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Saturday, July 19th:

 
La Spezia

 
Shall we have two more hikes before the August break? This Saturday I suggest hiking along the infinite trail in Portovenere and swimming to the Palmaria island. Two weeks from now the hike will be linked to S.Margherita Ligure’s fish festival.

But first things first: this Saturday’s big event is the closing of the Portovenere strait to the boats: from 3pm until evening, boats won’t be allowed to cross it, thus making it feasible to swim from Portovenere to Palmaria. The plan then is to walk&swim from La Spezia to Portovenere and all the way to the island. We’ll probably also need to swim back to Portovenere, unless you find a cunning way to carry your belongings with you. So that you know, the distance between Portovenere and Palmaria is around 250-300 metres.

As for the hiking part: let’s meet at La Spezia at 11am and head to Acquasanta (by bus). From the district of Acquasanta, we’ll walk along the old roman road until Campiglia (hopefully, this time we’ll get it right!). From Campiglia, we’ll move on to Portovenere along one of the most beautiful Ligurian paths, the so called “infinite trail”, so as to finish the hike in Portovenere. The “infinite” trail probably owes its name to the fact that the alignment of Mt Muzzerone, Portovenere and the islands of Palmaria and Tino make the trail appear much longer (almost infinite) than it actually is. In truth, the walk from Campiglia to Portovenere takes about 2,5 hours, while the trail from Acquasanta to Campiglia is one hour long. First part of the hike is rated “T” (super easy), while the second part has 400 mt of vertical gain and is rated as “E” (medium).

You may read more about the Campiglia-Portovenere hike on:
http://www.sentieridautore.it/sentieridautore.it/24.Portovenere.html (in Italian, with a beautiful map)
http://oldbroadabroad.com/blog/?p=2285 (in English, with beautiful photos)
http://www.comune.pisa.it/wwfpisa/Trekking/Gite2007/Portovenere.pdf (the whole hike map)

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How to get to La Spezia… and how to come back alive:

On Saturday, July 19th, let’s meet at 11:00am in front of La Spezia Centrale railway station, just outside the ticket office.

Suggested trains are:

* for those travelling eastwards
reg 24529: Genova Piazza Principe 08:14 (Genova Brignole 08:25) Sestri Levante 09:31
+
reg 24487: Sestri Levante 09:45 La Spezia Centrale 10:56

OR

IC 505: Genova Piazza Principe 08:51 (Genova Brignole 09:00) La Spezia Centrale 10:04

From Pisa and Parma there should be one connection at least, from Milano it’s almost a mission impossible to get to La Spezia by 11am.

Return from Portovenere may be around 5pm.. or later, depending on how long you wish to swim. After all, among many attractions in Portovenere there’s also the Byron caves, which supposedly were the poet’s favourite swimming place

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For those who are catching IC or Freccia trains:

If you have a travel buddy, you should buy the “2×1″ special ticket before midnight (11:59pm) of Friday. It’s a buy 1 and get 1 free offer, so you’ll basically pay half price. The only catch of the offer: if you buy this special ticket online, Trenitalia requires you to specify names of both passengers. If your travel buddy betrays you, the fine is half the price you paid + 8 euros. Inspectors rarely check for ID, but they may get suspicious, if the ticket says “Alice and Bob” and there are 2 guys or 2 girls.

On the other hand, if you buy the “2×1″ ticket” at a “Fast Ticket” machine at a train station, you won’t need to punch in any names, which makes it easier to find another travel buddy, if your former trip companion betrays you.

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As usual, if you have doubts, questions, Hamlet-like dilemmas… feel free to text me! (for example, at +39 329 7203364)

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