Posts Tagged With: Food

The Way of St. Francis: Surprises lead our way

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A castle tower caught our eye today, but this sculpture made us wonder why it was standing in this trailside field.

Intermittent showers followed us Tuesday on the Way of St. Francis from Montelibretti to Monterotondo, a busy city of 41,000 that makes us feel like we leaped forward hundreds of years.

It is how we got here that is the day’s story. About noon, we turned from a lazy, tree-canopied lane onto a busy two-lane highway where cars zoomed by at motorway speeds. It was a shock after several hours of countryside trekking. Then the rain decided to fall faster too.

A loud noise snapped us back to the future further. Through the drips from our hats, we saw the source: a motorway filled with speeding vehicles. How do we get to the other side, where our apartment awaits? Harder rain confused us until we spotted a yellow stripe painted uphill on a pole to our right. Is that where St. Francis went? It must have been, because after climbing through knee-high weeds over a berm, along a strip of aging asphalt under tree branches that we ducked under, we found bent grasses that told us someone had walked this way.

Down we went until the motorway blocked us again. More bent grass led us down a steep slope along a fence to a rickety, five-foot-long, 18-inch-wide wooden walkway with no railings that crossed a concrete culvert. The rain followed us across, then down farther to a road — and an underpass!

As we walked on a soggy path to Monterontondo, we paused for a selfie. A few twists and crosswalks brought us to salvation: an Italian bar, where a young man and woman made us tall cups of coffee to go with our flaky-crusted berry torte. They worked so hard to make us feel welcome, a trait that helps make this country great in our eyes.

Now I sit in our modern one-bedroom apartment. I hear faint sounds of Italian voices from the apartment above. I sip a glass of wine as Sue prepares our dinner.

The Way of St. Francis is full of surprises. That’s one reason why I want it to last forever.

 

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The Way of St. Francis: Are We There Yet?

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The dawn of a new day found us three days out from our last rest day in Rieti, with just three more days to walk until we reach Rome, our final destination.  Our feet are tired, our hips are sore and barking dogs are getting on our nerves.

But we’re still doing it…uphill and down, along miles of ribbon-thin trails through wet thigh-high grass, trails of sticky, gooey mud and trails so steep they must be paved to keep from washing away…and we are having the time of our lives!

But, there are still miles to go and much to see before we’ll feel lucky enough to relax and truly celebrate.

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The Way of St. Francis: Trattoria Favorita is a Favorite

B & B Piazza Cavour in Rieti has been a perfect place to rest our packs as we ready ourselves for the last 6 days to Rome.  Our corner balcony (one down from the top) overlooked the piazza and was just a short walk across the river to the Historic City Center.

We discovered a great little place to eat this evening, just across the square from our place. It could have been the family atmosphere, but we felt the folks at the aptly named Trattoria Favorita served us one of the best pasta meals of the trip.

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As usual, we were the first to be seated for an early (by Italian standards) evening meal, but Mariannina (left) greeted us warmly, and with limited English, made us feel right at home.  Francesca (a daughter?) was every bit as warm and welcoming and we had a wonderful time pantomiming our conversations.  Lots of smiles, nodding and laughter!  If you have the chance, Trattoria Favorita on Piazza Cavour offers good food, a warm welcome and a comfortable atmosphere.

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The Way of St. Francis: Pizza, pizza, pizza!

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Local Italian culture filled the tiny Pizzeria da Paldo next door to our B&B Thursday night in Rieti. We thought we ordered four pieces of pizza and a salad, but the enthusiastic man behind the counter served up a platter double-stacked with four kinds of pizza and a big plate of ensalada mista. We ate and ate the superb bar pizza while a steady stream of customers walked out with folded pizza pieces to eat on the run. We wrapped up the considerable leftovers, then expected bad news when I asked for the check. It was just 15 euro (about $18), including a large bottle of water. You can’t see them in the photo, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach!

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The Way of St. Francis: Italy at its best

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As I sipped coffee at a bar in Poggio Bustone Wednesday afternoon, Sue wandered down the road a few doors and returned with a dinner invitation. The fellow in the white t-shirt runs the La Laconda Francescana Ristorante and hostel, where he later served us a delicious two-course meal with more wine than we could drink for just 27 euro, about $33. The chef (dad?) was pleased to be part of the after-meal photograph.

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The view as we walked back to our wonderful accommodation, the San Francesco Suite, perched somewhere in this photo of Poggio Bustone. Such a quintessential Italian evening!

