The Germans were encountered at Passo dell'Osteria Bruciata, where the triangular marker (picture - top) relates the history of this 'Burnt Inn Pass'. A few years ago an enterprising chap set up an inn here, to meet the needs of passing pilgrims. Meat was always on the menu, but sadly a pilgrim or two would regularly disappear. The locals put two and two together and burnt the inn down.
Nearby, I found an Alfa Romeo (Alan R can correct me if necessary) on which to make my bid for freedom from Sue's ongoing foot problems (middle picture).
Yesterday we passed a massive quarry that in summer would largely be concealed by foliage. We heard about a dozen blasts then, but only a couple today. The area is renowned for its marble quarries.
The main issue with the last couple of days' paths is that for much of the time they have been shared with trial bikers, who (except for two brief encounters on Sunday) remain invisible. So noise is not an issue, but their knobbly tires tend to be unkind to the ground. This is an observation, not really a whinge, but anyone choosing this otherwise brilliant venue for a trip should embark on it in the knowledge that some of the paths are shared with both trial bikers and mountain bikers - the latter of whom we have seen no evidence whatsoever.
By the time we went down for breakfast this morning, Sonia had returned, cleared our debris from last night, and put the coffee on. Some of 'last night's debris' was put to good use by way of our most sumptuous packed lunch to date, and we were off by 9am, having apologised for the plumbing disaster (blocked toilet) that occurs at some point on nearly all of our trips (and regularly at home as well).
Today's route, admirably described in Gillian's guide book, subject to a few minor amendments (mainly that the route along the road from Passo della Futa has been superseded by a non road route accessed from the north of the WW2 cemetery - allow an extra hour), enjoyed the usual 'crest top' scenery, but it was noticeably more difficult to grab the wider views as the beech leaves seemed to be unfurling by the hour.
Readers planning a visit should also note that the GEA now follows the direct '00' route over Monte Gazzaro, so far as we could see. An excellent revision, as it's too hard for trial bikes. Be sure to visit the panoramic viewpoint.
We spent just under 9 hours on the trail today, in our now de rigeur shorts and t-shirt uniforms, covering little more than 29 km, every one a delight.
Tonight's hotel, the Margherita, came highly recommended by John Hayes, who bimbled through these parts last October. Vito (our host) remembers John - he spent some time fixing accommodation for him in an out of season period. He also remembers John's courtesy and his thank you letter. Today, Vito's 'customer assistance' has been more onerous. He and a colleague (sister?) at the hotel were pressed into service as witnesses. Nick and Maya arrived here from Romania a week ago. For one night. They liked the place. They liked it a lot. They stayed. They were in love.
Today they got married here. They have us for company for dinner. (Not at the same table.) The food is superb. There's a birthday party going on in the adjoining room. It feels as if the season has started, although Vito admits that business is slow.
What a contrast to last night, when we were left alone in our hotel on the pass!
The lower picture was taken in tonight's hotel before we realised we weren't revisiting the Marie Celeste!
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