|View looking down over the other parts of Liguria from trail 1|
Thanksgiving in Italy is a tough one.
Most people I've talked to seem to be confused between the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. It usually goes something like, "Oh, Thanksgiving, is that the day you barbeque a turkey? On the first Monday in December?" which means that I give them partial points for getting some of the holiday traditions right. Regardless, it's an anomoly here, which means it's up to us American ex-pats and our patient male companions to whip up a Thanksgiving for any Americans around longing for a turkey bigger than our tiny European oven.
|More sun and sea from trail 1|
|From trail 1 we reconnected with the paved street|
with sweeping views above the other villages
|The snow covered mountains of the Ligurian Alps in the distance|
We actually did a great job, if I do say so myself. A trip to the "American" supermarket in Pisa meant that canned pumpkin, pecans, a Butterball turkey and sweet potatoes made their required appearences on the table. We ate pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mom's cheesecake (thanks again, mom, it was amazing), cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce still comfortingly shaped like the metal can it came in, and all the other dishes that mean home. Even some that don't - I've never had a green bean casserole with fried onions before (and I do not think I will again, but that's just a personal preference).
And, fortunately, the winter quiet in the region means that the hiking trails were totally empty to burn off all of the calories.
|Flat, wide, paved - now we are speaking my language. And Monterosso peeking out from below...|
|Santa Croce on trail 1|
|Through the woods, up the mountain|
We hiked trail 1 up to Santa Croce, a little (mostly deserted) one room chapel on a mountain overlooking the whole coast of the Italian Riviera. Liguria's long and skinny boomerang shape means that from the far east, on a clear day, you can see the west coast which connects to France, lined with sloping hills and mountains over the still sea, and in the distance behind you, the snowy peaks of the Apennine mountains looming over the other border where Liguria meets it's neighbor, Tuscany (and, coincidentally, another national park).
|Corbezzoli, or strawberry tree fruit|
|Scary part on trail 2 from Monterosso-Vernazza. There were more narrow ones,|
but I was too scared to let go of the wall and take a picture.
Even trail 2, from Monterosso to Vernazza, usually the most crowded of the trails during tourist season, was totally empty. We encountered only 4 other people on our 1.5 hour hike, which was fine by me. Parts of the trail are very, very narrow with room really for only one person to pass, and hanging on the side of a mountain trying to maneuver this with groups of people coming from both sides would not be my idea of a good time.
|The most famous shot from trail 2 arriving in our neighbor, Vernazza. Worth the anxiety!|