 

 

 

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The Way of St. Francis: An Easy Stroll Along The River

After our marathon day yesterday, we spent a leisurely morning, enjoying the hospitality of the folks at 3 Archi Hotel.

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Our day was a short one, just over 6 miles to our next stop in Arrone.  We took one last look back toward the mountains we had scaled yesterday, thankful for our flat, low altitude stroll along the river.

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Just after our lunch stop, we met this gentleman, a Pilgrim from Luxembourg.  Traveling alone, he was eager to stop for a chat and told us he was on his way north to Assisi.  Rather than carrying his belongings, he had a unique towing system, his cart strapped to his belt.  Reg and I wondered how he’d fare on the mountain pass.

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The Way of St. Francis: The trail is closed

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Today we faced a new trekking challenge: a closed trail. Still many miles from our destination, we stood before a sign threatening penalties (arrest?) if we crossed the tape strung across the Way of St. Francis. What should we do? Turn around and go back?

A 15-mile day loomed, so we had set out from Pieve Santo Stefano before 8 this Sunday morning. Today’s trek began with a hill that was only a few hundred feet in elevation, but it was a tough beginning nonetheless. But it was nothing compared to the steep descent over loose rock that was like walking down a rockslide. They call this a trail? My knees were still wobbly when we soon climbed another 800 feet. We found a place to rest our feet and I promptly took a power nap that Sue photographed for the record.

Stunning views of the Tuscan countryside made it all worthwhile. Then we crossed a bridge over a reservoir finger and the Way of St. Francis became a windy country road complete with hot pavement. We found a sliver of shade for a picnic lunch, then continued along the road another couple of miles. Motorcycles, bicycles and cars sped by us. The guidebook and our GPS map told us to take a sharp left onto a gravel trail (no more pavement!). Then we saw it. The closed iron gate across the path, the tape strung next to it, the warning not to pass, the decision.

I looked at our map on Galileo Pro. If we continued on the road, it would take us many miles out of our way. Turning around was not an option, so we lifted the tape after deciding to take a chance. After less than 100 yards, we stopped as we approached a farmhouse. Did we really want to risk a night in jail?

Back on the legal side of the tape, we enlarged the map on my phone and saw a thin white line a half mile down the road that connected to the trail. Was the line a path? Would the trail section it led to be open? We decided to take a chance on the digital map and the white line turned out to be a farm road that led us back to the Way of St. Francis. As luck would have it, we were just past the closed section.

So, relief was the word of this day. We walked atop a levee for several hours, past large  farms. Tractors plowed (even on a Sunday) and the temperature climbed. A short detour allowed us to rest in some shade.

When we finally arrived in the bustling city of Sansepolcro, we found the narrow way where our hotel was supposed to be. Before frustration set in, a tall, thin young man, figuring these two wandering souls wearing backpacks must be the Americans who reserved a room at his hotel, greeted us. He pointed to the hotel sign in the wall. How could we have missed it? It was about two-by-three inches and perfectly readable if you stood less than a foot away.

Our day ended at a wonderful restaurant after a couple of strong beers at a plaza bar.

 

 

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One-two punch: Pleasing pie, roaring river

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Rushing at 410,000 gallons a minute, the Rogue River roared for us today. Our visit to the Rogue Gorge above Medford followed by lunch next door at the rustic Beckie’s Restaurant. The meal was very good, but to be honest, it was just the opening act for Beckie’s legendary pie. We shared pieces of huckleberry and chocolate cream. The community of Union Creek is a popular stop on the way to Crater Lake National Park.

 

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Lake of the Woods Rewards

Our local weather forecast promises a wet week ahead so we took advantage of the sunshine today, grabbed our friends Lan and Jeff and headed for the hills.

Lake of the Woods, about 30 miles east of Ashland, Oregon, is one of our favorite day trips. As we walked along the water’s edge, we were rewarded when swirling clouds revealed a view of the 9,495 foot peak of Mount McLoughlin looming over the Lake.

During warm summer months the waters of Lake of the Woods are alive with boaters, kayakers and children splashing along the shore. Winter months offer a cold and quiet beauty…and (Friday -Sunday) Lake of the Woods Pizzeria, a cozy spot to enjoy the view, an afternoon bite to eat and visit with good friends.

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Monterey Getaway

We packed our bags, loaded our bikes and made a quick getaway Tuesday morning, escaping the smoke filled Oregon skies and daily thumping overhead as the new roof project continues back home. Our destination? Monterey, California where the only things cooler than coastal temps are competing restaurant signs.


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