After a long flight from Vancouver and a brief wait in Amsterdam I arrived bedraggled, elephant ankled and tired in Milan on Friday afternoon. Lucky for me, my friend Roberto was there to meet me, and thanks to his guidance, we were soon installed on a packed and absurdly hot train heading for Fidenza! Fortunately, the windows in the car opened, and the pool of perspiration that had developed under me as we waited for the train to start moving, was partly reabsorbed.
At Fidenza we collected credenziales, the passports required to stay in the Hostels for Pellegrini (pilgrims) form the tourist office and then made our way for the Convento di Frati Cappuccini. I was disappojnted to see that there was no coffee bar, but the wonderful single rooms looking over the garden more than made up for it! What a wonderful place to spend my first night, in perfect peace!
At the hostel in Fidenza we met an intrepid couple from Brussels who are walking to Rome and then! all the way to Jeruselum! They shared their coffee and biscuits with us and described some of what they have experienced so far, which included walking in snow in the St Bernard Pass, and broken ribs from a fall.
Below is the view from my window at the Hostel
Ciao for now...
This morning we were up and on the road by 0630 in order to avoid the heat of the day. It was 25 or 26 degrees, which is pleasant enough for walking, but just warm enough to get burnt if one isn't careful. The first waymark appeared just out of the driveway from the hostel and somehwat surprisingly, they were consistent throughout the day. I had read that the VF is poorly makred and envisioned getting lost right off the mark. We stopped for a delicious cappuccino (actually two because they were so incredibly good) about 1000 and meandered into Medsano by 1300.
I am amazed at how friendly and kind people have been since I arrived yesterday. In Fidenza I was given a Via Francigena sticker by a man at the cathedral and today, a tube of Arnica gel by someone when we walked through their property. Everyone stops to talk, not to me especially, but Roberto chats away as though with them as though they were old friends. Not many people walk on the Via Francigena, so the locals are inevitably curious and impressed that folks actually walk all the way to Roma.
I am paying careful attention to what Roberto tells me and doing my best to learn some basic Itliano, because I will soon be on my own. Sometime in the next few days, Roberto must return home to look after things there. And becuase there aren't many other pilgrims about, I will have to rely on myself enitrely. Not many people seem to speak english...
As you can see from the photos, Italia is truly Bella! I thought Spain was lovely, but I have to say that so far Italy is just as pretty if not more so. If the weather cooperates tomorrow, the views should be spectacular from the big climb ahead.
It is another 20km walk to Sivizzano, a good but steep distance for getting used to walking with a backpack again. With water, I am packing about 12kg, which is about 2kg more than is good for me. But what to get rid of? I will have to think carefully about it....