Saturday 13, we leave Assisi, our last rest day until we reach Trieste in three weeks, parting company with Maica, who returns to the Philippines, and Sebastien, who returns to France. While waiting for a bus to take us to the train station, Berenice and I talk with Mary, a lady visiting Italy from Seattle, who will now follow the walk on our various blogs. After arriving by train in Perugia, there is a steep hill climb to the bus station where we travel a short distance before more walking into Gubbio, our next stop. Much of the walking recently has been on the Via di Francesca, one of the important pilgrimage routes from Rome. Staying at the church of St. Francis which was built around 1255 inside a vast Franciscan complex built by the residents of Gubbio on the lands of the ancient Spadalonga family. It was this family that in 1206-1207 is said to have taken in and clothed Saint Francis after he abandoned the family home and renounced his wealth, and it was here that the saint wore a habit for the first time, which was to become the outfit of the Franciscans. (Currently Gubbio is entertaining a 3-day hill climb race for race cars -very noisy and polluting.) The evening was rounded off with a communal meal and short film followed by comments from walkers as to why the were taking part in the pilgrimage. Evening meal was followed by a discussion with local people about the walk with input from each of the pilgrims explain their reasons for taking part. (Pictured: with students in Citta di Castello.)
Sunday 14: We say goodbye to Martina and Frederica, FOCSIV volunteers, who had walked with us the previous day as they had to return to work in Rome. With packed lunches we depart in car and van towards Citta di Castello with a final 5km walk into the town. Paulo leaves midday as Guiseppe (known by walkers as Peppe) will now be our driver through Italy. With our hosts in Citta di Castello at the Monastero St. Cecilia, we tour Teatre di Illuminati, adjoining church and an art museum in the old part of the town with guides explaining the history. The evening is spent with local people who learn about our pilgrimage.
Monday 15: Today we walk for 18 km moving from the Umbria region into Tuscany – just for one day before we cross into Emilio Reggio region. The highs are now only in the low to mid 20’s as both mornings and evenings become chillier. Fortunately after 12 days we have experienced no rain to really speak about. We begin the morning with a press conference at the town hall (which adjoins the Cathedral) with a group of senior school students in attendance as we explain the pilgrimage. We are now just 7 walking plus Peppe in the support vehicle. We arrive in Sansopolero about 5 pm for our overnight stop. Before an evening meal with local folks, we are welcomed at the Aboca Museum, the only museum of medical plants which records the millennia old history of the relationship between man and plants: we received a fascinating tour and were gifted creams to keep out feet healthy during the walk. This is followed by a service to commemorate the Rome to Katowice pilgrimage where, besides talks from Yeb and Claudia, Berenice spoke on behalf of the pilgrims. (Pictured above – the group welcomed in Sansopolero)
(At left – Yeb Sano and Claudia Alongi) Tuesday 16: The journey to Forli, a distance of almost 100 km, was completed by four bus journeys as walking through the mountainous terrain would have added at least 5 days to our travels. As happened in 2015 on the pilgrimage from Rome to Paris (60 days) this pilgrimage could not have been completed without FOCSIV’s planning including trains and bus rides to make the journey feasible in the time allowed, especially through mountainous climbs. At our resting place for the night we are interviewed by Laura who writes for a local weekly publication, and I hope to have a link added here soon to her report after it is in print an online.
Wednesday 17: In overcast skies we depart Forli for a 26km walk along a pathway adjacent to the river running to Ravenna. With Sam joining us on his way between London and returning to Hong Kong, we are now 8 walking along flat landscape. Sam was among the pilgrims completing the journey between Rome and Paris in 2015. The rain holds off as we enter Ravenna and find our home for the night – this time floors again. With nothing scheduled we relax, and I take advantage to purchase my second pair of shoes to prepare for the trek beginning in Slovenia November 4 as we begin the crossing of the alps, this time much longer than the 2 day journey on the last pilgrimage to Paris.