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Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
Trip End Sep 19, 2007

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Flag of Italy  ,
Thursday, September 13, 2007

It was strange to wake up in a foreign country on 9-11.
I took the train to Monterosso in the Cinque Terra area.  It is a beautiful area with the Sea crashing in.
I walked the trail from there to Vernazza.  It is the most difficult of the trails that connect the 5 cities.  My pedometer said 5+ miles.  I'm not really sure because it seemed like 100.  The trail was constructed centuries ago using stones set along the hillside.  There are some areas where the width of the trail is no more than a foot.  The real challenge is the climb.  For those in Cincinnati, imagine walking the steps to the church in Mt Adams for at least an hour.  The trail reaches a height of 180 meters above the Sea. (not sure how high that is).  It took me 2 hours with about 6 stops to cool off and get my breath.  I was in great shape as compared to a lot of those younger.
I have never experienced the degree of exertion that I did today.  After 10 minutes I was totally soaked with perspiration.  Thanks to Under Armour for wonderful products.  Within 20-25 minutes of sitting and walking in the shade I was totally dry.
Again, I met a bunch of people along the way.  Couples from SC, Philly, LA (the wife grew up in Park Hills, KY) and Columbus (his parents live in Mason).
The reward of the walk is rounding the trail and getting the first view of Vernazza.  Wait to you see that when I post the pictures after I get back.
I then took the train to Corneglia (Cornelia) where you have to climb 365 steps to get to the town.  No where anything like the earlier trek.
I ate at an outdoor restaurant and sat between a German couple and an Italian couple.  Nothing much was said until we all finished eating.  They spoke a little English.  Of course I was no help.
The Italian couple were from Framura  which is 4 train stops from Sestri L.  The man is a pharmacist and said that I should see his town as it is the prettiest town in the Cinque Terra area.  If I would come, he would show me around.  He told me to take the train and then the taxi or bus to his farmacia.
He also told me that there was a young woman in the town who wanted to work in America.  She moved to Atlanta and worked, fell in love and married.  Her husband in Ted Turner, Jr.
On 9-12, still recovering from my exhaustive walk, I decided to take him up on his offer so I took the train to Framura.
I got off the train after the 15 minute ride to discover there was no taxi to be found and the bus would not be coming for an hour and 10 minutes.  SO I decided to walk.  First, there is a switchback set of stairs then the road to the village of Setta.  The distance to the farmacia is one meter and it rises 100 meters above the station.  Again totally soaked by the time I got there.  There was a sign on the door that he would be back in a minute.
When he walked from his home across the road it was as though he had seen a long lost friend.
He closed the store and drove me to a great place way way up to take some shots.  Then we went back to the store so that he could take care of a customer.
He has lived in the little town for 30 years.  He came from Bolonga.  Married a local woman and they have 32 daughters.  He wife is a math professor at the University of Genoa.
A very old retired doctor came to the store and he watched the place while I was driven to the see the 1000 year old church and bell tower.
We came back to the store and stayed for about 10 minutes.  My new friend, Giian (John) Vittorio Bartolucci, gave me a bottle of his house brand of body wash and the Dr gave me a train ticket to return to Sestri.  He Dr wished me a "pleasant journey".
Giian closed the store (businesses close from 12:30 - 3:30), drove me to the train station and said goodbye.
It was such a wonderful experience.
I realized after today that I have the Dorothy gene.  Some will know what that means.
By the way, all of the dogs here are very nice.  They come with their people to the restaurants and stores.
Tomorrow is a travel day to the lake country.
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