Spring break is over, and we are in the final stretch to summer vacation. We were able to complete six walks in three countries over spring break. The best were two walks in the Aviano, Italy, area.

Clark Soeldner took us to dinner Friday night and introduced us to Carlo and Cathy from the Aviano Road Runners. Saturday morning, we all met to walk the permanent course, which starts at Aviano’s Madonna del Monte.

This is a beautiful, if somewhat challenging, trail in the hills above Aviano. It is not stroller- friendly, but the views along the trail are spectacular. The trail is known as the Percorso Circolare Santuario, or PCS for short, and PCS is on the signs that mark the trail.

After the walk, Clark took us to a nice restaurant on the side of a beautiful mountain lake near the town of Barcis. The only thing better than the view was the delicious asparagus lasagna we had for lunch.

Sunday morning we were off to the nearby town of Porcia for its walk. Porcia has a pretty lake with ducks and swans near the center of town. We got there early in the morning when the sunlight lit the water nicely. If the walk in Porcia is typical for all “volksmarches” in Italy, then there are a couple of fundamental differences compared with walking in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.

First, Italian events seem to be geared toward runners more than walkers. There was a definite race atmosphere, with people jogging and stretching to loosen up, an inflatable “gate” to designate the finish line and most people wore running shoes and running outfits. There were few Nordic walking poles, and most people wore their start cards on a ribbon around their necks.

Second, we noticed that people were not getting their start cards stamped at the tables set up along the route. They did not have the control points we are used to seeing, where you can go inside, get your start card stamped, sit down and get something to eat or drink. Their tables were designed for people to quickly get a drink or a nibble and be on their way. The trail was well marked, and people were stationed at road crossings and strategic turns to help participants cross streets and stay on the right course.

After the Porcia race, we picked up our prize of a large flowering geranium and left it for Carlo and Cathy as a small thank you for their hospitality. Then we were off to Venice for a few days.

The people in Italy and the Aviano area were friendly, the countryside was beautiful and we earned our IVV stamps for Italy. It seems to be an ideal place for people who prefer running or jogging to walking as a form of fitness, but we’ll continue to walk and enjoy the scenery along the way.

Since we have been talking about Italy, here are Clark’s tips of the week:

• The prize for completing the walk in Tavagnacco is a meal featuring asparagus.

• You needed to sign up in advance if you wanted to get the food pack at the Verona walk. The prize is limited to the first 18,000 participants. That sounds like a very crowded walk!

• Clark warns, “I walked the 28-km route last year, and when I arrived at the finish they had already packed up the final restoro and I had to find the IVV guy to get my books stamped!”

• We can’t forget to mention the 25th Annual Aspergeswandeltocht in St. Odiliënberg, Netherlands, on Sunday. The W.V. Roerdal ’87 is a club that always puts on a well-organized walk, and St. Odiliënberg has become one of our favorite places to walk. Doors open at 7 a.m. and the routes range from 6- to 42 kilometers.

• In the walk chart that accompanies this column, we shortened the name of the town Selz di Ronchi dei Legionari to just Selz di Ronchi so it would fit.

• Walkers in the Grafenwöhr and Vilseck, Germany, communities will find the volksmarch in Pressath very convenient.

• The Reutlingen event this weekend is a Stammtisch walk for the Stuttgart German American Wandering Club.

• Last fall, Tim and Luchi Lynch wrote us about the great walk they did in Monreal. This weekend’s event in Reudelsterz is very close to Monreal. Based upon the Lynches report, we were planning to do this walk and then visit Monreal. However, we decided to join our local Tri-Border Walking Club on their trip to walk in the very north of Holland this weekend. So, Monreal will go back onto the waiting list for us.

• A million thanks for the fliers go out to William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro; Cath and Rob Floyd; Richard and Donna Glenn; Wayne Henry; John, Mary and Tess Laub; Tim and Luchi Lynch; “Pat” and Cheryl Patterson; Rick and Wanda Sciascia; and Nancy Shawley.

E-mail volksmarch information to Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker CMR 460, Box 278 APO AE 09752

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