The sleepy village of Chiusi Della Verna awoke to brilliant sunshine today, Friday. We started with pastry, strong coffee (yum!), tangerines and packaged toast and jam downstairs in the hotel Bellavista, in photos above. Our room’s small window shows a burst of early spring.
We are pausing in this village, dating to the 13th century, to get our time-zone footing before our first steps on the Way of St. Francis on Saturday. The village, at nearly 4,000 feet in Tuscany east of Florence, is dominated by stone buildings with red tile roofs. The monastery and chapel stand on the mountaintop behind us.
We have yet to hear a word of English from the friendly locals, who have smiled with question marks in their eyes when we speak Italianish.
At a tiny market around the corner (most corners here are hairpins), we bought cheese by using our fingers to show how much we wanted. We greeted two wiry Austrians, who carried huge backpacks, as they began another day on their trek from Florence to Rome.
We already have a sense that this is a trail few travel, if we compare it to our other treks in Europe. We shared a restaurant last night with three other hiking couples, including the Austrians we saw this morning. As far as we know, the eight of us make up the pilgrim total here, one of the most important stops on the Way of St. Francis. All appeared beyond working age. We had a nice chat in English with two other Austrians.
Later today, we look forward to visiting the monastery and historic churches, but the stone path will be a steep challenge. Peaceful is the word of the day.