Bruno is a 'dry' character, but he clearly spotted that we had arrived from E5 rather than in a BMW, and he wants more E5 custom. €111 for B&B, dinner and beer was very reasonable. Cash only is the rule around here, so with the ATM having been confirmed this morning as a cashless resource, we are on a budget for the next few days.
A hot descent down a rough, overgrown path took us from Erbezzo into 'the gloomy Vaio dell' Anguilla'. Despite some intermittent cloud today, and lower temperatures in the 25-30C range, we were really quite 'drippy' by the time we 'bottomed out' in this very humid 'Valley of the Eels'.
No eels were found. The closest we got to that was later on when we found a couple of small grey snakes (25 cm long, 4-5mm diameter). They were 'morti'. Tonight's host, Gabrielle, thinks that they probably found nice basking rocks, went to sleep, and fried! It rather looked that way. Sue also found a mole, in perfect condition, but also 'morti'. Perhaps it died of boredom, waiting for a snake to move?
By the time we reached the small hamlet of Lesi we had given up our search for dock leaves, so enjoyed some long glugs from our water bottles, together with KitKats carried from Timperley, on a shady bench outside a weekend retreat. The water was still cool from our fridge in the B&B, and we managed to consume the chocolate shortly before it would have melted for the third day running. The bars had adopted very strange shapes!
After that break we set off with renewed purpose, only to encounter - a few minutes later - the slightly larger hamlet of Croce. Sadly, our legs failed to carry us past Albergo Croce, where cappucinos were downed whilst chatting to the elderly residents and waiting for our water bottles to be refilled.
Suitably refreshed, we enjoyed the ever changing miscellany of paths and tracks that led over to Maregge past various features described in Gillian's book. Today's terrain bore more than a little similarity to that of the White Peak back at home. At one spot the Nutcrackers we disturbed flew back to their pine woods, but the Pied Flycatchers ignored us and continued to collect food for their nearby family.
Locanda Maregge was conveniently reached at 1pm. Cokes and tagliatelle ai funghi provided a satisfying lunch under an umbrella.
No, it wasn't raining, it's just a tactic to avoid frying.
Half the afternoon was spent meandering on quiet lanes and empty footpaths to the edge of the Lessini plateau, across which the day had seen us walk almost entirely in an easterly direction from the highest village on the undulating plateau.
Sue is pictured in front of an old church that must have once been on the finely constructed main road that is now the domain of walkers and mountain bikers, not to mention cross country skiers judging by the 'MagnaLoppet' signs.
Before a final ascent, we spotted what looked like a small deer ahead of us. It bounded away as we grabbed our binoculars. They told us that it wasn't a deer at all - just the biggest hare we'd ever seen. Seconds later, the high pitched whistles of the first marmots we have seen on this trip confirmed that we weren't in the White Peak after all, though the scenery could have misled us into thinking that.
We had risen to over 1400 metres by the time we reached a sign indicating 1 hour 45 mins to Giazza. It didn't look like it at the time, but this signified the edge of the plateau, from which we descended through trees for 700 metres or so on a perfectly graded old track that reminded us of the hunting tracks in the Maritime Alps.
We paused to down our last dregs of water, before our final descent to Giazza (pictured), where we hauled ourselves up through the pretty village to Albergo Belvedere.
After handing over Bruno's presents to Gabrielle, we sat on the balcony of the bar with some cold beers and a large bowl of cherries presented to us by Gabrielle, who was then challenged by Sue to identify in Italian the various dead animals she had photographed during the day. He was very patient.
Our room is fine. "There is no key" apologised Gabrielle, adding "but there is no crime here."
There is a minor flood though, as our shower cubicle is minus a door.
It's slightly cooler here, so we enjoyed our meal - less of an endurance test than last night's. Speciality lasagne, fried trout with chips, sprouts and lettuce, and a delicious slice of apfelstrudel.
I believe it's a 'proper' mountain day tomorrow!
Alan S - you do seem to have a rough time in Scotland in May! I have yet to encounter a 'cleg' during the TGO Challenge, and have encountered very few midges. There was quite a bit of rain last year, I recall, and one really wet day this year, but I'm sure we'll get a few days like that on this trip as well...
Patrick - all our long Alpine trips have started with unseasonably hot weather. It's a good omen! Yes, the 'fountains' are great - much better than taking water from a peaty stream...
20km in 8 hours with 950m ascent
Other walkers - none
Dead snakes - 2
Flower of the Day - Red Helleborine
(from a very long shortlist, chosen because we can't recall having seen it before - flower varieties seem to increase exponentially every day)
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
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