Observations from an Eataliano
Butchering the language
Eating up life
Helping others find their Italy!



Take a hike

Italians walk a lot. Tourists often return commenting on how much they walked while in Italy. This quantity of time on foot may be new for those who constantly dream of scoring that first parking space closest to their destination. Italians walk a lot in everyday life. If you want to go a step further – take a hike! 

I’d like to share a little about my first group hike in Italy. One of my Italian friends, who doesn’t speak a word of English, invited me. With a mixture of hand-signals and words we somehow established an 8am meeting at the edge of town. We’d be climbing a mountain visible about 40 or 50km away.

That morning I wore sporty hiking shorts and a high-tech short-sleeve shirt. Everyone else was in long pants and long-sleeve shirts. It was the middle of summer, sunny and really warm. One of the Italians, under his breath, whispered, “tourist”.  It wasn’t mean spirited, but I wasn’t sure how to take it. Italians speak their mind, and you needn’t be defensive, nor offended. It’s just their opinion. I asked for clarification. He stated that locals wear appropriate clothing because there are a lot of prickly plants that will rip your skin to shreds. Thus, long sleeves and pants are worn for protection. I wish someone had mentioned this earlier…  

We loaded into 2 cars, drove 10 minutes and 21 switchbacks to the base of the valley. We stopped in at the bar (coffee shop) to wait for the rest of the group. Normally, you order, drink your drink, (always an espresso for me), eat a little sweet, then pay at the counter. When I went to settle up with the barista, I was told that my bill was taken care of. There were probably 15 of us, all looking around but, no one fessed up. THANK YOU to whom ever it was.

We drove, maybe 20 minutes, to the next valley. We had a pleasant morning hike. Lots of stops to point out plants, distant villages, and other points of interest. We summitted several peaks and enjoyed beautiful 360-degree views. The sea to the west, rugged mountains to the north, rolling hills of Tuscany to the south, and the mountains around our little hamlet to the east. Fortunately, those prickly bushes had been trimmed back! Possibly the CAI, (Club Alpino Italiano – a national hiking club), but it could’ve been anyone. 

One of the most interesting spots was just above the sea – probably 400meters elevation. There was a marker showing an arrival spot for hot-air balloons. Years ago, a restaurant (where we would be stopping for lunch) was having trouble attracting customers to their remote location. They had to make it easier for people to get to their establishment. They added a valet service like no other. Diners were brought up the coast by boat. A hot-air balloon ascent delivered them to the top of the rocky cliffs. Finally, a horse-drawn carriage ride the last five kilometers to the restaurant. Boats, Balloons, and Buggies! We had none of those luxuries of mass transit, so we continued on foot to the restaurant.

When hiking, I’m used to a squished PBJ. Not in Italy! We were to have a full Italian feast. A starter of meats, cheeses and olives, a primi of pasta, a secondi of meat and vegetables. There was plenty of wine and bottled water to rehydrate us. A little dolci and a local liqueur (to help the digestion) finished our meal. We were there for close to two hours. This was not the hiking meal I was used to!

Finally, we got up and started putting on our packs. We walked all of 100 meters to a little park when the others started dropping their packs. I was told me we must relax after our meal. 45 minutes seemed to be the correct time for this recovery period, and again we were off. We returned on the path we’d taken without the extra side-trips. There was much spirited discussion. Not everyone was in agreement with how the country was being run. In this crowd, there was no requirement to be politically correct. Just speak your mind.


Eatalianos hike, so they may enjoy time and a sumptuous meal with friends.

6 thoughts on “Take a hike”

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