Assisi…a new (mini) adventure begins : )

Hello!

I’m back : ) Not really an adventure as such this time as my last two blogs have been…but this time more of an indulgence!

I’ve been so interested for such a long time in the Assisi area and on discovering there was a pilgrims route which traversed this region way back in the Middle Ages, I felt compelled to follow my curiosity : ) From what I can gather the traditional route started from Venice…or more realistically from ones front door and ran down through the eastern part of Italy, through Assisi..ending in Roma.
Assisi was very important in this route as it was the birth place and home of Saint Francis.. who was much loved and although he lived only into his early 20’s, his impact was enormous.

My walking buddy Jo and I met this morning in Assisi with much enjoyment..it’s so good to be reunited in an environment where we both share a close bond and passionate interest : )
In Melbourne we attempt to catch up regularly but as we both have close knit families, often other commitments get in the way and time seems to evaporate with life’s day to day activities.

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The small city of Assisi is dedicated to the life and indeed after life, of Francis of Assisi. Everywhere, it seems, his short life is revered. Today, we have spent time.. and tomorrow in fact.. we will spend more time, exploring this absolutely stunning village. There is a palpable spiritualism about this area….and as you are aware if you have read other blogs of mine…I’m not religious in the conventional sense but have a strong attachment to a spiritual world beyond that in which we live…… : )

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Looking back on the beautiful sights of Assisi.

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Jo and I have only a few short days this time to experience a new adventure, so we decided to plan our walk through a small tour company. We will have our luggage transported and our accommodation booked but we are intending to follow part of the Camino de Assisi but also our intention is to walk the most beautiful routes that were important for St Francis de Assisi.

As always, I feel so privileged to be able to experience these special moments that life offers us…
Much more to come tomorrow…I hope : )

Love to all

Netia X

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Posted in Italy....Umbria and Tuscany 2013 | 9 Comments

La Storta to ROMA!!!!

Whoops I just realised that I forgot to post this blog that I wrote last night…must have been all the excitement!

HELLO FROM ROMA !!!!!!!! : )

We really can’t believe it…!!!! After walking an estimated, by the guide books calculation, 2100 kms…we have finally arrived in the simply magnificent city of Roma. We are still pinching ourselves and in reality it won’t be an actuality until tomorrow. Then we will realise that we don’t have to set off at an extraordinary hour in the morning just to beat the heat..we don’t have to search for accommodation and worry about the days food, we wont have to scan maps slavishly and hope that they will point us with dedication to our source, there will no washing that is urgently needed to be swished in a tub and then hung precariously from bedroom windows in order to be dry by the morning light….Tomorrow, will simply be a day of relaxing…….. purrrrrrrrfecto…haha..a little like a kitten languishing in the warmth of a sun filled cosy corner.

We set off this morning at early light.. being not sure of what the walk into Roma was going to bring. Surprisingly, it was not such a problem..the way was relatively safe. There were in most places paths to walk along and only in a few places was it necessary to walk in single file , hugging the kerbs to avoid the passing traffic. The beauty here was….the traffic in to Roma is big city traffic, nothing like we have encountered up until now…. its heavy and slow moving…hehe…a little like some of its residents : )

The walk into Roma.

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The last of the VF countryside vistas for us …

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Haha …welcome to peak hour…something that hasn’t been part of our framework for such a long time!

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We walked through a lovely park as we entered Roma and were very happily presented with a panoramic view of the city…it was about here that the tears started to trickle : )

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With great excitement and anticipation we turned onto Via Ottaviano and walked in a direct line for about 2 kms, towards San Pietro Plaza. I can't begin to describe to you the range of emotions we were experiencing at this moment…..joy, excitement, relief and sadness, just to name a few..

