Hi Mauro! What made you get involved with Couchsurfing?
I never liked so much to travel with friends – too touristic – and I’m more interested in knowing cultures and people than visiting places, so I easily get bored moving around taking pictures. When I discovered that there were crazy people willing to host and be hosted by strangers I thought I had to be one of these crazy people.
We are a little crazy, aren’t we! What was your first CS experience?
My first experience happened in Summer, when an American opera singer – Stephanie – wrote me because (she thought) Roma was close to my village (more than 3 hours by train… close?!) and she was curious to see my family’s little vineyards. It was memorable to see her singing barefoot in the middle of the vineyard, and wandering through the beaches and the little villages of my region in motorbike. I love my village and my region, and even if in these last years Marche is getting a bit more touristic, we don’t often see foreigners in this area. I’ve always felt some kind of ambassador, writing to people asking for help/info and hosting, also because it’s not easy to enjoy the beauties of my land without a local guide and a car, so when I discovered the Couchsurfing Ambassador program I decided to apply.
Your area sounds gorgeous. What is one of your most memorable hosting experience?
It’s hard to choose. I could answer the first one, but it would be unfair. I hosted some really great globetrotters, and these have been probably the most unforgettable: the Puerto Rican girl traveling alone around the world (1000 days…) with her ukulele, the Hong Kong guy arrived in winter after months of travels in Europe with a small and cheap scooter which was literally in pieces, the Ukrainian hitchhiker who moved along all the Italian coast and a half Europe always and only doing hitchhiking, with a backpack and a guitar.
They all sound truly memorable and unique! What about as a surfer?
Also this one is hard… I could say the one in Riga with Reinis and his girlfriend. The first night I couldn’t call him when I returned very late due to some problems with my phone, and I almost had to sleep outside; the following day we went together in countryside and he let me drive his old, 70 year old, soviet truck in the woods, unforgettable.
What is one book that has inspired your travels?
One of the first books about travels I read was “The lord of the rings”, I was a teenager and for sure it inspired me: when it’s better to go in group and when alone, how important is the equipment, the fact that along the path you could face problems and you will loose people, but also that you will meet great people and friends you still don’t know.
Great trilogy! I’ve heard incredible things about New Zealand, where the films were filmed, too. What is a quote that inspires you?
Every trip is lived three times: when we dream it, when we live it, and when it
Wow, that’s beautiful. I’ve never heard that quote before. What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you while traveling?
I’ve never traveled in wild places and unluckily for me I’m a bit too organized to have faced big problems while in travel, probably because I don’t exit enough from my comfort zone. Once while in San Francisco, in winter, I rented a car and I started to drive north. My plan was to go to Las Vegas passing through the desert instead of on the highway as most people, but being winter almost all the passes to Nevada were closed, so I found myself moving too north with a car never driven before, without winter tires and without chains swearing until, in a empty motel, a guy told me where I had to go. I arrived in Las Vegas at my host’s house quite late, after driving like a crazy person. I don’t know how long and how fast I was in the empty desert. I was so tired that when I got out of the car I forgot to use the hand brake and had to jump on the moving car just in time to stop it.
As soon as you said you were heading to Las Vegas from SF heading north, I thought, ‘this is going to be good!’ What is a delicacy from your area that everyone should try?
I love to eat everything, but if I should name one thing about my area I can say only “Vincisgrassi“, it’s a kind of lasagna so rich and tasty, very traditional in my region.
I just looked up a photo and it looks delicious. What is one thing everyone must do in your city?
My “city” – San Marcello – is a 2000 people village, and every traveler should absolutely see the bar, because it’s a 65 years old historical place which never changed and it has been owned always by the same family. It’s hard to meet there someone not from my village, and it’s a very, very Italian place. And my friend Alessandro, the bartender, can prepare you one of the best cappuccini in the world for 1.20€
Last question, what is your advice to new Couchsurfers?
If possible try to spend time with people different from you, don’t look for people you are sure you will get a long because you could be disappointed and you won’t learn anything.