When I imagined Tuscany, I pictured gently rolling hills covered with vineyards and tall, narrow cypress trees. That may be true for southern Tuscany, but the north, where I spent a week hiking with thirteen other women (eleven Brits, one German, and one Canadian) is hillier and more forested. I’m glad I wasn’t the only North American bumping into language differences. I learned to refer to my vest as a gilet (“g-lay”), half nine means 9:30, not 8:30 as in German, elevensies is break time, and route is always pronounced “root”.
We went on five “8-mile” hikes in the Garfagnara Valley. The first several were through forests, vineyards, villages, and fields with an occasional vista. The last two involved 750-meter (almost 2,500’) assents, first to the highest point in Tuscany, Monte Prado in the Appennines Mountains, and then to Monte Sumbra in the Marble Mountains (Alpi Apuane). During the steepest parts, in beautiful Beachwood forests, conversation ceased and all I could hear was my breath and the rustle of dry leaves beneath our feet. There were hints of fall color, but most of the trees were still green. When we popped out of the forest, the views were wonderful.
One day we got back early enough to enjoy the swimming pool, but usually there was just time to shower before rejoining the group for drinks before dinner, most often Prosecco or Aperol Spritz. With all this exercise, I’d hope to be losing weight, but given all the bread, pasta, and liquid calories consumed, I’ll be lucky to stay even. Our fourth day was free. Most of the women took the train into Lucca; a few of us stayed behind and enjoyed a relaxing day doing very little.
It took two days to get home, thanks to my desire to use mileage points for my flight and misreading the train schedule before I booked it. After getting dropped off in Tuscany, I had lunch with a fellow hiker and then took the train to Geneva (three trains, almost eight hours) where I spent the night. In the morning train service was disrupted due to “an accident involving a person” so I shared a cab to the airport with another stranded passenger. I transferred at the Dullas airport, with a four-hour layover, and got home late Monday. Zelda, Timbre, and Abby (my dog and cats) greeted me at the door. I’ll only be home for a week, and then I’m off again, this time traveling domestically.