I Got Lost in Italy and Found Myself Having the Best Day Ever

I Got Lost in Italy and Found Myself Having the Best Day Ever

When in Italy, it’s easy for a bad day to quickly transform to be the next greatest adventure.

I was backpacking through Europe with plenty in my pack but not very much planned.

Sure, I knew which landmarks I wanted to visit, which foods I wanted to try and which cities I wanted to wander around, but the specifics, I was leaving up to chance. I had finished a stint through Spain where all my travels were smooth and easy. I rolled up to every city with no planned accommodation and was easily able to find a place to stay each night. When I arrived in Italy, I expected the same sort of ease and was met with something completely different.

Also read: 15 Experiences Every Traveller Should Have in Europe

Unknown to me at the time, I was arriving on the weekend of Italy’s independence celebration, meaning prime travel time for both locals and tourists. Fresh off the train in Rome, pack on my back, I started to wander around looking for a place to stay.

After about two hours of being turned down by every affordable hotel and hostel in Rome, I decided that my best chance would be to catch a train to a less popular city. I took myself and my aching back to the train station and caught a train to Florence by random decision.

I felt good about Florence; I barely knew anything about the city at the time and figured that it couldn’t be that crowded. Wrong, again. I trudged down the streets, up the hills, weighed down by my pack and facing more and more no vacancies. I was able to “steal” the Wi-Fi password from one of the hostels that turned me down and used it to book a hotel from my smartphone while hiding in their hallway.

I was so relieved to have a place to stay and followed my map to the address on my phone. When I arrived, not only did the staff not speak any English, but they were still using a paper book for their reservations. I tried my best to signal to the computer on the desk to explain I had just booked online, but when the clerk finally turned it on, the monitor was completely upside down, clearly showing that online bookings were not often used by the hotel.

Feeling defeated, the manager called a friend who spoke some English and also owned a hotel.

Also read: 15 Little Towns in Italy Too Stunning to be Real

I waited for this mystery friend to show up and bring me somewhere to rest my head. Eventually, a very short, husky and stern man showed up, asking me to follow him. Pocket knife in hand, and not feeling good about the situation, I followed him down some alleys to an unmarked “hotel”.

He brought me inside and all of the rooms in the corridor were marked by numbers written on post it notes. As he opened the door to the room where I would stay, he started to remove his own personal belongings from it as if he had been staying there all night himself. When he left the room to get something, I ran for it down the steps, out of the hotel and down the nearest street I could find.

At this point, I made peace with the fact that I wouldn’t find a hotel for the night. I decided to go to the bar, drink as many beers as I could and sleep in the train station until the next day. I did however, pop into one more hostel just to check. I walked in on the staff toasting with champagne for the manager’s birthday. I explained my situation and they told me that the hostel was booked for the night.

My thoughts of sleeping in the train station were interrupted when they told me that the hostel manager also owned a campground above the city and that they had some vacancies that evening. I was relieved until I realized that the bus to get up there had stop running. “No worries,” they told me. The manager is here and he will drive you.

As I got in his car, he handed me a glass of champagne, chatted with me about his favorite films and drove me up to the gorgeous campsite to stay in one of the bungalows for the evening. He invited me to party with him and the rest of the staff in the campground’s club, but after a day of walking, struggling and defeat, I declined.

I instead collapsed in my bed, exhausted but happy that I had made it.

Also read: 15 Free Things to Do in Italy

About Author

Shannon Ullman

Shannon is an American girl working towards a full-time nomadic lifestyle. She doesn’t like the idea of a 9-5 career and wants to blaze her own trail by travelling and working around the globe. She has a long way to go on her journey but is having the time of her life on the way. She left her country to live in China and has been moving around Asia for the past year and half. She is passionate about inspiring others to live their dreams, facing her fears, learning new things and visiting cat cafes as often as she can.


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