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Cisa Pass oblivion, bella Tuscany &... 🎶 I do love to be beside the seaside...🎵

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
London to Rome

Copy of group email sent yesterday (30 May)

Day 64 walking
1625km
Marina di Massa, Italy

"Lago di Viverone (Lake Viverone).
Got into my hotel as early as I could to spend a relaxing afternoon by this beautiful lake. The lake has a bit of a resort-ish vibe but more your slightly-decaying-seen-better-days feeling. Of course it was still off-season & I can imagine the place would be really jumping in summer. The weather was perfect & even though I was on the trail, it felt like a break from it. Dinner in a waterfront taverna & gelati while strolling the promenade after...doesn't get much better.

On leaving Viverone, there was a whole 4-5 day section I could have done without (Santhia to Garlasco) but things improved from there. This was the rice-growing area; dead flat & to keep off the highway, the trail zig-zags through the paddies...I thought it was never going to end. It was frustrating & annoying; any gain you made zigging, you lost zagging. Turns what would have been about 18-20kms on the road into 30km plus. I was not a happy camper (er..walker. I don't camp. Ever... 😁 ).

The day walking into Pavia (famous university city) was lovely despite some ridiculously overgrown paths (shoulder high in places!). Usually entering any large population area involves a long slog through industrial & commercial outskirts. This one was different & you were in the centre before even realising a small city was there at all. Riverside trails leading to a covered bridge with the Cathedral dome in the background...has to rate up there for specky entrances even though the weather didn't co-operate. I would have liked a rest day to look around but alas, no chance. My accommodation was out the other side so all I saw of the place was what I passed enroute. I did pop into the Cathedral & it was a gob-smacker; deceptively cavernous interior, largely unadorned, amazing dome...& I got the first stamp in my second VF pilgrim passport.

Due to the complexity of the next leg...which I'd been stressing about all through the planning stages...I decided to go all out pilgrimmy & (shock, horror..) stay in the pilgrim hostel at Orio Litta. Five souls in total traipsed through the door (all at different points on the 'dampness' spectrum) & made the place home for the night. I arrived first
(& was the driest) & was able to nab the twin bedroom in the tower rather than be in the dorm area. We had an enjoyable evening at the local bar then lots of chatting at the hostel while we washed clothes & tried to dry everything with the worlds hardest working hairdryer! So ends a soggy day on the Via Francigena.

The next day involved one of those pivotal trail experiences; crossing the River Po by water taxi with the legendary 'Danilo-the-Boatman'...a VF institution for over 20 years. Brigitte (German-Swiss) was also anxious about this leg so we decided to tackle it together. Both of us are normally reccy-type people but due to the weather, chores & social activities, neither of us did one...& we paid for it the next morning...with the added stress of having to be at the boat dock (about 5km away) by a certain time. We got totally bamboozled trying to find the right way out of the small village...wandered around in circles, back & forth for over 20mins before we found the right path. Admittedly there were multiple options depending on whether you were going by boat, walking or cycling & it was foggy & raining but still...we couldn't have fought our way out of a wet paper bag. Eventually we made it to the landing platform with 10mins to spare. Unfortunately the heavens opened up & it bucketed down; there's no shelter at the dock & no cabin on the speedboat. Danilo insisted I take my backpack off. I couldn't believe it. In the pouring rain, I had to take OFF my wet weather gear to remove my pack! Needless to say, for the first time all trip, both me & my backpack got wet. Brigitte, walking with her dog, pulls her pack along on a cart so was spared a drenching. A high speed, open boat in heavy rain is not a fun experience but we laughed the whole way. Once safely down/up (I have no idea which...) river, we filled in Danilo's register of every pilgrim he has ferried across in twenty years. I'm only the 177th Australian in all that time.

