Suitably refuelled we set off at 9.15 into the morning heat, retracing our steps to Montecchio for the last time. Franco was busy watering his vegetables as we passed, so we stopped to say hello. This became a feature of the day.
Rising to enjoy hazy but expansive views down to Verona and across to Lake Garda, we soon came across Tuglio, an elderly guy enjoying a Sunday stroll along E5 and the good network of public footpaths that grace this area. Stopping to chat with him was a good excuse to pause for a drink on the shady path, as today's temperatures of 30-35C in the shade made frequent drinks stops desirable, if not essential, and time pressures will be very much the exception on this trip - there were certainly none today nor will there be in the foreseeable future.
The path rose steadily, a feature of the day, in rising temperatures, another feature of the day, as we passed a small castle with lots of mewing peacocks.
The E5 route hereabouts is well waymarked with the traditional red and white Alpine markings, so the 1:50000 strip map that we have is very much just a comfort blanket and an indicator of which way to turn when the markings are obscure or unclear. However, some signs indicate that the route continues to reach the Adriatic, which was once the plan. But nowadays most folk seem content for the walk to finish (or in our case start) in Avesa.
Nestled into the hillside are numerous small communities within commuting distance of Verona. These people were out and about, as was a smattering of walkers and bikers. Our next encounter was with road bikers Lucia and Bruno, on a round from Verona, who stopped to chat in what should have been a quiet lane. It wasn't. So we accosted a man on a moped whose brother is a priest in London.
"There's a good mountain bike trail that starts from up there" he explained, before phutting off.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away, topped up our water from a nearby 'fountain' (spring water tap), and headed along a mixture of quiet tarmac lanes and stony paths towards our lunch stop at Ponte di Veja. The route featured a new town, not on our (newly purchased) map, by Ristorante Da Lara, and marble quarries of the Lessini hills lying cheek by jowl with the wealthy suburbs of Verona.
After a slight navigational mishap when we missed a sign and inadvertently transcribed a fifteen minute circle, we finally arrived at Ponte di Veja, where the large car park betrayed the presence of a huge natural arch (pictured above) to which people flock from far and wide. We lunched at a picnic bench outside the busy café, before visiting the arch and exploring its caves - used by bears in the past, then by man, now by a colony of bats.
After an hour's break for lunch, we immediately left the crowds as we spent the afternoon heading almost 600 metres in a vertical direction towards the large village of Erbezzo. The path was steep and sweaty. In the hamlet of Portello we said hello to a family group who invited us into the shade of their verandah and plied us with water for half an hour or so. Sue is pictured above with Silvano, Sonia and Elide. Thanks go to them for being so kind.
Suitably refreshed, and aided en route by a few scrumped cherries and hedgerow strawberries, both a feature of the entire day's walk, we completed the day on a pleasant, less acutely steep path to Erbezzo and the security of a comfortable room at La Stua B&B. It was 5.30 - we certainly took our time in the heat today.
After another nice meal (we are absolutely stuffed) at La Stua Ristorante (Bruno and his family seem to have quite a little empire) we sought out the ATM (empty) and wandered around the empty village before returning to our lodgings to watch the final of a European Football Contest, but we couldn't get the TV to work. Italy were in the final, but it was very quiet outside and unlike in the UK there are very few flags on display here.
I have a kit 'failure' to report - just wear and tear actually. The metal tips of both my Pacerpoles have gone. Does anyone know whether they are a universal fit, or do I need specific Pacerpole spares? At least I'm now much quieter on any tarmac!
Thanks for your latest comment, Alan S, but it didn't make us laugh as much as the previous one!
Dot - it'll take more than us taking a break to make you 'stagnate'.
Gillian, thanks for your inspiration and encouragement. To be honest we hope it does get cooler, as the heat makes it quite tiring, but more so to justify my carrying two down jackets. Enjoy the Stelvio Alps, it's bound to be cooler up there!
Alan R - 'Greece in September' - happy dreams, Alan - Sue and I enjoyed our honeymoon there ten years ago in September.
20km in 8 hours with 1100m ascent
Other E5 walkers - none
Clouds - none
Flower of the Day - Small Yellow Foxglove
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
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