Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Ciao! This blog entry today comes courtesy of a kindly health food store operator who has unlocked his Wifi so that I could do my thing! Grazie mille Luca from Ira Di Bio!!
It turns out I wasn't on my own at the conventi last night. A cyclist and two backpackers showed up about 7:00 pm, which was nice as I wasn't that keen on being in the building all by myself. It is a great thing that these religious buildings are being put to some use; clearly, the call to the church is not being heard by young people today and there is little need for monasteries or convents. They are a perfect refuge, however, for pilgrims such as myself. I suppose I am not a pilgrim in the sense of a religious quest, but it is a pilgrimage of sorts. A chance to step back from life and reflect on how one is living life and to consider what is truly important. For me yesterday, it was rest.
I was very grateful for my little room at the conventi, happily in my bed by 9:00 pm out like a light until 05:30 this morning. When I awoke, I felt fully rested and by 0600 I was fed, watered and out the door with a little spring in my step. This is a good thing because I had another major climb ahead of me. It is amazing how quickly things can change as you walk; you just don't know what is around the next corner. When I left Berceto it was it was a pleasant June morning with sun and light airs, but by the time I got to the top of the Cisa Pass just over an hour later, it was blowing about 30 knots, the fog had begun to close in around me and I was freezing and wet in my T-shirt!
Then, just as quickly, I found myself back in the woods, no sound of wind and the sun filtering through the trees. It's kind of a nice metaphor for life, I think. This too, will pass.
After the Cisa Pass, I followed an alternate secondary road for the most part today that was easier under foot, but just as long as the footpath. The views were fabulous once again, and I enjoyed the solitude of being on my own. I was glad that I had stocked with food yesterday, as it was probably 1230 before I came across an open bar, and then when I went in and ordered a cappuccino, I was glad that wasn't hungry. The proprietress was busy plucking highly unappetizing looking wieners out of a plastic bag. Clearly the food there would not be the best.
By 2:30pm and 29km later, I was in Pontrremoli. It is a fairly big town, with lots of very old buildings, but perhaps lacking some charm or at least a friendly feeling. I looked in vain for any of the three conventis advertised in my guide until I happened on a priest, who gave me directions to the Conventi of Padre Pio where I am now. The lovely little Padri who signed me in, gave me a nice tot of some kind of herbal liqueur when I arrived and then a tour of all the display cases containing the Padre Pio regalia they have here, including several pairs of his wooly socks, his robes, various handkerchiefs and yes, something stained with his blood. Excellent. Padre Pio wasn't your average priest though; if memory serves me correctly, he healed quite a folks during his life, including some with leprosy. I don't think the Padre achieved saint status (miracle required), but he wasn't too far off. I am hoping he can work a little of his magic on my feet tonight; today's walk generated a couple of blisters, probably due to the fact that my feet got wet this morning.
Tomorrow is a 32 km day and at the moment the weather isn't looking too promising. Still, no matter what it does, it will be a great day. This is after all, Bella Italia.