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Saturday, 22nd July 2017:

La Spezia

August may be getting closer, but we can’t possibly go on holiday before having two more hikes: kicking off what will most likely be a double Saturday of hiking (this Saturday for swimming, next week for the fish) is the “piscina naturale” event which, as every year at this time, takes place in Portovenere. The idea, of course, is to follow a trail leading to the infinite trail, then head down to Portovenere and swim to Palmaria island.

For the uninitiated: this Saturday’s big event consists in 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 swim to the island… and probably back to Portovenere (unless you find a cunning and waterproof way to carry your belongings with you). So that you know, the distance between Portovenere and Palmaria is around 250 metres.

As for the hiking part: let’s meet at La Spezia at 10am (I know, it’s early, but there aren’t many alternatives) and head to Marola (by bus). From Marola, we’ll hike up to the shelter, that offers views both of the Ligurian sea and the Spezia gulf. We’ll then move down to Campiglia and continue 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 Marola to Bocca del Cavalin should take 1,5 hours, while the trail to Portovenere requires 2 hours. Should we have some extra time, we might possibly have a short detour to the lookout point called “Salto della suocera”, i.e. jump of the mother in law(!!), which is a cliff falling in a sheer drop into the Ligurian Sea (think of a Ligurian version of Norway’s Pulpit Rock)

First part of the hike is rated “T/E” (easy), while second part is “E” (medium).

You may read more about the Infinite trail on:
– http://www.sentieridautore.it/sentieridautore.it/24.Portovenere.html (in Italian, with a beautiful map)

and about Piscina Naturale on:
http://cinqueterreandbeyond.com/it/piscina-naturale-di-portovenere-2017-il-22-luglio-alle-15-via-ai-tuffi/
(apparently, the volume of the music will be lower this year… which would not be a bad idea!)

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

On Saturday, July 22nd, let’s meet at 10:00am outside La Spezia Centrale railway station, near the red human pyramid monument (I do hope it’s still there! if not, let’s just meet at the entrance of the station).

Suggested trains are:

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 you’ll need to catch the 7am Thello train.

There’s plenty of trains back from La Spezia. If you come from afar, don’t forget there’s the 2×1 ticket! (if you plan on swimming or sightseeing in Portovenere, you should book a train after 6pm)

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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 Thursday. It’s a buy 1 and get 1 free offer, so you’ll basically pay half price.

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(*) For those who happen to be over 60 or under 26:

You can half price even without a travel buddy. Remember that you need to have a Cartafreccia card in order to use the junior/senior special offer (in the unlikely case that you don’t have a Cartafreccia card yet, let me know and I can send you an invitation… in which case we’ll both get a 10 euro coupon:-) ). Also, ticket should be booked before 11:59 of Friday.

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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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