Here’s a bucket list item for you!

Admiration, astonishment, envy, or just utter disbelief.  The quest just begun by Italian hiker and grandmother Vienna Cammarota might inspire any or all of these feelings.

As reported in several news sources this week, Vienna Cammarota left Venice on Tuesday (April 26, 2022) to begin her planned walk of Marco Polo’s Silk Road.  To be clear, this is a 22,000 kms (13,670 miles) route that goes through 15 countries, starting in Venice and ending in Beijing. To be even clearer, Ms. Cammarota is 72 years old.  OK, it’s true that she’s 4 years younger than I am – a mere stripling – but, wow! This is where the admiration, astonishment, envy, and utter disbelief start to kick in!

Vienna will be carrying Italian and Ukrainian flags with her as she makes this trek, which she has called a Walk for Peace, attempting to encourage understanding and peace among people as she travels from West to East.  As a veteran hiker (thank goodness for that at least), Ms. Cammarota has explained that one of the things she enjoys about hiking in different parts of the world is getting to know the people and their customs and culture.  She enjoys stopping and making personal connections on her treks; one way she will be doing this is by seeking out host families along the way, learning the hosts’ stories and making her connections as meaningful as possible. More admiration.

ViennaCammarota-profile

In her planning, her schedule includes non-walking time to stop and get to know people, but the mind still boggles at the distances she’s hoping to cover. She is expecting to take 3 and a half years to complete her journey, arriving in Beijing in December 2025, at which time she’ll just be a year younger than I am now!! By my calculations, to cover 22,000 kms in 3.5 years, she’ll have to cover an average of just over 17 kms each and every day. For 1280 days. Including any down time. More astonishment and utter disbelief.

This admirable woman has previously undertaken lengthy walks through countries as far-flung as Madagascar, Patagonia, Israel, Palestine, Tibet, and of course Italy. She’s ready for this Walk of Peace, or at least as ready as she can be. She has her backpack, her camera, and an app on her phone that connects her to a medical service that can monitor her health. Of course, she’ll be encountering a wide range of terrain and also wide-ranging temperature variations, from the heat and dryness of the Middle East to the biting cold of Mongolia. Face it, the challenges are many and enormous, over and above the challenge of just being able to keep walking.

Cammarota points to Goethe and Marco Polo as her inspiration for this journey.  Goethe traveled throughout Italy way back in 1786-88 and then returned to Germany, where he published his travel diaries, which became very popular.  Marco Polo’s travels started long before that (500 full years before) and were, of course, far more extensive.  However, his travels were not done primarily on foot; he was more into horses, caravans, and having a retinue around him. Polo set off from his hometown of Venice in 1271 at the age of 17 and spent the next 24 years traveling (and establishing merchant routes) in Asia.  He actually spent 17 full years in China; I don’t think that is part of Vienna Cammarota’s plan!

Marco Polo traveling in a caravan, illustration from the Catalan Atlas (1375), in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France. MarcoPoloCaravanMarcoPoloMap

For the record, Cammarota’s route will see her cross into Slovenia from northern Italy, and then move slowly but surely through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and, of course, China.  She should celebrate her 75th birthday somewhere in Mongolia or China.

Vienna Cammarota’s proposed route is shown by the dotted line in the map below.
Vienna-Map

Personally, I am blown away by Ms. Cammarota’s spirit, sense of purpose, and can-do attitude. Along with wishing her safe passage and many serendipitous experiences along the way, let’s all fervently hope that the message she carries with her on this Walk of Peace produces the peace the world so desperately needs.

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42 Responses to Here’s a bucket list item for you!

