At RoarLoud we have a wish list of dream destinations. Our interview series shares travelers stories and our dream destinations that we haven’t made it to yet. I met Sara through mutual hiking friends but have yet to have the pleasure to hike with her, one day we will, though. We share a love of the mountains with Sara and her photos and inspiring adventures have added the wild mountains of the Alps to our wish list!
Get to know travel adventurer Sara
My hometown Genova is very long because it was built between the sea and the mountains. My love is also split between these two elements, but mountains always win, if I have to choose. I now live in Charlottesville, VA, which is a small town between Shenandoah NP and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’m a Mathematician and I work as an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia. More precisely I work on Geometry and Topology, mostly hyperbolic geometry. In my spare time, I love hiking, traveling, exploring new places, climbing, swimming in the oceans, scuba diving, cycling, skiing, anything outdoor mostly. I love crafting, music and art, and I feel very lucky to be in Charlottesville because it is very culturally active. I left Genova to do my Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Warwick in England. I lived in France (Toulouse and Paris) during my last year of the Ph.D. and when I started a postdoc. I then moved to Providence, where I was working at Brown University. I speak Italian, English, and French.
In my job I do research and I teach both at the undergraduate and graduate level. I love many aspects of my job: it is very challenging; it changes all the time, so you never get bored. I’m surrounded by a community of caring, smart, sensitive colleagues/friends. I travel a lot for work (e.g. just last month I was in India, Nepal, Atlanta and Chicago).
When I was living in Providence I met a wonderful group of people with who I hike a lot and had a lot of fun, among them my friend (and now love) Sam. I’m very lucky. I finished the NH48 and NE67 quite quickly because Sam and I love to do long traverses.
Where in the world is your favorite place and why?
My heart certainly belongs to the mountains at La Visaille in Val Veny, near the Mt Blanc. I used to go there with my family and other 15 families. For 2/3 weeks we were living in a very primitive house, where we had electricity less than one hour a day. The kids were all sleeping together in big rooms and the parents as well. Every day there was a group (consisting of 1 dad, 1 mum, and few kids) in charge of cooking, another group in charge of cleaning (mostly the shared restrooms), one group in charge of washing the dishes, etc Groups changed every day. We were hiking every other day and in the rest day, we used to go picking berries (and coming back with purple mouths 🙂 ) so that we could give everyone berries and whipping cream for dessert in the evening. If the weather was not good, we were going ice skating or we were playing cards.
It is the only place where I can write in a diary; it is the place where I have to go when I need to understand myself. If I think about mountains, that is what appears in my mind. There I learned the sense of community that I feel so strong inside. In these mountains I learned the perseverance to arrive at the summit; there I learned to respect the mountain. Probably I love these mountains so much because they remind me of my dad. He is the one who taught me to respect mountains. Still nowadays if I’m doing something a bit silly and not safe, I hear his voice in my ears. He taught me how to do a via ferrata or hike up a glacier when I was a kid. I have always been quite independent, strong minded and adventurous and I have always felt comfortable in the mountains. [Last time I was there, a man died and almost killed some people in my group as well. He was on the Petit Mt Blanc without ice ax and used a short cut on the hike because the bad weather was arriving. The hike is easy, but you need to respect mountains, always!]
I love skiing in the Dolomites (or climbing), but I love the Alps in Valle d’Aosta for hiking because they are much more wild. In the Dolomites, you have many huts. I love mountains where you can’t arrive with a car; where you need to leave at night to get on the top of the glacier….
Share a place you found from a local or a lesser known spot for your favorite place
Mmmm, maybe the BBQ spots a La Zerotta, or the roofs of the ping-pong house, where we were not supposed to go, but were I used to go all the time to find a bit of time alone (even if people sometimes do not believe me, I’m quite introvert and need some alone time) to be the smiley, funny, kind person that some people only see. I also love to hike in the Balconata, sleep under the stars and taking a long exposure picture where you see the stars moving in the sky.
What is your favourite travel photo and why?
Oh, that is hard… If I need to pick a picture of the Alps, I would choose this view of Val Veny. It is the view we had from the roof mentioned above; it is where I feel I’m home, safe, happy.
What have you learned from travel?
While mountains instead are my solutions to recharge batteries and feel happy with the world again [feeling that no matter what I’m going through, things happen for a reason and that I could not imagine what I will meet in my life path], I think the most important thing in travelling is meeting the local cultures. Traveling I learned that the reasons why we are scared of people different from us is because we do not know them. I learned that community is a strength, not a source of competition; that the only person I want to be in competition with is myself. I wish more and more people were willing to leave what they know and feel comfortable to start new adventures because that will make the world such a much better place to be in. People too often keep surviving day to day, forgetting to truly live, forgetting to be happy. I learned that there is so much more to explore (I have such a long list which keeps expanding instead of shortening). That no matter how far I’m, I know my family will always be there for me and they know I’ll be always there for them. That I can’t wait to explore more and more places in the world with the person I love and who makes me smile always.
Share some tips for travel- saving money, what to pack, etc…
Do your research before any adventure but please try to get lost sometimes. My best memories go back to people I met randomly, discussions that were not planned, surprising landscapes that my travel guide “forgot”, smiles in the eyes of people you meet: all things I experience because I always have a “getting lost” day.
Thank you, Sara, for sharing your amazing travels with us, if you have any questions or comments for Sara check out her Facebook. Subscribe to our newsletter to never miss travelers who RoarLoud!
Save this for trip planning- I know I will!