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A few photos of our arrival : )

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It was a strange feeling arriving here in San Pietro Plaza…so many emotions were coursing through our veins….joy, sadness, relief, disbelief…were some of these, just to name a few : ) We felt like calling out to anyone who would care to listen..’We’re here!’ but we were paid very little attention…just a few glances here and there, we’re cast our way. Two ecstatic Australian women, dressed …definitely not to impress : ) but feeling like they had just conquered the world….another little tear is now being shed. I’m only just starting to appreciate myself…our amazing personal achievement : )

Our first task upon arrival, was to collect our Testimoniums from the pilgrims office set within the Vaticans walls. We sat to work out where we had to go and who should stumble upon us but Janet and Elizabeth…they had arrived only yesterday. It was really lovely to see the faces of fellow pilgrims and it was with delight that we learned that they also were off to collect there Testimoniums….and perfectly, they knew exactly where to go!!

A few photos with Janet and Elizabeth and our little walk to collect our certificates.

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Hahaha…: )

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It was hard to wipe those beaming smiles from our faces!

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Here we are holding our precious Testimoniums, with a young Swiss guard, who stands at sentry at the Vatican gates. Being pilgrims, we had privileges to enter the grounds to collect our documents..it was rather special : )

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A well earned celebratory champagne : )

We are staying for the next six nights in an absolutely delightful….small : )…..apartment, owned by a friend of our podiatrist Jason Agosta. First I’d like to thank Jason for giving me Georgies email, so I could make contact with her and have the opportunity to stay in such a fantastic location in Roma but also I would like to thank Jason for the wonderful job he did on fitting our orthotics perfectly..allowing us to have NO feet problems whatsoever , on our pilgrimage from Canterbury. it’s a real credit to his skills!

A few photos of our lodgings in Roma…

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Our little street.

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The entrance.

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Hahah…that’s it!!

Now, I’m not going to go on and on…but I just want to thank Jo for her lovely company and support. Yes, we had our issues..but nothing we couldn’t discuss and sort through. On the whole though, I think we complimented each other well and both brought definite strengths to our little walking partnership. She has been an absolute treasure and I want to thank her for her wit, compassion, organisational skills and warmth.

Well my friends, it’s time for me to go. I feel very sad actually, that this blog is finally ending. It has been a big part of my journey and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to record it through the wonderful use of technology on my little iPad. It’s been a comfort to me that my friends and family in particular, have been able to share a little of it with me and I thank you all for taking the time to read my ramblings.. : ) Oh oh…felling a little emotional again!

Much love and big hugs to all,

Netia X

P.S. Please don’t feel that I am putting any pressure on you because I’m not. However if you intended to donate to wonderful CanTeen and it’s slipped your mind…here’s our donation website, just one last time : )
http://www.everdayhero.com.au/La_Via_Francigena

Posted in La Via francigena | 50 Comments

Campagnano di Roma to La Sorta

Buona Sera : )

Well today was the grand finale! It seemed that the mighty Via Francigena was well aware of this fact, so dealt us all it’s cards in one day…. Let me explain.

The day started beautifully. The morning when we left at 6 am was lovely. Not a cloud in the sky but the air was crisp and the light, crystal clear.

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We walked buoyantly, feeling fresh after we both had a good nights sleep and ready to arrive at the sisters in La Storta in the late morning. We had been warned by Xavier that the way was very confusing in its marking after Formello…so we made a pact between ourselves as we left the hotel, that we would remain vigilant throughout the day….both feeling confident however,as I had the VF clearly marked on my iPad..as you all know. Are you starting to sense where this is leading : (

A few photos of our mornings walk.

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A VF sign set into the road..Now that’s special : )

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We walked into the interesting little village of Formello, about 6 kms down the track..at 7.15am. We were making great time, so we sat in a little cafe and had a coffee and our breakfast.. All was good, we sat for a while watching the locals come and go, just observing…a skill I might add, we have developed to perfection : )

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We had a little wander through this village enjoying the sights before we set off again in earnest.

