Posts Tagged With: hiking

The Way of St. Francis: Spello Spelled Fun

The charming hilltop town of Spello stands guard over acres and acres of olive trees that the Angelini family (pictured above) is passionate about. We would also learn of their passion for wine.

Yesterday our path took us through the olive groves on our way to what would be a delightful and educational dinner at Enoteca Properzio, located in the heart of Spello. Based on the recommendation of a fellow English-speaking tourist, we sat ourselves down at a table outside.

Questions about wine quickly brought the owner’s son to our table, and gosh, what a charmer he was! Oozing enthusiasm, he explained that he had recently returned from three months in the U.S. where he’d been wine tasting. His English was quite good and he was very knowledgeable about local wines and the olive oil the family makes. Then his father came over to shake our hands. Before we knew what was happening, we each had a glass of local white wine and a mouthwatering plate of bruschetta in front of us, dripping with their best olive oil. We were beginning to feel like family!

When I suggested a photo, Mr. Angelini broke into a smile, grabbed my hand as we ran to the front of the store where we all posed for what will be a special memory for us.

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The Way of St. Francis: The Way to Assisi

The Way of St. Francis led us into Assisi yesterday, our ninth day of walking. We’ve covered 109 miles and endured 37,046 feet of elevation change. While the above photo appears to show a pleasant downhill stroll, in reality our day began and ended with steep climbs. All a distant memory today as we enjoy the sites of this beautiful city.

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The Way of St. Francis: What Keeps Us Going?

There’s no doubt this is a difficult Pilgrimage, filled with highs and lows of all kinds. Yesterday we arrived at our hotel so wiped out that we couldn’t help but question the wisdom of walking The Way of St. Francis.

So, what keeps us going? Mornings like this one! When I asked at our hotel breakfast if it would be okay to take a photo, everyone jumped up, eager to pose and to get photos of their own. Instant camaraderie! We even got a blessing of sorts from the nun who was sharing our table. That just might come in handy in the days to come.

We met this adventurous Canadian couple at dinner several nights ago and have seen them on the trail several times over the last few days. They are incredibly fast walkers, but slowed down long enough this morning to join our breakfast club.

Vito is another strong walker who calls Milan home. As we ate our lunch trailside yesterday, he came striding around bend, stopping to chat for a moment. We were able to wish him a “Buon Cammino” this morning as he set a fast pace out of town.

Tonight we find ourselves in the beautiful town of Assisi. More about that later!

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The Way of St. Francis: Which Way Do We Go?

We’re always a little unsure of finding our way when we begin a distance trail. With so many trails converging from La Verna (where we began) and leading to Assisi, markers can be a little confusing…

Armed with our guidebook, and for the first time, a satellite trail map to follow with Galileo Pro, we set off with a fair measure of confidence, on the lookout for the red and white stripes.

Exactly one week ago, we stepped through this rickety gate, passing the first trail marker which would lead us along The Way of St. Francis.

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The Way of St. Francis: Hanging Out In Gubbio

We were afraid we’d miss touring the Basilica of St. Ulbaldo, perched high above the city of Gubbio. On our rest day we had no intention of conquering another peak on foot. However, when an alternative presented itself, we were first in line to hop aboard!

Seemingly hanging from a thread, the baskets of the Funivia Colle Eletto (or cableway) whisked us to the top of the mountain with only a mild case of sweaty palms.

I managed to loosen my grip long enough to take this photo…notice the dog calmly enjoying the ride along with the rest of us.

The views at the top were spectacular!

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The Way of St. Francis: Wildflowers Are Blooming

Spring is in full bloom on The Way of St. Francis.

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The Way of St. Francis: Italian Trekkers Lift our Spirits

Fresh from a wonderful stay at Le Rasse Country House, just outside of Citerna, we joined fellow Italian trekkers for a quick photo before setting out on our rather grueling (see last post) day of ups and downs. We’d see them several more times throughout the day.

A herd of cattle paused briefly when we interrupted their lunch.

The city of Città di Castella spread out below us, creating quite a contrast to the farms and forests of the last few days.

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The Way of St. Francis: Snapshots of Our Day

Our journey today was a short on miles but the change of scenery could not have been greater. After a leisurely breakfast, we left the bustling city of Sansepolcro behind. With just eight miles ahead of us, we set our compass towards Citerna, a quaint village perched atop surrounding valleys.

A quick stop for that energizing second cup of coffee found us sharing the bar with local farmers.

The village of Citerna dominated the skyline and guided us up.

We shared refreshments and conversation with a pair of fellow trekkers, Federico and Kasia, before heading downhill to our lodging for the night.

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The Way of St. Francis: Ups and Downs on Day One

Pieve Santo Stefano was our destination today, an easy stage according to our guidebook. And I guess it wasn’t too bad, although we did climb 1,700 feet before arriving at this lush green meadow.

The meadow was irresistible and knowing that our feet were not yet trail tough, we enjoyed a snack and the view, sans shoes and socks, while we recharged body, mind and spirit.

Eventually, far below us, Pieve Santo Stefano came into view. It was a good day…a quiet day. We saw just two bicyclists and three other picnicking walkers during our eleven mile/six hour day. The Hotel Santo Stefano has been a good choice for these two weary Pilgrims.

Tomorrow we lace up our boots and tackle a more challenging walk to Sansepolcro.

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The Way of St. Francis: Packed and Ready to Go

Ready or not, we’re off to Italy where we’ll begin The Way of St. Francis, a pilgrimage that traces the pathway traveled by St. Francis of Assisi in the early 13th century.

Our journey begins in the eastern portion of central Tuscany in Chiusi Della Verna, a small community located below Santaurio (Sanctuary) Della Verna. It was in this area that St. Francis is said to have received the stigmata. We’ve allowed two nights here to explore the history and beauty of the region…and to catch our breath after what promises to be two pretty hectic travel days.

Then we start walking, traveling mostly southward, with a goal of reaching Vatican City (not quite 300 miles away) by mid-May.

Many thanks to Sandy Brown for allowing me to use the above map, his incredibly detailed trekking guide, the links and foolproof instructions for downloading the GPX tracks onto my phone app and for hosting the Way of St Francis (Official Group) Facebook page. The information is invaluable!

As always, we will post on our blog when we’re able, so feel free to follow along on our journey as we walk The Way of St. Francis.

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