When I think of Italy, I imagine myself dressed in white surrounded by men feeding me grapes and whispering things in Italian to me. Catherine imagined hiking a mountain. She found her mountain. I didn’t get my men.
On the announcement that we would spend a day hiking “Mount Grona” I gave a fake smile and a thumbs up. Not my idea of a vacation but when traveling with a companion, compromise is key.
We woke up early to catch a bus. The bus would take us to Mennaggio, where we would take a second bus up the winding road to Plesio, the base of Mount Grona. Before getting on the bus, I stopped at Lake Como’s version of a bodega; 2 apples, 2 bananas, 2 oranges, and a big bottle of water.
Once we were comfortably on the bus, Catherine realized she forgot her phone. My POS iPhone would have to guide us. To Plesio we finally arrived to, um, nothing. The town was empty besides a church. Not exactly sure where to go, we figured ‘up’ would be a good direction. Thank you to the little old Italian man who, between his laughter, pointed us to the trail.
So the hike begins. I can hike. I’ve hiked before. Hell, I’ve gone running in the mountains before. We jump over a barbed wire fence. I ask Catherine if we could not do dangerous things like that again. She agrees. We chat. We laugh. Then, we find a sign (see below.)
“We must be at the Refuge center!” I hopefully exclaim. Nope. We keep going up. 45 minutes later we hit the refuge center to which we split a cliff bar (breakfast and lunch.) It should be noted the apples and oranges are devoured. The intermediate trail is what we’ll take to get to the top. The top is only .5 Km up, no problem. By my calculation that’s a third of a mile- so like 20 minutes.
We climb. Literally, we climb. Half a kilometer the signs keep saying. My phone dies. My hands are holding on to boulders praying not to fall. Catherine tells me “Don’t worry, we’ll only get seriously injured, not die.” Seriously injured with 2 tampons, a box of Band-Aids and no phone in the Italian mountains. And again, an hour later, its .5Km to the top.
Right before we reach the top, I lose it. “Half a kilometer! HALF A KILOMETER!” I shout some more. “You know what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. You have a Giuseppe and Nina. And Nina says to Giuseppe ‘ah, Giuseppe, I needa you to makea the signsa’ and Giuseppe says ‘Nina, whata you mean?’ ‘You know. The signsa that say .5 km to the top’ So Giuseppe makes the signs and they all say .5 Km to the top and Nina says ‘Giusseppe, a stupido, they all saya the same thinga! Ack, no a wory. No one willa care.”
Catherine doesn’t know if she should laugh or admit me to a mental asylum. Fortunately 3 minutes later we were at the top of the mountain and I was sitting in the sun eating a chocolate bar that I forgot was in my bag.