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It really was a very pleasant morning but before just a few hours had passed, the temperature was starting to climb. It was to our absolute delight that the VF led us down a little track to a gently flowing creek. It didn’t take us long to peel off our sweaty boots and socks and wade indulgently in the freezing waters… an utter treat : )

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Now it was about this time, when the temperature was climbing, that I reached for my beloved hat.
It was with complete shock, that I found it wasn’t hanging patiently, as it always does, on the front of my pouch! I repeat..it wasn’t there! It had been swinging gaily in front of me as we set off..I’m sure of that… but somewhere along the track I had lost it : ( The most obvious place for its departure from my side was at the cafe in Formello, so I pinned my hopes on returning there after we had arrived in La Storta and once again being reunited with it. I spent the next little while walking in silence. After a bit, I laughed with Jo about how I would react when I finally found it. I jokingly planned to wield my nail scissors at it threateningly, until it shrinked into submission ,vowing never to leave my side again…especially in conditions where I am in most need of shelter. Then I planned to soften my approach when it appeared that it may have learned its lesson and we laughed about giving it a good wash, decorating it with sunflowers and parading it proudly, in it’s full glory at the Melbourne Cup this year! We even planned my dress to compliment it : )
The sad truth is though…that special hat is gone…lost.: ( I indeed, went back to that cafe this afternoon but there was no hat it sight. I guess the point of my little story is, each of our precious items in our packs have such special significance to us. We are now carrying ONLY those items that we both feel we specifically need. There’s no excess!! Absolutely everything in our packs we need and use on a day to day basis : ) My hat was special…and I hope the person who may have found it..appreciates it for its fine attributes..It had been my companion for almost 2100 km along the VF and also 800 kms on the Camino de Santiago…. : )

Shortly after the discovery that my hat was lost….WE got lost!!! We still have no idea how this happened…but we were seriously off the track and with the help of my trusty iPad maps I managed to steer us back on course….but dare I say it in the wrong direction, back towards Formello! Jo was very trusting…she’s the guru when it comes to directions and she very encouragingly left it to me to regain our bearings…. : ( I have mentioned before on this blog, that lack of direction is one of my MANY failings and it shone brilliantly today…

Anyway, the long and the short of it is…we arrived finally at La Storta…very tired and very late but exceptionally pleased to be here. The Sisters are simply beautiful, so happy and full of love. They are an exceptionally interesting group of women and it’s wonderful to share their company. As I was writing this blog tonight , they drifted in and out, sitting for a chat here and there..and through very limited language exchange, we managed to share a few stories : )

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Look how BIG I look : )

Well, I must go to bed now. We plan to set off for Roma at about 5.15 am in order to avoid the worst of the traffic. I think it’s only about a 16 km walk…so lots of coffee stops along the way….but I think it may be the only stretch of the VF where I can confidently say this, without a doubt : )

Big, big day tomorrow. It’s completely absurd to even start to fathom its reality…

Night to you all,

Love

Netia XX

Posted in La Via francigena | 9 Comments

Monterosi to Campagnano di Roma

Hello to all!

Well breaking news from us! Finally I can say, without much doubt at all….tomorrow we will have a 23 km walk into La Storta, where we will stay the night at the convent and then the following day we have a 16 km walk to the Vatican…ROMA!!! Can you believe it? I for one can’t. As you know, subconsciously I haven’t been thinking ahead… It’s just been the steady plod of one foot in front of the other, with little else occupying the mind but the day immediately presented to us. However, as always: )… the very near future is becoming a reality and the wonderful city of Roma, is indeed part of that scenario. At this stage I’m a little bewildered about how I feel but in all honesty, we’re not there yet and tomorrow is another day : )

Last night Paolo cooked us pizza for dinner in his wood fired oven. It was truly magnificent!! Delicious! We were little piggies…. : )

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The pizza dough in the making.

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Here we are with Paolo and his lovely wife Magdalena…

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The family’s children with their friends, enjoying the cool waters of the pool. As I mentioned last night, it was lovely to be staying in such a family orientated environment. We were the only house guests but were accepted into the arms of this delightful couple and felt more like part of the family, than anything else.

Just one more photo from yesterday. This little B&B sits on top of original caves built in pre Roman days. Under the house that now stands… inside these caves, you can actually see the original pick marks where someone hacked away into the rock wall, to create a dwelling.

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This morning, Paolo drove us to where we left off yesterday in Monterosi and we set off at about 7.30am for Campagnano di Roma, not quite sure of the distance…possibly only 15 kms but it felt like 115! The way was hot. .. very hot and dusty…..and fairly uninteresting, until we reached Campagnano. This is another fascinating village, again set on a high rock hill jutting out as if into space, towering over the surrounding countryside. The perfect vantage point.

