Thighs of Steel and Bionic Knees – Praiano Day 5

This morning broke clear and orange. I listened. No flapping. No banging. No shrieking howls. Could it be…no wind? I tiptoed to the terrace. A huge, quiet dawn settled over me.

Then a little voice in my head said, “LET THE GAMES BEGIN!”

Maybe it’s a residual Viking gene. Or maybe it’s my sun in the ninth house of travel. Maybe both. All I know is that I love to explore new places and delve into different cultures. It was time to delve and explore.

There was a lot I didn’t know this morning that I know now. One of my main misconceptions was a biggie. I assumed all the little lines on the map that said Via, were roads.

A sunshine high and a cozy 51°F (10.5°C) made it perfect walking weather. The 112 steps to the street were by now child’s play. I locked the blue gate behind me and took a left on Via Roma. My goal was Marina Tuttu per Tutti, a real grocery store somewhere on the cliff above. If I connected with Via Miglina, it would take me to Via San Giovanni. From there I’d need to find Via La Sciola – maybe – and that would deliver me to Via Umberto where I’d turn right and…

One thing I knew for sure. There was no way I could get lost. If things started looking questionable, all I had to do was head for the water. Via Roma runs the length of Praiano along the coast. That fact brought considerable peace to my directionally challenged self.

It was a little farther than I thought to Via Miglina. But I found it, made the sharp turn, and began climbing. There was a truck parked in the middle of the road a few meters ahead. A bit rude, I thought, since nothing much besides me could get around him.

In a few more steps I saw why it didn’t matter. Via Miglina became a footpath.

And then it became steps.

And so it went – footpath, steps, footpath, steps…

I’d reached a semi-level stretch and heard birds. That isn’t unusual in itself, but these were loud and sounded suspiciously like the parakeets we had when I was growing up. I could have sworn it was our Petey and Sugar. It was loud. I glanced down. Two wire covered cages were set into the wall at knee level. Inside – parakeets.

The birds seemed happy and well-tended. I left the strange aviary and trudged on.

In the short time I’ve been here I’ve been struck by the artistic brilliance that seems to be Italy’s birthright. It blossoms everywhere and this path was no exception.

It just appeared, all this art on the narrow path hugging the wall. How can one not be inspired when creativity sprouts from every crevice and pore?

Up to this moment I hadn’t met another soul on the Via Miglina. But as I left the art and continued on, I heard what sounded like a an army of Dutchmen in wooden shoes approaching.

I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t take a picture. I was stunned out of my wits to see a man riding a mule and leading another one. “Hello!” I said. “Buongiorno,” he replied. Clop-clop, clop-clop, clop-clop. I stared after them until they rounded a corner out of sight. What I remember most clearly is how healthy the mules looked. Or donkeys – I’m not an expert. Their coats shone. Their eyes were clear and bright. They held their heads high and looked quite pleased to be helping out. The one in the rear was carrying building materials.

I snapped out of my daze when I noticed a sign by a flight of steps going down. Via Asciola it said. Whoops! That wasn’t on my list. Had I gone too far? Via San Giovanni must be behind me, but where?

I did an about-face and retraced my steps. Sure enough, there it was. I read the faint sign that had been behind me when I passed from the other direction. Via San Giovanni. Another Via that wasn’t a road.

By now my thighs were feeling a bit jelly-ish. When I cleared the last step and turned right on Via Umberto, there it was! Tuttu per Tutti – big as life!

It was a proper grocery store and, unlike Asian markets I’ve been in, most things were recognizable. There were probably six other people shopping and they may have wondered why I went so slowly, perusing each shelf as though memorizing it’s contents – which I was. A lot can be learned about people by studying what they eat.

When my spinach, feta cheese, pesto, crackers, and laundry soap were bagged, the stereotypical Italian clerk – shock of graying hair, larger nose, sparkling dark eyes and bushy mustache – beamed a broad, white-toothed smile. It takes so little to turn me to mush! “Grazie!” I said, as I slung a much heavier pack onto my back and started home.

Lady Luck was with me. She usually is. I’d gone only a few steps and noticed a Via I hadn’t seen before. I stood staring down it’s plunging corridor and far, far below there were cars whizzing by. A shortcut!

At the bottom I found myself once again on Via Miglina.

Now that I knew what I was looking for, in no time I’d found a second short-cut to the Via Roma and…the sea.

I promise…I will never complain about the stairs into Penestanan again! Of course there is something about doing that climb in 90°F (32.2°C). It isn’t quite apples to apples…but nonetheless, I promise!

When I reached the street I took a photo so I’d remember. The next time I want to visit Tuttu per Tutti this staircase will shave fifteen minutes off my journey!

I had one more stop…

Angela’s shop. I wanted to check in with my new friend and buy a second bottle of Italian wine. A young girl greeted me. I told her I’d been in before and met Angela. “I’m her daughter,” she said and picked up her cell phone. I turned to the wine shelf. The Pinot Grigio was delicious but I was ready for a robust red. A Cabernet Sauvignon called Cielo caught my eye just as Angela burst through the door.

“My daughter said you were here.” So that was the phone call.

“Angela! Good to see you!” We chatted about the weather.

“The sun is good for you, no?” she said.

“Good for me, good for you,” I replied, knowing as I said it I was channeling every shopkeeper in Bali.

I have two thoughts as I finish this post and take the first sips of a truly exquisite wine.

One, I’m glad I’m doing this now…

and

Two, I’m SO glad I’m doing this now!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevecastley
    Feb 08, 2020 @ 05:33:23

    Love it as always. The photos make it amazing. So many steps! Keep having fun, you little Billy goat.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 08, 2020 @ 14:46:20

      So many steps indeed! I’m Capricorn, remember? The goat!!! Actually, it’s the Sea Goat, a mythological creature half goat with a fish’s tail. Even more interesting that I’m here on the sea with mountains to climb!

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  2. Anonymous
    Feb 08, 2020 @ 07:47:25

    Fabulous Sherry and the ‘vias’ look just like Penestanan Kaja – is there an equivalent to Yellow Flower? I wish they’d use donkeys here to carry building materials instead of noisy motor bikes. You’re going to have muscles on your muscles when you get back.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 08, 2020 @ 14:51:56

      I haven’t found the Yellow Flower equivalent yet! I actually haven’t seen a restaurant that’s open this time of year! But they’re out there. Perhaps today I’ll go the opposite direction toward San Gennaro, the church with the beautiful blue dome. My host tells me there’s a coffee shop near there that’s open year round. Within a few steps of coffee is Che Bonta, a restaurant that just may be the Yellow Flower counterpart!

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  3. sageblessings
    Feb 08, 2020 @ 10:02:01

    Brilliant….thanks! Love the inlaid art everywhere. Those stairs…..yikes. Keep adventuring,

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