Saying Goodbye To Italy

On the final night of my trip, I am ready to go home.  Italy has been an incredible adventure, blessed at every turn and occasion.  I have been to more cities than I planned, met many new friends and fantastic people, taken more photos than my computer will hold, tried foods I have never seen and seen farther than I ever have before.  I am truly humbled to have been this blessed, and to be blessed by what I am returning to.

As my last post while I am on my trip, I give you this last photo of an office I was happy to have.

There is a video I took which I will be adding to this page once I get back, as my last internet connection here is unstable at best.

Arrivederce, Italia.  Grazie.

Winter Has Come

Apparently all this rain is the signal of the beginning of winter here in Italy.  Temperatures are dropping rapidly across the country while it continues to storm here in La Spezia and Cinque Terre.  I tried to escape for a while during short patches of breaks in the rain, but it proved futile, bending and maiming my umbrella.

I finally made it back to my hotel holding the umbrella open with both hands to provide full cover despite its damaged arms.  I hope this rain ends soon, these rainy days are boring and making me wish of home.  However after checking the forecasts, it is supposed to rain tomorrow as well.  I will chance it if I can.



More Beautiful Graffiti

I continue to find graffiti that transcends the base use of tagging an area for a gang. I even found one out in Monterosso of Cinque Terre, shown here.

It still makes me jumpy to be in an area with so much graffiti, which is good. Even if I have been in no danger here in Italy, you do not want to become complacent and keep that attitude back home where the danger is much greater. Still, here are some of the more beautiful examples I was able to capture.


One Of The First Crazies

Who in the world was the first person crazy enough to look at that horizon, that endless blue barrier, and say “I am willing to risk my life and the lives of others to see if there’s something past that?” Standing here, where the water is large enough to not see the end of it, I can understand why people in ancient times thought the world was flat. It seems like such an insurmountable thing to sail into that great blue with not but a hope that you won’t die.

My question to you is, what is your great blue barrier? What is the one thing that you look at as something that cannot be crossed, cannot be changed, cannot be challenged?

And what if there’s something past it?

Are you crazy enough to risk your life to cross that barrier? Because if you are, your life will never be the same. Italy has been one of my big blue barriers. What’s yours?


Cinque Terre: Part 3 – The Unloved Cats

About halfway through the path between Monterosso and Vernazza there was a rest area with a picnic table. Bowls and plastic bins littered the area, which saddened me that people would litter in this beautiful and fragile area. On the table there was movement and in the shade of the trees I noticed a cat dozing.

Above it there was a sign that explained that the cats in the area were homeless and unloved, and to please use the bins of food nearby to feed the cats.

How can your heart not melt for them with a story like that?

There were plenty of bowls with food in them nearby, evidence that hikers had already passed by here recently, most likely ones that I had passed on the way here. I gave the cat an affectionate scratch behind the ears for a couple of minutes and then continued on my way.


Cinque Terre: Part 2 – The Hiking Paths

One thing I had hoped to explore were the beautiful and famous hiking trails of Cinque Terre. However I had been told when I arrived that they had been closed for two weeks because of landslides from bad storms. Still, I went to look and to my elation they had begun to reopen the paths!

However, I had a dilemma. My socks were still wet from my adventure into the sea. So one one hand I could be guaranteed to get blisters and have my feet rubbed raw and on the other I would have even worse with the wet socks. I chose to leave the socks off and hike the trail anyway.

Careful to pick my way through the path I began the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, one of the toughest hikes they have on the path that follows the coastline. This is the famous Via D’Amore, or Road of Love, and the beauty of it was incredible.

There are several areas where you can see right down to the sea, usually over a sheer cliff. There are many points where you are zigzagging back and forth up and down the hills to get further and further away from the sea to find a safe way to the next hill. Thankfully, there are many points where a rock has been painted to help you stay on the path.

It was almost like climbing through the Rockie Mountains in New Mexico back when I was in the Boy Scouts. I am glad I chose to do this last after I had tempered my feet and ankles with walking through the cities for the past three weeks. This would have been impossible a month ago. I can understand why they closed the paths, as there are some places where the hills tower over the paths on one side, threatening the path. There are also places where the path is barely wide enough for me, and I’m not that big.

I’m glad I’m healthy enough to have had this experience.


Cinque Terre: Part 1 – My First Dip In The Mediterranean

I accidentally found the beaches where you can swim in the Mediterranean Sea on my first trek out into Cinque Terre. I hadn’t brought my swimsuit, since I wasn’t going to go swimming while carrying all of my tech with me. There’s no places to check a bag either, so I’m going to have to make a special trip without it if I want to go swimming.

Still, I would not be denied at least a small taste of what is to come. I took off my socks and shoes and waded out into the waves.

The water was nice and cool. Lapping over my feet and up my calves, it was a welcome relief from the growing heat of the day. I picked my way carefully back up the stony beach and began to dry off my feet and remove all the stubborn pebbles that had glued themselves between my toes.

I should have been paying attention.

As I finished drying my first foot a larger wave than before crashed in front of me and reached the top of the mound I had been sitting on, soaking me again as I scrambled to keep my backpack and its precious cargo from the grasp of the sea. I succeeded, but at the cost of my socks becoming soaked.

Tying them to my backpack to dry, I dried my feet and put my shoes on my bare feet to continue exploring the town.