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Live from Via Francigena Arrivederci Valle D'Aosta

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kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
London to Rome

Excerpt from group email sent 12 May...
(I am now in Mortara)
I've included some practical info in an additional 'Live from the VF' posting.


Day 46 walking
1179 km
Ivrea, Italy

I've crossed two borders since my last instalment & am now walking the fourth country of this trip. My enforced (but willingly taken) rest in Besançon worked its magic & I re-started feeling fit, well & eager to see what wonders lay ahead. And wonders there has been. The scenery...wow. The contrasts from France, Switzerland & now Italy defy description.
I've had no further problems with my shin & no problems at all with my knees.

My introduction to Switzerland this time was gentle; hills & small mountains (up to approx 1200m). It was an overcast day descending to an agricultural plain (more canola fields...) when a photo opportunity presented itself. A church spire rose in the gap between hills as the valley widened & clouds provided the background. Clouds? They weren't clouds...they were mountains! Huge, snow covered mountains. A few contributions to the Swear Jar later & I was just as gobsmacked. Weeks & weeks of flat France & now a wall, although still somewhat distant, of mountains. It was just as startling today as sadly, I left the Aosta Valley (which I really loved) here in northern Italy & for the first time in two weeks, there was open sky in front of me.

The magnificent, jaw dropping, staggeringly beautiful mountains are now behind me. They certainly presented me with challenges; the weather (including snow to low elevations & still falling daily), trail conditions (slippery, muddy, downed trees, etc) but most of all, my balance disorder. I had many dizzy-shaking-jelly-legs episodes. It really tested me on occasions especially being on my own & knowing not a soul on earth knew my exact whereabouts (just a general geographical location ie; my nightly destination) if I fell. My balance disorder means I am the most awkward & least sure-footed person on the planet. I can walk across an entire foreign country but a two metre section of track can stop me in mine (tracks).

Great St Bernard Pass is the highest elevation of the Via Francigena. Its also considered the half way point even though technically it isn't as that hallmark has already passed. Making the trek up was completely out of the question. Too much snow & still falling. I knew before I left home it was unlikely I'd be able to get up there..first week of May is around a month too early..so I wasn't disappointed at all. For many it is The Highlight of the whole VF & they go to quite extraordinary lengths to reach it but I never viewed it that way. If I did, I would have made the trip at a different time of year. For me its the whole journey so I tend not to place emphasis on individual aspects. As I have right from the beginning, I'm still very much going my own way & when I think of all I've seen & experienced because I walked it now, I wouldn't change a thing.

So, it was the Tunnel option for me & the border between Switzerland & Italy is crossed while under the mountain.
Ah, Italy...how lovely to be here again & even better, this particular area is new territory for me. The Aosta Valley was mesmerising...I often just stood & stared at the splendour around me. The geography means trail options are mostly limited to the 'official' or guidebook version so I gave my 'self-navigation' a rest & followed the now suddenly remarkably frequent signage & other markers.
I still have about 5 weeks walking to reach Rome...& I will make it. The time left is going to fly; I want to savour & enjoy every moment.

Andiamo!
👣 🌏 🎒 👟
 
Last edited:

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
Great to hear your news!
Thanks Bradypus...I know you're underway with your Japan & Australia trip so hope its going well. Enjoy. I'll watch out for any postings you may do. Take care & happy trails!
👣 🌏
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
@kazrobbo It might amuse you to know that the first few km today were through mikan groves and I bought a couple from an honesty box stall at the side of the path :)
View attachment 57451
😄 Love it! 🍊 Enjoy them, sticky fingers & all! Yuzu are actually my favourite...they're like velvet on the inside 😋 Any cherry blossoms still in bloom? 🌸 Gambatte ♨ 🏯 ⛩
 
Last edited:

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
London to Rome

Excerpt from group email sent 12 May...
(I am now in Mortara)
I've included some practical info in an additional 'Live from the VF' posting.


Day 46 walking
1179 km
Ivrea, Italy

I've crossed two borders since my last instalment & am now walking the fourth country of this trip. My enforced (but willingly taken) rest in Besançon worked its magic & I re-started feeling fit, well & eager to see what wonders lay ahead. And wonders there has been. The scenery...wow. The contrasts from France, Switzerland & now Italy defy description.
I've had no further problems with my shin & no problems at all with my knees.

My introduction to Switzerland this time was gentle; hills & small mountains (up to approx 1200m). It was an overcast day descending to an agricultural plain (more canola fields...) when a photo opportunity presented itself. A church spire rose in the gap between hills as the valley widened & clouds provided the background. Clouds? They weren't clouds...they were mountains! Huge, snow covered mountains. A few contributions to the Swear Jar later & I was just as gobsmacked. Weeks & weeks of flat France & now a wall, although still somewhat distant, of mountains. It was just as startling today as sadly, I left the Aosta Valley (which I really loved) here in northern Italy & for the first time in two weeks, there was open sky in front of me.

The magnificent, jaw dropping, staggeringly beautiful mountains are now behind me. They certainly presented me with challenges; the weather (including snow to low elevations & still falling daily), trail conditions (slippery, muddy, downed trees, etc) but most of all, my balance disorder. I had many dizzy-shaking-jelly-legs episodes. It really tested me on occasions especially being on my own & knowing not a soul on earth knew my exact whereabouts (just a general geographical location ie; my nightly destination) if I fell. My balance disorder means I am the most awkward & least sure-footed person on the planet. I can walk across an entire foreign country but a two metre section of track can stop me in mine (tracks).

