The Italian Almanac

lonely walker

Italian News - April 5

Keen to show that young people don't have a monopoly on sporting achievement, a retired mechanic from a village in northern Italy is about to walk across America. Giambattista Marchesi, 63, intends to take a 6,000-km route from Miami in the southeastern state of Florida to Portland, Oregan in the northwest.

He left Italy on Tuesday on a flight bound for Florida, where one of his sponsors was waiting with the camper van that will accompany the grey-haired trekker from the Atlantic to the Pacific. "I'll have to be away about three months, in all. And I reckon I'll do an average of 70 km a day," Marchesi told reporters before leaving his wife and two grown-up sons at Milan's Linate airport.

A former cross-country skier with four national titles to his credit, he has always led a physically active life. Since retiring he has continued to train hard, mostly with long marches through the mountains near his home in northern Lombardy. In 2005, he walked over 4,000 km from his village of Sedrina to North Cape, the northernmost tip of Europe, right at the top of Norway.

Marchesi will follow America's country roads - crossing the Mississippi, the central plains and the Rocky mountains - in the company of two old friends. One, aged 59, will follow him on a bicycle and the other, aged 63, will drive the camper van.

His family was not invited on the adventure.