We were warned by lots of Germans that the last part of the Munich Venice walk was not nice and had the impression that we would be walking along busy roads with lorries humming past. Although the last 48 hours have not been great walking, it wasn't that bad.
Three things dominate my memory of the last two days.
Firstly the levees. The countryside is totally flat and the route sticks limpet like to top of a never ending line of flood defences or levees bordering the river Piave. From the top of the levee, usually walking along a gravel or grassy path, you can see everything there is to see -field after field of maize or beans.
The second is the First World War and the numerous reminders of the last major battle, the Battle of Piave River. The Battle, in which the British played a very significant role, saw the Italians defeat the Austrian Army (after being forced back to the River a year earlier) and precipitated the collapse of the Austrio Hungarian Empire. It also put the Italians in a strong position in the subsequent peace talks which resulted in German speaking South Tyrol (walked through earlier on this trip) being included in Italy.
The Italians are clearly proud of this victory although it is a little strange to see some of the memorials, particularly the one at Bocca Callalta, which were clearly built when the country was run by Mussolini and the Facists.
The Piave front line was where Hemingway served and the walk passes through Fossalta where he was wounded. His time here was the basis for "Farewell to Arms".
The third feature of the last two days is hard surfaces and although most of the roads were empty with little traffic our feet, particularly in the heat, took a real hammering. Just glad I wasn't wearing the huge heavy boots which seem standard issue for the German hiker.
Today we said goodbye to the Chris and Mike who have been with us on our tramp across Northern Italy for the last week. They have been excellent company and probably arrived just in time to reinvigorate us. Mike introduced the Colonel - Batman designations although unlike Chris I don't think he ever achieved that rank. Personally I think Don Quixote and Sancho Panza also works even if white windmills are few and far between on the hills of North Yorkshire. Although they didn't experience the Munich Venice walk at its very best they did get a sampler.
They walked with us for the first half of yesterday and just as they were about to turn around we stumbled on a friendly little Osteria. Having served up 4 'radlers' (shandy) and a platter of ham and salami the host dished up a plate of grilled mussels, a perfect parting gift from Italy.
After passing a memorial celebrating the role of the British Army (Gordon Highlanders) in securing a bridgehead over the Piave River, Christine and I crashed on through the heat towards Bocca Callalta. Perhaps the most interesting thing was the number of tractors and trailers bouncing along carrying grapes to what must be a very big local Prosecco factory. Not previously a fan of the stuff I have now developed a taste for it (cheaper than beer) so demand may be up.
We found a lovely little hotel last night which happily had air conditioning. Given the heat and the mosquitoes we have decided this is a must. For dinner we consumed vast quantities of prosecco and Frito Mista, the Venetian version of fish and chips.
We got off early this morning and for the first 15km, all the way to Musile Di Piave, walked entirely along a grassy levee. It was nice and a sharp contrast with the 2nd 15km which was very hot and entirely along roads. We had been promised a bar with a Bavarian beer garden en-route, but despite a couple of German Munich - Venice veterans desperate for a drink the low price of prosecco had destroyed the business and it had shut down.
Jesolo took forever to arrive. After being reinvigorated by ice-cream we decided not to stay at the recommended hotel (no air conditioning) but seek a better place on the edge of town. This turned out to be an inspired decision - great food (4 fish courses) and the best bottle of prosseco yet.
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