Hailstorms and Hitchhiking in Italy

Study Abroad

While doing the Glories of France Program in Montpellier (Summer 2015), a friend and I went to Italy for a week. We were visiting a little town called Bellagio near Lake Como in the Alps, when we got caught in a freak hailstorm in July!


At this point, we were walking along this narrow road with no intersections, no shelters, nothing but us and the occasional car. We’d been swimming in the lake so we were dressed for the beach, trying to frantically make our way back to the ferry station to take a ferry to a bigger town (Varenna) and then take a train back to our Airbnb in Milan. Meanwhile, we were being pelted with giant pieces of ice, flooding halfway up to our knees, leaves and branches flying everywhere, and desperately protecting our phones from dying in the water. With nowhere to hide from the elements, we just kept plodding along, hoping to not die, signaling to all the passing cars hoping for a ride. But they all just kept passing us by.


Just as we were giving up hope, a car pulled over and the couple inside motioned for us to get in. While a little scared about serial killers and kidnappers, we got in because we didn’t really have a choice. This couple motioned to their towels, etc. so we could dry ourselves and tried to understand where we wanted to go. This was especially difficult because they spoke no English and we spoke no Italian and their translating app kept translating the phrase “ferry station” to “dragon party.”


Eventually, they gleaned that our final destination was Milan and turns out they were driving there too! They had no reason to tell us this, two soaking wet strangers who were getting mud and water all over their nice car. They could have gotten rid of us at the ferry station, or at most the train station in Varenna. Instead, they drove us right to our doorstep, two hours away in Milan. Good thing they did too, because it turns out the ferries had stopped running due to the rain, so we would’ve been stranded in Bellagio overnight, literally in the middle of nowhere!

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