More Walking

Yesterday I went to Florence to meet Ruth and Jorg Steiner. They are the parents of friends from North Carolina who are in Florence for three months. He is a visiting scholar at a prestigious University organized by the European Union to study and analyze law and political science. They are walkers and I know that from when I visited them in Switzerland several years ago. We did this amazing hike up an over the Alps (it seemed) leaving at sunset (being led along by a full moon) and arriving on the top of the mountain just before dawn. It was quite incredible. One of many hike I will never forget. I recall Jorg always trying to stay just a little bid ahead of us. He is a bit of a show-off but in quite amazing shape.

So Ruthy and Jorg met me at the train station and to my surprise we took a bus to where they live. Then we started to walk...

...and of course it was up. We went to the top of a hill (it felt like another mountain). This is the walk that they do every day to get to the office they are working in. After visiting the University, we, again, proceeded to walk up. The top of the mountain offered an amazing view of Florence.

Of course it looked like it was going to rain once we got there. And we did not have an umbrella.

But of all the walking that I have done since I've been here, I feel a great appreciation for my legs. It is also amazing how they have become stronger from all of this walking.

Having this new appreciation for walking, I decided to concentrate on the activity of doing it.

It is amazing to me that I can run for 4 or 5 miles in the morning then walk for 4 or 5 miles during the day with my forty pound camera pack on my back and at the end of the day feel tired, but good. Ah, the sweet life!

Of course it is quite often that as one gets older one gets tired and needs to take a break.

Sometimes it feels so good to stop, and sit. It seems that our world is so full of things to do on our feet. What I like about the Italian culture, at least in Bologna is that many generations come together to be outside and enjoy this early spring. Whether it is gathering at the park or getting together at the piazza to talk politics, there is much more socialization here than in the states.

Many old women and old men go out for walks each day. I see one man sitting on a bench at the park almost every time I run. He sits there with his right foot stretched out ahead of the other with his cane leaning on his right leg. He sits there with his big sad eyes, watching me run past. He is a dreamer. He dreams of days gone by. He dreams of running as I do, or better yet, he dreams of running with me. I've dedicated several runs to him and his dreams. I only hope someone does that for me when I am old.

The park is also a gathering place for people to get to a green space and enjoy many varieties of activities.

Something happened when we discovered the engine. We were able to propel ourselves through space faster. As our world gets faster with more things to do we need to get around quicker. There is a 'down' side to this. Too many, to much too fast. Sometimes it causes unintended meetings.

I had considered getting one of these devises to get around town quicker. But every time I seriously thought about it I would come across a scene like this and decide not to.

Walking also gives us the ability to walk together as a group and create a statement. One day at Piazza Maggorie, I was walking by and a large group of students who walked together and assembled themselves to make noise about the government. On the other side of the Piazza an opposing group walked together and assembled themselves. Between the two groups walked a group of cops to keep the them from having their opinions collide.

As I stood there I realized that neither group would walk over the line, nor would they actually have a fight. It was just a rally to allow the students feel empowered about the freedom of free speech. The 'boys' were just walking and standing around as part of the show. The media was also there walking all over the place trying to get opinions.

For those that walk the street for a living, or have no place to go to when they are done walking, they just stop and sleep where they are. There is a large group of homeless that sleep on the street in Bologna. I have seem some that have elaborate (so to speak) set ups that give them some of the comforts of 'home'. But most just lie down in front of churches for a nights rest.

On my walks I often encounter some of the effects of the homeless needing to take care of some of the basic necessities of living on the street. In my searching's of beauty and form I am often reminded of those that have walked before me in search of symbolism and meaning.

Gallery of Walking and Walkers