Our Sunday began shortly after 8 a.m. when we departed our Spoleto apartment for a detour from the usual Way of St. Francis. A 2016 earthquake left the Roman acqueduct unsafe to cross (actually, Sue was relieved she didn’t have to cross the narrow walkway over a deep gorge), so we went downhill and uphill to find the trail across from the fort.
Then the fun began. Two-plus hours of steep uphill. Rocky, narrow, slippery, so tough that we dared not pause for a photo until the path widened. One trekker passed us, saying “I don’t speak English.” He is the only fellow pilgrim we have seen on the trail for three days.
We climbed about 2,100 feet and followed a ridge for hours, pausing for a quick picnic. Lord of the Rings fans would love the dark pine forest, drippy mist and eerie silence. Sue and I loved the Sunday “stroll” up to this point. We even talked about how strong we felt after two weeks walking in Italy.
But the hard part remained. The 2,200 feet of descent would be a test on its own, but the treacherous, rocky, wet footing made most steps a calculation. Sue wondered how she would ever get help if I fell.
At 4:30, we found our isolated hotel and ristorante four miles beyond the bottom of the mountain trail. Four generations of a family live here and run it. A toddler runs around the dining room as we eat our yummy spaghetti carbonara. It is a surreal setting after a day that seems so real every time we move a muscle.