A few photos of our walk today.

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Initially it was quite pretty but quickly the scenery changed : (

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It was quite a struggle today to remain focused but there were special sights which broke the monotony : )

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The village of Campagnano came into view.

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It’s towering walls, as we climbed up the hill were impressive, to say the least.

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The streets of Campagnano…

Here we are finally arriving at our accommodation for the night…about 3 kms out of Campagnano, heading towards Roma : )

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We are staying at Relais Tre Acris, a delightful little hotel, set in a garden of 3 acres. Its a bit of a splurge but we felt it would be special, which it has been. This place is run by a gorgeous young Italian man, Nicolo. He couldn’t be much older than 25 yo but he is polite, efficient and is seriously doing an amazing job but at the same time has a wonderful laid back attitude. It’s really quite incredible. He spent two years in Australia recently and has totally fallen in love with our country. He says he is working so hard so he can fulfil his dream to return to Australia…but as we all know the documentation to live in Australia is very severe. I had shown him some family snaps earlier…as I do to perfect strangers often : ),and I jokingly said, to help alleviate his immigration problems,I could adopt him…to which he shot back, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye….well now that would be good, then I would have 3 lovely sisters : )

Well my friends, two big days ahead of us..in so many ways, so bedtime for me.

Love,

Netia XX

Posted in La Via francigena | 2 Comments

Capranica to Monterosi

Buona Sera : )

We are tired again..I must admit, however today was very pleasant. Our walk to Monterosi..particularly early this morning, was very beautiful…but first i must tell you about our accommodation for tonight!

As you well know, we are planning to take the last few days into Roma..slowly. Almost the opposite to a lot of folk at our stage, who have walked over 2000 kms, as we have done. We want to put a few of the challenges and pressures that the VF has presented us with, in a little box and hurl them over a cliff..then proceed on in a mindful and leisurely fashion, simply enjoying our last days : )
Our next planned stop after Capranica was to be Monterosi….only a 16 km distance via the VF. The big problem was though..we could not find beds anywhere in Monterosi! As I was tapping away on my blog last night, Jo and Paolo were busy making phone calls and searching Internet sites… but to no avail : ( Then clever Jo came up with a perfect solution. Why didn’t we stay here at B&B Monticelli for another night? Happily, dear Paolo agreed to come and pick us up from Monterosi when we arrived and drive us the 15 minute car trip by road, back to his lovely oasis. Perfecto!!!
Tomorrow morning Paolo will drive us back to Monterosi..and our journey will continue : ) It has been a wonderful solution, as this morning we left most of our belongings in Capranica and were able to have a day unemcumbered by a heavy backpack. : )

The walk this morning, as I have already mentioned was really lovely. Coming out of Capranica, there are some confusing VF signs. Paolo , luckily alerted us to the correct path, as indeed was clearly marked on my iPad route but for those of you unaware who are planning to walk the VF,there is a sign not far from the village that points in a completely different direction, to what I imagine is the official route. The marked signage, I would imagine would lead you to Sutri..the next little village..along busy roads, not good.

We elected to disregard this sign however and follow Paolos advice and the route on my iPad , which led us right instead of left : ) It was before long however that another VF sign popped up, that led us on down into a valley, along a very pretty track for about 5 kms. Simply stumnning!!

A few photos…

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This plot of beans..I think.. was most impressive…by no means was it little but every plant had its own intensive infrastructure. So much work initially but such a fantastic idea…I’m going to try it when I return home.

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Jo..having a little rest. What a lovely space to sit for a while!

We arrived in the stunning village of Sutri, which was about 6 kms away..in time to have a coffee and to have a little look around. Sutri is perched on a narrow hill of volcanic ash. As a consequence the base of the town is literally rock and the village has been built into the side of the hill, with it’s pinnacles high above.
Its construction has been melded into the natural structure of the original rock..quite remarkable. It towers above the surrounding countryside, overlooking the province of Lazio in all it’s grandeur. I have not been able to capture these images at all on my camera but I will show you just the few that I took of the village.

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The village piazza.

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The entrance to the amazing Sutri Cathedral.