  1. da-AL says:

    great story! tx for sharing 🙂

  2. dfolstad58 says:

    I liked your maps and love your interesting share about this lady’s trek and purpose. Was it her idea or her husband’s ? Just kidding but 3.5 years is a long long time and sort of mind boggling. Some people hesitate to take a thick book out of the library to read! I feel like such a slacker about walking reading this though. I like a few kilometres, sidewalk cafe or a bench – pretty tame in comparison. I also am listening to Sirius XM or podcasts unless I have company. Marco Polo’s life is amazing also, and I liked reading what you shared about him. Thanks for interesting post, it just intrigues me to learn more! and go for a walk. – David ♥

  3. candidkay says:

    Wow–I’m blown away too! I love her spirit–knows no age:).

  4. That’s awesome! And I didn’t know that about Goethe.

  5. Inkplume says:

    I love stories about inspirational people like this one! Wishing her health and safety on her travels.

  6. Wow, that is inspiring! I hope she reaches her destination.

  7. Wynne Leon says:

    Holy smokes – that is amazing. I love all the detail you provided about the trip – you know how to amp up the inspiration!! Thanks, Jane for such a delightful and uplifting post!

  8. heimdalco says:

    FANTASTIC POST! My admiration for Ms. Cammarota is totally off the scale … for her vision, her mission, her endeavor in the name of peace, & especially her spunk. When I speak at seminars about breast cancer I always end with this message to my audience & it seems at least partially fitting in my awe of this woman who is ageless in mind, body & spirit …. “We never know what we can do until we try (and we never know how strong we are until we HAVE to be.)” I will think about her for a very long time.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      What a nice comment, Linda. I’ll see if we can catch up with her progress from time to time. I can’t really conceive of starting a journey of this magnitude … at any age.

      • heimdalco says:

        I would love to know how she is progressing. And I can’t imagine that journey, either. There are days that the trip to the mailbox at the end of the driveway seems like 10 miles & I’m not wearing a loaded backpack … She is amazing

  9. She’s an example for the rest of us!

  10. Bernie says:

    Wow that’s quite the undertaking and that doesn’t even factor in her age. Then it’s like whoa. I did note she is a grandmother– I could not give up my grandkids for that long. Perhaps hers are older and not involved in her life much. No support team at all. Astonishing and as someone else said. Too big for my bucket list. Bernie

  11. Rose says:

    Wow what an inspiration!! It certainly has me looking around to see in what ways I can add Peace to the world. And as Julia said, “Bless these courageous souls who give their all on behalf of others”!

  12. boblorentson says:

    Absolutely amazing! I got a leg cramp just reading this.

  13. LA says:

    Wow!! That’s awesome!!

  14. Roy McCarthy says:

    Crikey. At least she’s well prepared and has no illusions. Not like the type who wake up in the morning and declare they’re going to row the Atlantic or climb Everest next week. A fair wind to her.

  15. Impressive! Holy cats, I’m filled with admiration for Ms. Cammarota. I, too, wish her safe passage and many wonderful experiences to savor and record.

  16. Oh my—this endeavor makes my daughter’s 2,200-mile trek along the Appalachian Trail look like a day hike. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story. It is reminiscent of Peace Pilgrim, who was the first woman to hike the entire AT. She then walked across America for 28 years sharing a message of peace. She was on her seventh lap when she took her final trip home to meet her maker. Bless these courageous souls who give their all on behalf of others. And yes, admiration, astonishment, envy, or just utter disbelief. Wow.

    • Roy McCarthy says:

      Wow I must look that up Julia. Best wishes to your daughter on the AT, I just watched a vlog covering that little journey.

      • Thank you! As I recall, Peace Pilgrim went on her journey pretty much empty handed and was supported all along her way by the kindness of strangers. Her story is amazing—definitely worth a visit to Wikipedia, or a look at her book, Peace Pilgrim. What an inspiration!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      What a wonderful story about the Peace Pilgrim. I don’t know her story, I’ll have to look into it. Congrats to your daughter. I’ve had some friends who have completed the AT, but they’ve done it in stages. It’s an amazing challenge in itself; the AT ends just a few hundred miles southwest of us.

  17. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    To big for my bucket but certainly amazing.

  18. Wow, incredible for anyone to attempt that such a hike and more especially in todays tense political climate. I certainly wish her well and good luck.

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