Sigmund Freud

When Freud used to go on holiday in Alpe Cimbra

Freud used to consider the holiday time as a sacred moment. He was likely to refuse expensive psychological session requests from his patients in order to go on holiday. He loved the mountains, hiking and travelling as a way for discovering new points of views. He thought that being in contact with nature it is indispensable for the human existence.
Trentino was the region that Freud explored deeply and he stayed longer. Within the places he visited, Lavarone used to be his favorite one. Here, he came back three times during his holidays (unicum) and where he wrote some important books like the “Gradiva”.

The “first time” Freud arrived in Alpe Cimbra, it was for a reconnaissance short stay. It was the end of summer 1900, when he published The Interpretation of Dreams.

Since Minna (the sister in law) wanted to experience the happiness arising from an alpine holiday break, we reached Lavarone (1200 mt.), the highland above Valsugana Valley. The breathtaking splendor of this area meant everything to us. Here we found the best conifer forests and an unexpected pleasant solitude”.

It is not by chance that he chose this area but thanks to the recommendations from a family friend poet. Freud, amazed by the beauty of the location, came back three times. Lavarone became his holiday home in 1906, 1907 and 1923. The Freud’s was a big family: two parents, six children, Freud’s sister in law, Minna, and his brother Alexander. They travelled with two hired carriages along the steep and windy mountain roads. Two horses pulled the professor’s carriage, with his wife and the little kids, and 4 horses pulled the other carriage with the rest of the family and the many luggage. The holidays used to be very long at that time.. their staying used to last a couple of months. Therefore, they had to bring everything that might have needed.

Lavarone was the first holiday for the Freud’s family. It was the first time that they got away from Wien for a such a long period. It was also the first time that an Austrian family decided to go on holiday to Lavarone.
They stayed in a new hotel, Hotel Du Lac built in 1903, located on the shores of the Lavarone lake. Room 15, on the 1st floor, was reserved to Mr. Freud. The wide window allowed Freud to admire the splendor of the lake.

Martin, Freud’s son said: “We used to be the only ones to swim in the lake, a part from some Austrian soldiers. There were two oar boats with which we went fishing, but we liked most to swim. There was a good angle from which we jumped into the water and some bushes on the shores allowed us to hide in while we were getting changed. The bushes weren’t enough though for the most sober guests, and that is why we decided to build a cabin for them with small poles and sheets. Although our determined willingness to offer them the best, the cabin used to break down often, especially when guests were using it. The odds increased when a female guest was getting changed”.

Freud liked to swim with the family every day. He used to be an excellent swimmer. Breaststroke was his favorite style that he practiced keeping always his beard out of the water in order to not damaging it. The summer were hot and swimming in the fresh waters of the lake enabled them to lay down on the grassy shores of the lake. He didn’t like to fish much and he loved to walk. Freud never got tired… he walked fast. From the room N 15, the professor accessed directly the park of the hotel along a boardwalk at the back. From here he could disappear into the forests and wandered along the many routes.

The day used to start with an energizing walk of about 3-4 hours in the “gorgeous woods” of Lavarone together with his family. Freud used to always wore the traditional costume of Tyrol: shorts with big suspenders and a green hut with aside a lock made of mountain goat’s beard, a stick with an iron tip and in case of rain a hairy alpine cloak.

He had a good nose for mushrooms, his passion. The damp forests of Lavarone represented the perfect environment for them. When it was time to search for them, he used to get away from the family group and walked alone under the low trees braches. When he found them, he covered them with the hut and he whistled to the family members in order to show them the tasty loot.
Not only mushrooms, but Freud looked for wild strawberries, blue berries and aimed at discovering rare wild flowers that he loved to “identify as a hobby”.

Lavarone and its lake meant for the Freud family friendship especially with the family of the “knight” from Padua, who used to own a small footwear factory and most of all a Fiat Cabriolet, one of the first model on the market. Lavarone represented for the Professor the place where to undertake new and singular experiences like: the first time on board of a car, the spectacular trial on a military hot-air balloon over the lake, the dinner together with the Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the Du Lac hotel.

Notwithstanding the pleasant distractions, Freud didn’t neglect reading, studying and writing. Here in Lavarone, he welcomed his students, among who the future Nobel Prize MR Robert Barany, coming all the way from Wien in order to see and discuss with the Professor. In this “precious and old refuge” Freud wrote the “Gradiva”, when walking along the trails around the lake or meditating in the Hotel Park, “in the open air, moving from one stone desk to another”.

The strong bound between Freud and Lavarone and the lake has often been underlined by the Municipality of Lavarone, the tourist board Alpe Cimbra of Folgaria, Lavarone and Lusèrn and the Italian Psychoanalyses Society (Società Psicoanalitica Italiana) in several ways: by placing a plate in his honor under the room n. 15 at the Du Lac Hotel as suggested by Cesare Muratti, by building the walk around the lake called “Gradiva” in 1991, by summoning experts for the convention on the psychoanalyses every year, and in these recent years organizing didactic visits to the “Freud places”.

Last, thanks to a collaboration with the Province of Trento, the creation of the “Freud Path”, an open track for families and disabled people with a downhill slope of maximum 8% easing the access to the lake and connecting with the “Gradiva” walk. Along the track, many laburnum will be planted, as they are the traditional tree of Lavarone beloved by Freud.

29.06-01.07.2018 in Lavarone there will be the congress about Psychoanalysis