Hot Humid and Steep

Our timing was impeccable. While we were gone, it was cold and rainy in Zürich but simultaneously warm and sunny in Italy. (In particular, it was not hot and stifling in Italy – which is often the case in July.)

Feeling that I deserved, eh, needed a vacation, Nazy did significant research and preparation. Some of preparatory work – e.g. asking friends for advice – was clearly appropriate. The rationale behind other items – e.g. Nazy’s daily hike through the local hills and valleys – was, in contrast, rather opaque. In any event, the final itinerary encompassed stops in Italian wine country, Cinque Terre (a collection of five villages on the coast) and Portofino.

We left Zürich under the expert guidance of
Claudia, the navigation computer for the BMW. Immediately recognizing the standard traffic jam at the Gotthard Tunnel, Claudia rearranged our routing to avoid any delay – in Switzerland. The Italian route was somewhat more problematic. Nazy noticed the situation immediately.

“That truck,” she shouted, “is halfway into our lane!”

“I know, my dear.” I replied. “In most countries, the motorways are designed so that the lanes will be wider than the vehicles that use them.”

“A wise approach…”

“However, we are in Italy where the Autostrada..”


“.. the ‘highway’ was designed for chariots – one horse chariots.”


“It gets worse, my dear. The lanes are narrow and most of the drivers follow Italian ‘rules’. It is a recipe for…”

“Slow Down!” Nazy shouted.

“Precisely,” I replied.

Our first stop was Ivera in Piemonte. The
reasonably priced Hotel Sirio provided a gloriously spacious room with wonderful mountain and lake views. This combination proved to be unique for the holiday.

Italian atmospherics cause expression of a culture-seeking gene in human beings. Accordingly, Nazy and I embarked on day trips to Castallmonte and Torino, both of which were in the vicinity of the hotel.

With help from
Claudia, we had no trouble getting to our destination. We signed up for a guided tour of the Castallmonte. Culture was oozing from every, almost every pore. (Sweat was oozing from the some pores.) We had just begun the tour:

“My glasses!” I exclaimed. “I’ve dropped my glasses.”

dan with glasses italy

Explanation: The tour moved between buildings. It was dark inside the buildings, but bright between them. As I moved from regular glasses to sunglasses, I hooked the irrelevant pair to my shirt. []. (Readers may find it hard to locate the glasses because they are busy chuckling over the photo. I admit that the tour earphones, pink jeep cap, Sydney 2000 Olympic shirt and general pose combine to make ‘Dan’ look somewhat like a clueless dork. However, the author of this story states – emphatically – that “The Dan Character” is wise and cool.)

“When did you last have them?” Nazy asked almost predictably.

“I don’t know,” I replied – equally predictably.

If, however, we had examined the photo, we would have seen that the glasses had disengaged from my shirt about 2 nanoseconds after the photo was taken. That would have limited the search area. As it was, we missed the tour while searching for the glasses. A random tourist found them an hour later about 2 feet from where the picture was taken. (In our defense, it was not easy to see them on the path. (I hate cobblestones.) Nazy noted that it was ‘stupid’ to wear glasses attached, flimsily, to a shirt. [Hold that thought.]

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