Well…I can’t believe today! It was yet another one straight out of the box! Completely unpredictable, we kept our cool when plans disintegrated, suffered greatly walking in intense heat, compromised a little here and there and just when we thought the going may be getting a little tough…even for us…our special guides, remember the ones who are protecting us every inch of the way, emerged from their shadowy depths and glowed brightly leading us to perfect accommodation tonight…..Actually more than perfect, sublime.. and completely within our meagre budget! Then…what a night we had : )
I’ll start at the beginning : )
We were out of our hotel this morning, having breakfast at a little cafe opposite.. at 7.30am. Perfect timing for today’s plans. After studying the maps yesterday we had decided to take the train out of the Lucca suburbs…for a quick five minute trip and walk from there. Today’s walk to our intended destination Fucecchio.. was a big one..over 30 kms and the morning was promising to burst into a hot day. In taking the train we would eliminate roughly 5 kms off our trek, which in essence would make a huge difference at the end of the day. I must say here…we had to get to Fucecchio as there was no suitable accommodation in between. So that was the plan: ) hmmmmmm………
We were down at the station in good time… ready to catch the 8.32 train to our intended destination. All was good : ) Now at this point I must announce to you all one of my many,many failings, one that I’m not proud of and you may wonder how I have managed to walk over 1600 kms with very few mishaps with this particular infliction……. I have NO sense of direction : ( I’m serious..NO sense of direction! Anyway, I checked out the timetable and worked out which way the trains were heading and led Jo and I smuggly into the carriage. Off it sped. As we sat discussing the days walk I was simultaneously studying my map on my iPad when I suddenly realised we were heading in the wrong direction!!! My little blue arrow was speeding off to Cinque Terre….definitely not down south! I nervously said to Jo, ” I think we’re heading in the wrong direction ” , to which she very graciously replied, “I think you’re right.” We bustled off that train at the next stop, 20 mins away and then waited for the next to take us back to Lucca : ) Now….in the meantime on that little scenic ride I decided to check my emails..just to pass the time.. To my horror the hotel we had stayed in at Lucca had emailed me to say that I had forgotten to collect my passport and could I forward them an address that they could send it on to? There was no way I was going to have my passport following me around Italy in the hands of the Italian postal service, so I had no other option but to get off the train at Lucca and run back to the hotel to retrieve my passport : (
Finally, on the 10.39 train, we once again set off from Lucca on our short 5 minute train journey to start our days walk….
Well the walk today…..not very pleasant. It began with a 5 km walk out of Altopascio along a hot suburban road, with lots of heavy traffic. The day was heating and the sweat emitted from our pores was beginning to challenge our perceived idea of our needed water consumption. We have discovered that a bottle of Gatorade, or similar at these times does wonders to rejuvenate our bodies.
Finally we left the road and the VF, for a short while took us along pretty, shaded tracks.
I have to say at this point, there may not be many photos tonight as that last photo took me 10 minutes to load..not good, however I want to get the general story to you and maybe tomorrow I’ll show you a few more photos but to honest…today’s walk was hard slog and the beautiful Tuscan countryside was nowhere to be seen.. until of course we arrived in this paradise : )
Today we walked generally on steamy concrete busy roads, devoid of shade and then when we were greeted thankfully..by smaller off the road lanes, they quickly reverted to parched arid tracks where even lizards lurking under crisp browned leaves..scurried to the safety of the greener grass fed by random water sources.
We finally arrived in Fucecchio, where we had booked rooms for the night in a hostel and immediately collapsed under a huge shady tree, in order to eat the remains of our lunch and also to get our bearings. It was here that we discovered that the recommended pilgrims hostel, where we were booked for the night was off the beaten track, in an opposing direction to where we were heading so we decided to restart the accomadation search : ( Fortunately, our shady tree was metres away from a bar..so in we hobbled for a glass of wine and a rethink. We were keen to stay in the convent in San Miniato but our guide book had provided an incorrect number..so no answer. Our next option was to try local hotels, B&Bs or whatever we could find: ) Absolutely everything was booked!! We couldn’t believe it! However we now are in the busy touristy season in Italy, so booking ahead is going to be a must.
Our luck then changed : ) Jo suddenly found a slightly out of the way ‘farm ‘ for want of a better word, on booking.com, which was on our track but a few kms further on towards Rome…ok with me, so it was booked on the spot! Then we met coincidentally a lovely Canadian guy and his business partner, who offered to drive us the 5 or 6 kms to our accomadation .. We are so thankful..they were such a lovely couple and if ever they get to read my ramblings, I thank them from the bottom of my heart : ) At times it’s a tough act being a pilgrim but when you meet one of these many generous souls, who offer to assist you along the way..it’s a true delight : )
From here, we got lucky!! Our accomodation is amazing… We are staying in a small family run Agriturismo farm. Nothing grand..but wonderful in so many ways…far surpasses most of our stays to date. We have totally spectacular views over Tuscan countryside, we have a pool, our rooms are split level and very spacious, tonight we have been part of their regular Tuesday night local festivities where we sat down to dinner and then danced with 200 of the local Italians in the area…so, so much fun..I’m in heaven : ) …and as I said initially so reasonably priced, it’s wonderful ! I love the way the Italians have welcomed us into their hearts and in most cases, although there are a notable few where we have been sadly excluded, we have been encouraged to engage and participate wholeheartedly in their hospitality.
Ok..bedtime for me..it’s 12.30 here! Way beyond any decent pilgrims bedtime.. We will be up early tomorrow and have a very big day of walking : ( Sorry for the lack of photos..hope you coped alright with just with my ramblings.. : (
Anyway, tomorrow is another day : )
Love Netia X