Does that make you any happier, Alan?
The day started with a late, leisurely breakfast. I think we may have overdone it a little, as the provisions we later bought for lunch are still languishing in my rucksack, despite the considerable motivation to lighten my load.
The number 96 bus delivered us to the centre of Verona, where we wandered from place to place for some time in search of the highly recommended Natural History Museum and its fossilised crocodiles and palm trees.
We were misled three times as to the location of the museum, which may or may not have been open, so after a grand tour of everything but the museum, we gave up. We had a pressing engagement with the E5 walking route.
Next time we'll get off the bus at the station and plan our moves from there. The NH Museum is only a few metres off the number 97 bus route to Avesa. Buses are every 30 minutes so we could easily have broken our journey to the start of the walk if we hadn't lost so much time wandering around looking for the place.
We made it to Avesa by 1pm and paused outside a bar next to the E5 start/finish line to down some cold drinks in the shade.
Stage 29 of Gillian's version of the E5 route is a short one, so it didn't worry us to be starting at 1.30. We soon found ourselves on cracked parched earth in the deep, narrow canyon of the Borago valley, trying fruitlessly to spot prehistoric-looking salamanders. It wasn't a good day for natural history - I may have glimpsed one, but it was more likely a frog.
It was, thankfully, cooler in the canyon. Just 30C. But we had to keep moving. Mozzies.
After some considerable time on a very rough path with an intermittent stream the canyon came to an end at a 30 metre head wall, down which there is no doubt a fine waterfall during less settled weather. Luckily some stairs, complete with banisters, provided an escape route into the upper section of the canyon (Sue is pictured here), where the sometimes vertiginous path took us eventually up to the small village of Montecchio, home of Franco and Helene Cuoghi, who whilst unable to accommodate us due to a family reunion had insisted on us calling by en route to Casetta Volpare, where they had kindly arranged tonight's B+B for us.
I understand that Franco was director/administrator of the E5 route from 1978 until his retirement in 2010. He is 'Mr E5'.
It was a privilege to meet him.
Water and wine were produced, and together with guests Willi and Renata we demolished a couple of bottles of Franco's "no need for the water" Rosato Garda 2012. Franco and Helene are pictured above on the left during the hour and a half we spent with them discussing the E5 and other Alpine routes. They seemed to think more English than Germans are walking E5 these days, but this wasn't borne out by their E5 visitors book, which showed about 50 people passing through last year, mostly on short sections. We duly signed the book - about the tenth to do so this year, a little below Adam Mills and Jane Heath, with whom we had been in touch before the walk. They are currently five days ahead of us, but will gain on us if they keep to their tighter schedule.
We shouldered our pack/bumbag and staggered off when F and H announced that they must change for a visit to the opera. They said it was 2km to Casetta Volpare ('small foxy house'), but within 15 minutes we were being greeted by foxy haired Monica and her troupe of dogs, and were shown to our luxury apartment in her not so little house.
A quick turnaround saw us strolling back along the well signposted alternative E5 (by-passing the equally well waymarked canyon and its ladders) to Montecchio's popular Trattoria for an alfresco meal in the relative 'cool' of a fine evening some 500 metres above the plains where the opera goers will have been sweating it out in Verona.
8km in 2.75 hours with 500m ascent
Plus 5km around Verona and 3km to and fro from Casetta Volpare
Other walkers - none
Flower of the Day - Herb Robert (in the canyon together with lots of Herb Bennet, Greater Celandine, and more)
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