the back of a taxi to get back to Francesca’s house. We tumble into bed and sleep like rocks, content in the knowledge that tomorrow’s drive is only short, so we get to sleep in. Little do we know…