On walking out of Sutri, we were treated to the most amazing amphitheatre. It is definitely Romanic but I have suspicions that it might date back to the Estruscans era…more investigation needed and more reporting back to you. The thing is, there are points of history here that unfortunately I’m a little sketchy on and I will need to do a little research but it will definitely not happen before I return home to Australia…no time now : ( Unfortunately, by then this blog will be no more….but if I don’t have time for research, please do so yourself..it will be totally fascinating ..I can assure you!

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This amphitheatre has been carved directly into the tuff rock….amazing..Jo and I walked into this amphitheatre and both were immediately struck by a surreal experience. Quite incredible. At the same time we both erupted in a tingling nerve sensation from head to foot…maybe the reminders of lost souls from days gone by..who knows..but it was a highly strange experience!

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Ok… Pretty much my bedtime : ) I feel very happy to be here at our wonderful B&B. I’m sitting in the garden as I write this blog, the cool night air soothing the days aches and pains but more importantly my innate need for family has been catered for by the chatterings of our new Italian friends in the background : ) Children and adults have drifted in and out during the afternoon,affording us the luxury to feel very relaxed …and indeed at home : )

Yawwwwwnnnn…

Night : )

Netia X

Posted in La Via francigena | 3 Comments

Vetralla to Capranica

Hi there everyone!

What a lovely day today…hmmmm….the roller coaster ride seems to be an emerging pattern…hope tomorrow doesn’t follow in the sequence!!

Last night we stayed in the B&B Il Mio Postre Tranquillo in Vetralla. We are finding the B&Bs have been amazing over the past 3 nights. The wonderful thing is, for 25 euros each (this would be even cheaper for a couple sharing) we have been able to secure our own bedrooms and most times bathroom but more importantly a communal area has been provided, where we have been able to relax and make a cup of tea, prepare a little food and today, we even had the use of a washing machine!! And yes, I do remember how to use one : ) Every article of clothing was pulled from my body and that backpack today and thrown into the belly of that machine. It was with great joy that I removed my clean clothing 30 minutes later and then had the added luxury of hanging it on a line in the sunshine : ) Tonight, my few possessions have been lovingly folded and slipped back into there little house, smelling sweetly of fresh air and lavender …. You have NO idea how satisfying this simple act has been : )

Today we arrived at our B&B in Capranica quite early. We only had about a 16 km walk and as we had left Vetralla at 6am….after stops beside the road to eat our breakfast of cheese, ham and tomato rolls and then another coffee stop on arriving in Capranica, we were at B&B Monticelli by 11.30am. Perfecto!!! Our host Paolo, was very kind and picked us up from a nearby supermarket in order to show us the way and also we happily noted, that we were able to avoid a very steep climb to his B&B : ) Two other wonderful things about this lovely place is that it is directly on the VF and it has a SWIMMING POOL! Yay!!

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Haha..very funny photo : ( but Jo made me include it…see I told you she was VERY BOSSY….or I may have said a tiny bit bossy..can’t remember. Anyway this is a rare photo of an unaware pilgrim, snapped by another pilgrim : ( … being tranquilly lulled into a gentle state of being ….with only the pool waters lapping at the mattress edges and the distant chattering of birds , to break the silence….. : )

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The gardens of Monticelli

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A lovely view looking back from the gardens of B&B Monticelli to the township of Capranica.

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After a swim, shower, washing and a little lie down, we sat down to a yummy lunch in a lovely shady spot in the garden : ) Can you hear me sighing blissfully?

Our walk today was also perfect…how much better can life get!

A few photos….

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The sky this morning was very beautiful as walked out of Vetralla.

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One of the little friends I regularly seem to find to chat to along the way : ) He’s so handsome!!

