After my tranquil day recovering from the cold on Saturday, Sunday was the day of my big adventure. I joined a mountaineering club a couple of weeks after I got here and I'd been looking forward to the first trip ever since. We climbed the Cima della Crocetta, which is in the Gran Paradiso park in Piemonte, about 2.5 hours drive from Milan.
The club is organised differently from the ones I know at home. People meet at set points across the city to get on a full size coach and everybody does the same walk, which is usually organised by two people. While that makes it difficult to enjoy the vast solitude of the mountains, for me it was really nice because I got to meet lots of new people, all of whom were friendly and most of whom were men with names beginning with L (seriously: I met 2 Lucas, 2 Lorenzos and either a Luigi or a Ludovico, I can't remember). It also really reminded me how great it is to be able to speak Italian living here: although there were a couple of people who could have chatted in English if I had needed them to, it was much, much easier to get to know people and feel like one of the group. Without understanding Italian, I doubt I would even have got past the website to signing up for the group!
The walk itself was pretty tough. We climbed about 1250 very steep metres and, although we only really stopped for lunch and one break, it took about 8 hours. I felt really tired and a bit dizzy towards the top, but I think it was because it was about 2 o'clock in the afternoon and I had hardly eaten anything since breakfast at 5. I thought I would feel really stiff today, but in fact I was fine, so I can't be as unfit as I thought I was!
And apart from that, I think the pictures tell the story better than words can!