It must have been our first spring in Italy when everything was new and our Italian still poor when our neighbours invited us to a Sunday morning walk with a group of friends.My sister was visiting and I asked if she could join. Come no? No problem. I was advised to bring something to drink and some snacks. Departure 9:30 am. It should be a 45 minute hike.
Just having had breakfast, we packed a bottle of water and some cookies. I was pretty sure we would survive until lunch. We drove to the meeting point with our gas tank close to empty and were immediately told that we would have to drive a short while to the starting point of our walk.
As a few minutes turned into half an hour on dust roads without absolutely no gas station to be found, our enthusiasm for the adventure dwindled. We arrived on the brink of a nervous breakdown at the mesmerising Castello di Titignano, situated on a hill top dominating the green-blue Tiber valley.
Our little caravan started to unpack for the walk. Dogs, walking sticks came out of cars, just as back packs and professional walking attire. I glimpsed a tough-looking Sicilian hauling a huge light blue cool box on his right shoulder.
The walk through the woods and bucolic landscape filled with sheep and shepherds with their huge white maremmano shepherd dogs definitely took more than 45 minutes. Probably because every time someone started a conversation the train of hikers came to an absolute halt until the topic was properly discussed.
After a while we arrived at a crumbling tower in the middle of the forest that gave entrance to an open space that bordered on a steep cliff. I marvelled at the river Tiber winding through a gorge hundreds of meters below. My companions had other things to do than admiring the view. Back packs and coolers were emptied on a red and white checkered tablecloth. Pizza, elegant tramezzini, cold cuts, panini, salads, fruits and dolce appeared. “Can I offer you some prosecco?” a sweet voice on my left wanted to know. “I’m sorry it’s in a carton cup.” She added. I almost forgot to answer completely baffled by the unfolding feast. If this was hiking, what would dinner look like?
On the way home our new friends managed to get us to a tiny gas station that was undistinguishable by the un-Italian eye. As they drove off they invited us for an impromptu lunch that Friday. I was pretty sure I was going to bring a hell of a lot more than just some biscuits and water.
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