Posts Tagged With: photo

The Way of St. Francis: The End is Near

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Reg blazed another trail through the tall grass and thistle today, our last day of walking through the countryside.  Tomorrow we’ll aim our boots towards Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, a ten mile walk that will officially complete our journey.

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The Way of St. Francis: Escalators to history

 

History is written all over Spoleto and our apartment is within the medieval Umbrian city center. We took a day away from the Way of St. Francis to explore an area where civilization dates to the bronze age.

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An aqueduct and theater helped emperors strengthen their control in Umbria.

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Popes extended their influence here through the 12th century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the 14th century Rocca Albornoziana. The fort still stands guard above the city.

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With the help of many, many euro from the European Union, Spoleto has built an elaborate people-mover system to help old folks like us get up the steep hills. It starts with elevators in hallways behind nondescript entryways around the city. They take you down to one of three escalator lines. Each line offers several landing areas where riders can exit for access to their destinations.

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Unfortunately, we are unlikely to find any more escalators as we resume our mountainous trek to Rome. But, there will be wine, beer and Italian cuisine at the end of each day. We walk 11 out of the next 12 days, with what appears to be the more difficult half ahead. We could blame it on St. Francis, but instead will honor him for laying the groundwork for this great challenge.

 

 

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The Way of St. Francis: Over The Hump

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at our hotel in Trevi so incredibly soaking wet that the owner simply handed us our key. No passports, no check-in, no formalities. Plenty of time for that after showers and hot tea!

We awoke to more rain this morning and grudgingly donned our rain gear as we set out to cross the invisible halfway point on our trail to Rome. By days end, our feet will have taken us 141 miles with 43,742 feet of elevation change throughout our twelve days on the trail.

As the skies cleared, our waterproofs instantly morphed into personal saunas. While Reg changed his clothes trailside, I fashioned my rain pants into a pair capris and we again set off toward our destination – the ancient city of Spoleto.

We’d walked a few hundred yards when Reg suddenly stopped and said, “Oh no! My glasses!”

Sure enough, they were not on his nose where they belonged. A quick about face and we retraced our steps.

How lucky he was that we chose the bike trail route, and that we had it mostly to ourselves…and that his glasses didn’t go flying into the tall grass or we might still be looking for them!

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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: What is it like?

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What is the Way of St. Francis like? After 117 miles in Italy, we have walked on busy highways, country roads, city streets, forest roads, paved farm roads, gravel farm roads, a long levee and wide gravel paths.

We have sometimes had to walk on busy roads because there has been no shoulder. Drivers here do pull over a bit, but it must be a sign of weakness to take their foot off the gas pedal.

On windy, narrow roads, we cross to avoid being on the inside of a blind corner, as Sue did today in Assisi before a white van zoomed around the bend. In cities, roundabouts pose special challenges. Also, drivers do not stop at crosswalks unless you are in the crosswalk.

Our boots have done some trail walking, but that has been a minority of the trek. Some of the trail portions have been in good condition, but considerable parts have been rocky, muddy, or rutted. Trekking poles often come in handy, especially on steep, slippery parts.

Once we were beyond the crazy streets of Assisi, today was relatively relaxing. There wasn’t much traffic, but Sue had to walk on the road next to a guardrail. We far prefer non-paved farm roads and forest roads, when all we have to do is enjoy the scenery — and walk uphill or downhill, most of the time. The Way of St. Francis is rarely flat.

Trekking is not a walk in the park. The challenge is one reason we do it. This trek has scenery to rival any, but our boots and bodies would be happier with less asphalt.

 

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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: Birthday Boy

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After a long day of steep climbs, beautiful views and long descents, we’re celebrating Reg’s birthday at Pinky Bar in Valfabbrica! Cheers!

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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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