Great St Bernard Pass is the highest elevation of the Via Francigena. Its also considered the half way point even though technically it isn't as that hallmark has already passed. Making the trek up was completely out of the question. Too much snow & still falling. I knew before I left home it was unlikely I'd be able to get up there..first week of May is around a month too early..so I wasn't disappointed at all. For many it is The Highlight of the whole VF & they go to quite extraordinary lengths to reach it but I never viewed it that way. If I did, I would have made the trip at a different time of year. For me its the whole journey so I tend not to place emphasis on individual aspects. As I have right from the beginning, I'm still very much going my own way & when I think of all I've seen & experienced because I walked it now, I wouldn't change a thing.

So, it was the Tunnel option for me & the border between Switzerland & Italy is crossed while under the mountain.
Ah, Italy...how lovely to be here again & even better, this particular area is new territory for me. The Aosta Valley was mesmerising...I often just stood & stared at the splendour around me. The geography means trail options are mostly limited to the 'official' or guidebook version so I gave my 'self-navigation' a rest & followed the now suddenly remarkably frequent signage & other markers.
I still have about 5 weeks walking to reach Rome...& I will make it. The time left is going to fly; I want to savour & enjoy every moment.

Andiamo!
👣 🌏 🎒 👟
What an inspiring update. Amazing!
 

Slow guy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013
Le Puy 2014
Arles- Toulouse 2015
Toulouse - Pamplona 2016
VDLP 2017
CP 2018
VF 2019
For anyone looking for an update on St Bernard’s pass. I’m in Orsieres tonight and they called the monks in the pass and they said the pass wouldn’t open until June 3. They have high snow walls along the road to the pass that are still unstable and are dangerous to pass. They also said the Italian side is still impassable.
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
I was behind you today but now in front. Circumstances dictated I had to take a taxi over the pass to the services above Aosta from where there is a regular bus into Aosta.

Bus timetables from the Martigny Tourist office shown here
thank you for the timetalbes and the prices! so one can pay in euros as well, despite being in (this part of) switzerland. this is good to know.
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
For anyone looking for an update on St Bernard’s pass. I’m in Orsieres tonight and they called the monks in the pass and they said the pass wouldn’t open until June 3. They have high snow walls along the road to the pass that are still unstable and are dangerous to pass. They also said the Italian side is still impassable.
thank you for the update! I am crossing my fingers that the situation will improve till june 14th, so that I am able to cross over the pass.
did anyone try sliding down the italian side on their bum? :eek:
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
did anyone try sliding down the italian side on their bum? :eek:
Wouldn't want to try that on the VF path - big sharp rocks as I recall. Might work on the road though. A long time ago I made a few winter descents in Scotland that way. But unless you have an ice axe for a brake it might be faster than you wanted and steering can be tricky....
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
thank you for the timetalbes and the prices! so one can pay in euros as well, despite being in (this part of) switzerland. this is good to know.
Not necessarily! Ensure you have the fare in both currencies just in case. I thoroughly checked the website & the fare was listed in Euros €. I even took a screen shot of the webpage. As I was leaving Switzerland with no plans to return in the forseeable future, I ran my CHF (Swiss francs) down but had ample Euros. When I boarded the bus in Bourg St Pierre bound for St Oyen, the (grumpy) driver would only take CHF...no Euros, no credit cards. Of course, I didn't have enough CHF. The driver was ready to turf me when I was rescued by other passengers (also walkers) who made up the difference. I'm eternally grateful to them & reimbursed them in Euros.
Just a cautionary tale... 😟
👣 🌏
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
Wouldn't want to try that on the VF path - big sharp rocks as I recall. Might work on the road though. A long time ago I made a few winter descents in Scotland that way. But unless you have an ice axe for a brake it might be faster than you wanted and steering can be tricky....
If you're a speed demon, you could wear your poncho for a bit of extra swisssshhhh on your descent. Saves the wet bum bit too but prone to shredding on those rocks you mentioned... 😊
👣 🌏
 
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caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
@caminka

You should note the gap between Bourg St. Pierre on the Swiss side and Bosses (the service station) on the Italian side. If you need to use the bus to get to the GSB hostel, that bus doesn’t start until 15th June.

See the 2019 timetable



I noticed that, yes. and the italian side bus up to the pass only starts on the 1st of july. but I'm not troubled by this. I plan to go to orsieres via the tunnel bus which should run those three days a week.
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
Not necessarily! Ensure you have the fare in both currencies just in case. I thoroughly checked the website & the fare was listed in Euros €. I even took a screen shot of the webpage. As I was leaving Switzerland with no plans to return in the forseeable future, I ran my CHF (Swiss francs) down but had ample Euros. When I boarded the bus in Bourg St Pierre bound for St Oyen, the (grumpy) driver would only take CHF...no Euros, no credit cards. Of course, I didn't have enough CHF. The driver was ready to turf me when I was rescued by other passengers (also walkers) who made up the difference. I'm eternally grateful to them & reimbursed them in Euros.
Just a cautionary tale... 😟
👣 🌏
huh. better to have all the francs you need with you then. thanks for the heads-up!
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
Wouldn't want to try that on the VF path - big sharp rocks as I recall. Might work on the road though. A long time ago I made a few winter descents in Scotland that way. But unless you have an ice axe for a brake it might be faster than you wanted and steering can be tricky....
I was mostly just kidding - I was trying to come up with an alternative way to descend if the italian side of the road wouldn't be ploughed yet. I really think it should be, by then, but one can never be too cautious in the mountains.
 

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