Sunday, February 24, 2013


We went to an orthopedic hospital in Milan yesterday to get some more X-rays and tests done, as the emergency room's X-rays were deemed "not thorough enough" by the family back doctor. Since I can't walk, we had to call another private ambulance to cart me there. It's not that bad, except that the family house is on the 4th floor, so the ambulance drivers are never thrilled. Nor am I, as being carted up on a backboard is a little scary.
The tests at the clinic came back normal save for the fact that it looks like I actually have 2 or even 3 fractured vertebrae, which they missed on the first X-ray. I also was apparently fitted with a brace way too big, so we got me a new smaller one. Thank goodness we decided to get me a fancy universal insurance policy earlier this year.
It doesn't change anything in terms of my recovery time, so we called ANOTHER ambulance to bring us back home.
We have explained every time to the drivers, who usually are from the region
the hospital is in, how the roads to arrive in the Cinque Terre are horrible. They usually laugh and say they've seen worse. When we arrive they start out zooming around curves and then slow down, no longer laughing and commenting that the road (singular, yes) to arrive in Monterosso is like roads were in Trentino (or insert other region here) 50 years ago.
Our ambulance from Milan wasn't much different save for the fact that we have another factor to add to the equation.
It's snowing. A lot.
They inform us confidently that they have taken courses driving in the snow and ice in Switzerland. They have driven in Austria! They have been to the mountains in a blizzard and didn't even use the snow chains! This is nothing! It's not even snowing!
I nervously nodded, knowing the outcome when we got off the highway would be the same. It does not normally snow here, and with the roads already as they are, plus an area unprepared for weather of this kind, it makes getting around in a car nearly impossible.
After exiting and getting to Levanto with some effort, they turned back and laughed, feeling confident in their snow tires and driving skills, until we informed them we were actually the next village, and yes, we have to climb back up another mountain then down to arrive in the village.
They were not happy. Even less so when they learned they'd have to go back the exact same way, as there is just one road in and out of town. I knew this drive would be added to their bragging list as the started to quietly snap pictures. Strapped to the back in a gurney with no view of what was happening outside, I was pretty nervous.
Climbing up, we got stuck in the snow for 15 minutes as they finally relented to the snow chains and grudgingly got out into the thick flakes to put them in the tires. As they opened the door to the back of the ambulance, I craned my neck to see the sea a haze of grey as it blended into the sky, the dark green terraced hills laced with a white icing of snow, and our one lane mountain road covered in slush and ice. A few other cars had also pulled to the side, the drivers nervously planning their next move. With the snow chains we were able to climb up the mountain then down into monterosso, but a normal 3-3.5 hour ride took us a little over 5.
The roads were promptly closed by the police shortly after.
As always, another adventure. And only 12 more days lying in bed!


  1. Wow, sending good thoughts your way for your recovery. Your good cheer AND ability to send out such great pics in the midst of this is Amazing!

  2. Thank you so much!! As for the pictures, however, my boyfriend patiently went out in the snow with my iphone so get me to stop asking what in gods name was going on (as I was strapped in a gurney in the back) I can't take all the credit :)

  3. So sorry to hear about your accident. Although I am often envious of your locale, thinking about ambulance rescues in the area made me decide to continue living on flat land. I'm catching up on your blog entries and your entry about your hike had me seriously laughing out loud. Living in Cinque Terre and never visiting the trails?? Then I thought that we live two hours from Yosemite and have only been there a couple of times. Guess we all need to take time to investigate our own back yards. Praying you're back on your feet soon...but picturing you running up and down the stairs in your cantina seems difficult. Melissa from California (the crazy lady who carried sauces halfway round the world)

  4. The worst part is that I was really getting into this hiking thing! Ha. And I do get a forced "vacation" until late April-early May, because running and stairs are two things out of my vocabulary for a little while.
    AND you are NOT a crazy lady! I have told that story 1,000 times. It was honestly one of the nicest things that's happened to me. Seriously, it still makes me smile. Thank you again for your kindness - and hot sauce! :)

  5. Christine, I so hope you are getting well. i know how hard that is after my sone having his T2 to T11 fussed two days after i got home from my trip last year to Cinque Terre. I pray you will not only have a speeding healing, but that you will find a new self and brighter future in this not so orded adventure you are now on. humility is the toughest of lessons, but the greatest rewards come after such an event.
    May you know the love of many as they take care of you, may you be blessed by the reward of accepting the help you need and may you get back to sharing with us all gain soon you lovely outlooks on the days in your life and in Cinque Terre. Blessings Denise (Aussi Girl)

  6. Thank you so much Denise - you're always so sweet! You son and I have a few vertebra in common! :) xo