Aosta – Night Excursion

Four single beds in a small hotel room in northwest Italy. Two twins and a bunk, four boys sprawled on the sheets, third or fourth glass of red wine in hand. We’ve driven hundreds of kilometers, eaten cheese, eaten beef jerky, eaten bananas. We drove into the Alps while the fiery sun merged with the mountains ahead of us and we collectively creamed our jeans. We’re tired.

“You wanna go out tonight?” Dirty asks.

Aosta is a small town, really just a pit stop squeezed between mountains on the path to French resort towns and alpine hiking trails. It’s not the kind of place where one “goes out” but then again, this is Europe. They’ve got to have a different definition of the term.

We go out. Begrudgingly, at first. We’re tired. Most of us have been awake for more than 24 hours, excluding uncomfortable airplane naps. The drive was long, the day was long. But we’re in Europe and we’ll be damned if we don’t make a go of it.

The main street of Aosta is a thin cobblestone walking path, lined on both sides by rough, claustrophobic four-story apartments. It’s dark and late, but there are still wandering locals, arm in arm, perhaps lovers. We pass restaurants, bars, all closing for the night. A Roman wall divides the town, still impressively massive. Ominously lit from below, it looks like it might crush us – not due to it’s crumbling exterior but purely because we are insignificant bugs in the shadow of history.

Then we find a bar. It was right around the corner, actually, from out hotel. A snooker joint, the doorway lit in pink. There’s a foosball table inside and not much else. We order beers in English because we’re not really ready to try Italian. Foosball is good, but we hear noise, laughing from a back room.

We finish our drinks and wander towards a black doorway from which emerge gentle pinging sounds. A casino, tiny, ten slot machines arrayed along mirrored walls. Three or four smoking, anguished Italians rest on stools they might have been born on. This isn’t what we were looking for. The sounds we heard, they were sounds of joy.

Another black door on the other side of the bar. Laughter and music reverberate behind the plain wood paneling. This is it! Gently, we push the door open. An orgy? A wake? A raucous, out of control euro-party?

Karaoke. Drunk, smoky, Italian karaoke. Everyone looks at us as if a herd of cattle entered the room, then looks back at the screen, back at their cigarettes. We found the party on a Friday night in Aosta, Italy. It’s a rager.

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