Well, today really did not go as expected..
The day began with a nice morning walk with Lane to get coffee and blog at Bar Stefano. After blogging for a bit, we met up with a group of people at Mariano’s for lunch. During lunch, we got to talking about plans for the day and some people mentioned their interest in going on a hike.
Hiking… I’m there. I come from family that goes hiking at every opportunity. We have hiked or skied on every vacation we go on. You will rarely find us Coatney’s lounging on the beach when there are volcanoes to climb or trails to hike.
After walking back to the hotel, we rounded up the those who were down to go, a whopping 7 people. Adam and Irwin were the ones who would lead the hike because during their free time one day they went on a 9 hour hike all around and past Arezzo. However, they made many mistakes that day as they tried to reach the top and they guaranteed it would not take 9 hours to complete this time.
I should’ve known things were going to be rough after they led us through their self-made trail in the middle of a meadow. However, that was just the beginning. After 4 hours of hiking straight uphill, we were still not even close to the top but we were fresh out of food, water and good spirits. At the gradually slowing rate we were traveling, we began to worry that we would not get back until 11 or 12.
We stopped at a fountain where we used google maps to find that it was still over an hour to the top. Man, Adam and Irwin had really undersold this hike. After a pretty brief discussion, we came the conclusion that it would not be worth hiking all the way to the top for a view that would not be much different from the incredible one we already had right where we were. We rested for a bit and proceeded down the trail heading home.
To be honest, I do not know how one of us didn’t fall or tear something as we tried to not lose control when running downhill. It was too steep to walk but rather difficult to maintain a safe, controlled jog with all the lose rocks causing slipping and sliding. After about fifteen minutes, a car drove by and I thought well why not stick my thumb out and see if he’ll give us a ride. Sure enough, he stopped his car, introduced himself as Carlo, and with the little English he knew, offered us assistance. He allowed all seven of us to throw our backpacks into the trunk and pile into his very small five seater car. On the way, he called his wife to let her know that he was taking a group of American kids home because they were paying him 1 million euros 😉 We laughed at his jokes and the occasional remark about how stinky we all smelled.
He stopped the car about five minutes from the hotel and immediately jumped out to help unload our backpacks. When Lane tried to offer him some euros, he laughed, grabbed his wallet and tried to pay us. We were all so shocked by this joyful, generous man who took time out of his day help a group of exhausted, dust and sweat covered teenagers. Carlo never stopped smiling the whole way and I truly felt no language barrier with him because of the way he communicated through his actions.
In the end, we were all so thankful we had gone on that hike and were able to meet such a wonderful man who truly touched us in a way no one else has. When I look back and reminisce on this trip, I will always remember Carlo. Plus, not many people can say they have hitch hiked in Italy so that was pretty cool :]