Today was another tough start as I visited the site where my uncle Pietro was tortured to death by the Nazis. I give a fairly detailed account in my book, Through Sacrifice: Freedom, but the videos include narration and a bit more detail. We were very fortunate that we ran into the person that lives in the neighboring farm and knows the castle intimately. She told us that the Duke of this Tyrolean region, the heir of the Duke that built the castle hundreds of years ago, bought the castle for a second home while he lives primarily in Vienna. We spoke at length and, after showing her the book, she went online and bought a copy! She had heard the Nazis used the castle but wanted the whole story. Luckily, she reads enough English to get by. I'm also going to send a copy for the Count. You know me and royalty are pretty tight! 😄
The picture below is me in front of the castle recording the videos.
It was an absolute honor to be at this location and give my respects to my uncle. My father never got over his grief. Not during the war, nor during the remainder of his life. December 10 always found him sitting alone, deep in thought, and staring blankly into space. We didn't have the diagnosis of PTSD back in the day, but my dad sure had it. The videos below are narrated and tell the story.
I was incredibly grateful to stand in the place where my father stood, and to get a better feel for his anguish that night. Just a little more sacrifice that led to his ultimate freedom.
From the castle we drove to what we thought would be a short hike up to a restaurant. We (I) must have gotten very confused and took the wrong trailhead, because we ended up hiking virtually straight up about 1,700 feet in elevation. Hands down, this was the hardest hike I had ever been on. Even worse than hiking the desert last summer with my son in 115 degree weather! It was hours of walking over rocks at inclinations of between 45 and 60 degrees.
We did find an awesome river rush and waterfall, and got faced down by a herd of really big cattle and one particular bull. No bull! They literally blocked our opportunity to cross the river and have a drink at a little hut on the other side, which we really needed because we were totally exhausted. They won and we left with nothing but some good photos and memories.
The falls and river were particularly nice.
Tomorrow we are off to Berchtesgaden, Hitler's mountain headquarters and getaway. Then it's a few days of vacation throughout Austria and a dip into Slovenia. We'll be returning to Trentino in about ten days for a few days to stay at our family's hotel my grandparents built. It's also where my father was born and the early chapters of the book. Stay blessed, y'all.