Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monte Lugo to Filetto May 24

                                                          Current day                        Trip to date

Distance walked- miles.                          13.5                                  138.3             

Gross climb- feet.                                    850                                 10,235

Net climb- feet.                                        -80                                     2488

Song of the day: Saturday in the Park by Chicago:

People talking, people laughing
A man selling ice cream
Singing Italian songs
Can you dig it? Yes, I can
And I've been waiting such a long time
For Saturday

Today's journey was originally planned to be a somewhat strenuous, but achievable 18 mile hike.  However, due to a couple of small calculation errors by the trip planner, the actual distance was almost 23 miles, with a significant downhill section of  2000 feet. When faced with this reality, we huddled for about 12 seconds and decided to take a taxi for a portion of the day.  

At 9 am this morning, the taxi showed up, and took us about 10 miles down the mountain.  This reduced the day's hike to a much more manageable 13 miles, as well as cutting a significant portion of the downhill hike.

In addition to reducing the length of the trip, the taxi provided another significant value. The taxi driver was a very entertaining and valuable source of information.  He talked a lot about emigration patterns from Italy.  For example, in the early 1900's, most of the emigrants were poor people, with many of the people going particularly to the USA.  However today, most of the emigrants are educated people.  They are not able to  get jobs commensurate with their education levels, and thus leave Italy looking for employment opportunities.  He talked about his brother in law who got his PhD from Boston college and went on to teach in the USA and England.  He could not get a job in Italy. 

The driver also talked about the homecomings that happen every summer in the little towns in the area.  For example, a couple little towns which have about 5 people living there during the year,  grows to 150 people in the summer with returning emigrants.  One of the towns speaks all English, as the returning emigrants are from the USA and England. Man other speaks French, as the returning emigrants are from France.

If I were President of the USA for a day, one of the first things I would do is offer every foreigner who graduates from a USA college a green card that would say something like: " thank you for graduating from college in the USA.  We would like you to stay and work here."  I would also increase investments in our own education efforts.  It sure seems to me that the competitive advantage of a country will depend totally on the cumulative work ethic, intelligence and creativity of the people of that nation.  

Note: this paragraph was bought and paid for by Independent Candidate Mike Fawkes who is running for no office, but cares deeply about these things!

Last night, the owner of our hotel made reservations for us at a small restaurant close by.  Once again, we had an outstanding meal, with many excellent dishes..  I had wild boar (which I have often been accused of being...) for the first time in my life.  Sitting next to us was a German couple, Axel and Martine.  They are school teachers at an international school up near Lake Como, and were touring the area on their motorcycles during a school holiday.  Like every German we have met over the past few years, they were interesting and fun people to be around.  Axel was a funny and profane guy.  I complimented him on his ability to swear very naturally in English!  My own experience is that while many foreigners are proficient in English, few can actually swear like a local in English.  He sounded like a truck driver from New York!

It is common in many of the nicer restaurants in Italy to bring a bottle of liquor to the table at the conclusion of the meal. The idea is to have a small drink "on the house."  Well, we and the Germans had more than a small drink, and nearly drained the bottle!  We had a rousing good time, and stayed for nearly 3 hours at the restaurant. Although the owner seemed to enjoy us all, I'm sure he was glad to see us go by the end of the night.

The weather today was letter perfect for a walk:  low 60's, slight breeze, mostly sunny but with a few clouds.  We came upon Pontremoli, a town of about 7000 people.  Similar to what we experiened in Spain, it was Saturday market day.  Fantastic, everybody out having a good time.

We found a cafe in this town that had Internet, and caught up on our email and I posted my blog for the past few days. Our hotels the past two nights have not had Internet nor does our hotel tonight.  Unfortunately, somehow I deleted the posting from May 21, and may need to recreate it if I can't figure out how to retrieve it.  

We then continued on a very pleasant 13+ mile hike with a few climbs and descents, but not of heart attack level!  The trail was very wet and muddy in places, due to spring rains and runoff.  

As with the past few days, we also had to ford several streams along the way:

We are staying in a beautiful little B&B in the medieval village of Fillleto. Our room is spectacular, with one problem: we are right across from the church, with the bells going off every half hour.  The owner told us they continue throughout the night.  She even offered us ear plugs at check in! Here is the view of the bell tower from our room:

The always resplendent Linda as we leave our hotel for dinner:

I also took a photo of the mountain range where we went over the peak yesterday:

Tomorrow, we have another hike of about 13 miles to the town of Aulla.  From there, we will catch a train to La Spezia, the gateway to the Cinque Terre.  We will visit La Spezia tomorrow, then on Monday morning, take a boat to Vernanza, one of the 5 towns in the Cinque Terre. We will spend a couple of days there hiking around, before returning to the trail late Tuesday afternoon.  

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