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The path today was very pretty…if not a little obscure in parts but with my GPS route on my iPad, all was perfectly fine : )

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The walk today for quite a large part, took us alongside hazlenut groves and for a bit, directly through them…. this proved to be a little confusing at times, although extremely pleasant. However unbelievably we came across a little entity, who literally showed us the way….it was delightful..if not a little strange…

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We literally stumbled across this little guy in the middle of a confusing maze of hazlenut groves. He approached us, wagging his little tail and then set off a little ahead..every now and then looking back and waiting for us. We dutifully followed, laughing and remarking how sweet he was…but goodness knows what made us follow. The remarkable thing was…about 2 rows of trees back from the road that we were trying to find, he sat and refused to go any further. It was if he was bidding us farewell and we laughed that it was almost as if he was calling out to us Buon Camino!! It was all a little strange… and his presence made my skin tingle a little… Hmmmmmm…… : )

Ok..just a couple more photos …

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The entry to the very beautiful village of Capricana. I’m continually amazed by many of these villages. As we near Roma, suburbia is starting to creep in and these little villages are engulfed by sprawling, ugly housing. However, one only has to pass through an ancient archway in many cases and a hidden world of days gone by is exposed.

Ok….we have had a LOT of difficulty finding accommodation tomorrow night in Monterosi..our next stop.. just 15 kms from here…but we have worked out a very favourable alternative..which I will tell you about tomorrow…as I KNOW I will have Internet access : ) Tomorrow, our little roller coaster carriage is still on that wonderful downhill run : )

Night from me..

Much Love,

Netia XX

Posted in La Via francigena | 1 Comment

Viterbo to Vetralla

Hi there,

Well…. the roller coaster ride continues : )

Today started off full of promise. We were well rested from a lovely day before,up early and out the door by 6am and the morning to top it off, was beautiful. There was a coolness in the air that caressed our skin, with a promise that the morning heat may be kind to us and we would maybe reach our destination before the inferno of the day cast us down in a sodden pool of sweat. Hmmmm….. sadly not the case.

Just quickly though before I continue, the term ‘ well rested ‘ probably can’t be applied to us anymore : ) The vast kilometres that we have travelled are now starting to snake their network of lanes, dusty roads and overgrown paths into our souls ….and we’re without mistake…very tired. It’s strange here though, still my mind is not allowing me to think too far ahead. Even though in reality we are only a few sort days away from our goal…..
The problem here though, is we are now, so highly tuned to our immediate environment that we are tending to manifest even the slightest of changes…both good and bad. Strangely, I can feel the pull but my psyche..quite luckily is remaining positive : )

First though, I want to introduce you all to a delightful gentleman that I met last night : )

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Do I here mutters of agreement? : )

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Some of the very interesting architecture of this beautiful town of Viterbo.

In contrast, Vetralla…has an air of one that is defeated. There’s a certain melancholy about this town that is palpable. For me it is lifeless, there are those going about their daily chores…. but it lacks the energy and vibrancy, that was Viterbo.
Our walk early today was just great : ) We travelled for quite a few kilometres, along tranquil roads flanked by towering rocks…very, very special. Our less than scanty notes now, have no reference to their significance, if any but I feel sure they herald from Roman origin.

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A few more photos before our day, especially Jo’s..fell apart : (

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We spotted this ‘person’ in a passing field…and for a while were a little unsure whether it was someone practicing a little street theatre! I was so convinced, I took backward glances to see if the eyes were following me….

Ok..after this point plans went astray.. We stopped by a pile of rubbish …the only piece of shade that we had come across for quite a few kilometres as we needed some food and rested our packs on the side of a dumped fridge : ) All was good!

However as I was munching on my apple,Jo decided to amble on ahead and the plan was that I would catch up…hmmmmmm…. The problem in this particular area of Italy is, the VFsigns are very confusing! Before long Jo was heading along a completely different VF track to me that was ambiguous and misleading…so frustrating and tiring for her. She arrived in Vetralla, a lot later than me and was quite disturbed by her day, in the end : (

For me the way also was tough..but at least I had the correct route on my iPad. Even then, I had some difficulty with some areas and had to do quite a bit of back tracking.

Bearing all of this in mind..I might just show you a couple of photos and then head off to bed.

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A lovely lovely old olive orchard, followed by an apricot grove.. I came away with a huge handful of freshly picked apricots, direct from the tree….fantastico!

I’m tired….once again : )

Life is good though…. : ) Enjoy what you have to the utmost!

Love and hugs,

Netia XX

Posted in La Via francigena | 3 Comments