**Warning may contain multiple rhetorical questions read at your own risk(of annoyance)**
Even in the pre-dawn gloom Maggiore looked inviting. Awake and feeling good despite the hour I decided to take a dip, enjoying the privacy of the early morning.
Lounging on the concrete dockside Towl-less with a cup of tea and a cigarette I watched a dragonfly mired in some gravel having just sloughed off its skin.
For an hour I watched as this imposing insect exhausted itself crawling. Where was it trying to reach? Why didn't it simply stop, wait to dry, and then fly? The dragonfly was seemingly making his life so much more difficult than it needed to be.
Might a (not so)alien observer find my own journey equally incomprehensible?
There was to be no fairy tale ending for my invertebrate equivalent. Nature had other plans and our reckless hero was beset by ants. Exhausted and harangued the tiny ants overcame the dragonfly leaving a desiccated husk.
Of course our dragonfly was no noble paladin born rather to bring death from above like some insectoid chinook. Still it was a depressing sight. Perhaps even a bad omen?
This family of ducks consoled me
On a blessedly overcast morning I swiftly entered Italy
With the same exemplary timing that saw me visit the Cristo Redentor when it was covered in scaffolding my view of the Borromea of Angera was little improved by this crane.
After short ferry across the lake from Verbania to Laveno I was soon back following the re-riverified Tcinio south stopping for a swim and to visit a Gallaterria (and to go back for seconds after realising the claims about Italian ice cream were true.)
The river in this section was vibrant and home to more grebes than seemed possible. Google suggested a 'water dance' of greebes as the collective noun but that doesn't seem to have the right ring so I'm putting forward a 'dive' of greebes.)
After getting a bit lost I made camp next to a canal masquerading as my friend the Tcinio. Low on water and desperately thirsty lowererd myself precariously into the canal bank and collect some water before boiling it. Hot water not exactly cutting the mustard I then rigging up a little device using my ever versatile ball of string that let me cool the newly purified water back in the canal.
Pleased with my ingenuity I sat back and supped my luke warm canal water feeling like a king.
Correcting the navigational miss-step from the day before I left the canal which had been trying to take me to Milan and drifted across country towards Pavia.
Having crossed the Alps with my own elephantine load I spent some time nosing out the supposed site of Hannibal's first battle in the 2nd Punic War. Un-showered since Lucerne, some five days earlier, I was doing a pretty good impression of a barbarian invader myself.
As my father promised Pavia is a lovely northern Italian city and a good place to while away the afternoon.
With the evening drawing in I crossed the Tcinio for the last time and followed her into a nature reserve where I camped at the confluence of the Tcinio and the mighty Po.
Besieged by mosquitoes.
The next day started out with the modest aim of crossing the Po, passing Tortona and following the E62 south into the hopefully cooler Ligurian hills. By 17:00 I had achieved those aims and was enjoying a well deserved beer in the neighborhood of Arquata. But as I set off into the rugged range between me and the coast a though entered my mind. Wouldn't it be nice to see the Mediterranean before I went to bed? (My first sea since the English channel!) Feeling strong (the beer?) and with the palpable sensation that I could already smell the sea air I set off. Unfortunately the hope that as I crested the last hill I would look out over a blue horizon was dashed. From summit to Genoa itself my view was continually obscured forcing me ever onwards down to the city itself.
Determined not to be cheated I rushed on arriving in Italy's busiest port at 21:00 and finally gained not only the sea view I had promised myself but also a glance at the marvelous Genovese waterside frontage where historic Doge's palaces compete side by side with an active modern harbour.
All very nice but not exactly an ideal place to camp. With sun setting I traced the coastline east for an hour while mopeds whipped around me before finally seeing a sign for a campsite. It was to be my first of the trip. Dog tired and pleased at the prospect of a shower I only just has enough energy to resent the 20+ euros asked to pitch my tent.