The red line has led us through trials and celebrations, more medieval villages than we can count, and memorable meetings with gracious Italians brimming with enthusiasm. We have met friendly and fascinating fellow trekkers, but many days we have not seen even one. We have yet to meet another American walker. We have not talked to anyone going as far as we hope to go.
How far have we come? After 20 days of trekking on the Way of St. Francis, we have come 226 miles with our backpacks (and many more exploring places without them, especially on rest days). More than 71,000 feet of elevation change, including 6,000 on Sunday. The steepness has been a surprise — there have been times it has been so steep that it has been difficult to stand when we stopped to take a breath.
A few scenes from the past two days:
The bridge carrying highway travelers reminds us Rome is near, but the trail quickly takes us back into remote places.
The guidebook today said to turn left at the fountain and two pine trees, but for us it was time for lunch.
We are staying Monday in Montelibretti, barely visible from its mountaintop perch.
The Way of St. Francis is unique and especially tough, but it shares one characteristic with the other long treks we have done: the closer we get to finishing, the more we don’t want it to end.