Badly in need of a rest day (I was exhausted & feeling a bit 'fragile'), I shuffled & tweaked to pull a two-nighter at Fidenza. I knew nothing about the place or whether it was suitable for a rest day & I didn't care. I needed to stop...desperately...& that was the only place I could do it. I consulted Forum pal @Tim Greig (who I met up with way back in London), a former full VF'er himself, he thought it was reasonable option so I went for it. It turned out to be the perfect place for a break. Everything you could need or want, pleasant, laid-back without that 'edgy' feel some towns have had, nice to wander around but not much to see so you don't end up hoofing it all day on your 'rest' day. I did however have to add a word to my Italian vocabulary; 'terremoto'
...earthquake. There were two that day; at 2.30pm & 11pm. They called them earthquakes but I'd call them tremors at 3.7 & 4.2 on the Richter scale.
Oh...& the Giro d'Italia passed through town just half an hour before the first rattle & shake. Despite having seen multiple notices about road closures (incl several on the VF trail itself) the day before, I forgot about it until it was too late. Pity, as it would have been quite something to witness. The roads are closed for many hours to cover the whole circus but there's actually only an 8 minute window when the riders hurtle through.

A few days ago, I reached another geographical VF milestone, Passo della Cisa (Cisa Pass). It's the highest altitude point of the Italian section of the VF at 1041mt above sea level & marks your entry into Tuscany. Due to a stint of wet & stormy weather (most of which I somehow dodged), I added another unexpected word to my Italian vocab; FRANA...landslide. Unsafe trail conditions, rain, thunderstorms & poor visibility meant taking the road option. Well...that trek up to the Pass could only be described as a pea-souper. Setting out from Berceto visibility was about 50 mt...the higher I went the worse it got. I was well into the clouds & visibility reduced to around 15mts..that is not much when road walking. Sight & hearing on full alert. It was dangerous. It was not a good place to be but there was no alternative. Several factors helped see me safely through; its a quiet road, conditions were so dreadful, all vehicles were going nought mile an hour & it was Sunday. Although a hairy experience, I actually enjoyed it (I'm deeply disturbed...) & felt I'd accomplished something by reaching the top. Relieved, I had a well deserved break in the cafe at the Pass. While in there, much of the cloud lifted, the rain stopped & I had & fairly unchallenging (but not as much fun) descent. Phew...

So now I'm by the sea! First time I've seen it since my Dover to Calais channel crossing at the end of March. I'm off the official trail (again) but this coastal route is an un-waymarked option. Just to the north is Cinque Terre which I walked back in 2010 before discovering this long distance caper. In typical European style, the beach is not free & open to all. The 'season' starts this weekend & all the hotels, bars, etc are setting up thousands (you should see the satellite version of Google maps for this stretch...quite extraordinary!) & thousands of beach chairs & umbrellas as far as the eye can see in both directions. I'm glad I'm here before the onslaught. The sand is black & in stark contrast to the mountains of white marble which form the coastal backdrop. These ruggedly beautiful mountains are being eroded, not by wind or rain but by excavator to extract the precious marble so desirable to many. How far will they go & for how much longer I wonder?"

My next & final chapter should be from Rome in just over three weeks time. Wow...only 3 weeks to go. That's still a lot of walking but I already feel that sense of the end.. & its a feeling I never like. It sits there like a brick...it's inevitable, I can't stop time or even slow it down & each step brings it closer. As always though, I'm thankful to be able to do this & I know how lucky I am. I want to keep walking long distance until I can no more...& there's a whole world of other trails & paths just waiting.
👣 🌏
 
Last edited:

Galloglaigh2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances / Via Francigena
Forecast for this week is hot. If you have the Pocket Earth app, it has a list of water points. Very useful as you can never carry enough water.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Forecast for this week is hot. If you have the Pocket Earth app, it has a list of water points. Very useful as you can never carry enough water.
Thanks for the tip...& weather forecast! 🌞
👣 🌏
 

Galloglaigh2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances / Via Francigena
If you’re really liked going down the pass there is always the half-marathon.

I know which direction I’ll be taking
 

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kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
If you’re really liked going down the pass there is always the half-marathon.

I know which direction I’ll be taking
I saw the same poster. Couldn't believe my eyes at first...had to re-read it.
I'll be in your support vehicle handing you your protein gel. 🤭20190531_212752-979x1305.jpg
 

Viggen

Vigo
Camino(s) past & future
CF June 2015
CP June 2017
Del Norte, Finisterre / Muxia Oct 2017
VDLP 2018
VF, SBP to Rome 2019
London to Rome

Copy of group email sent yesterday (30 May)

Day 64 walking
1625km
Marina di Massa, Italy

"Lago di Viverone (Lake Viverone).
Got into my hotel as early as I could to spend a relaxing afternoon by this beautiful lake. The lake has a bit of a resort-ish vibe but more your slightly-decaying-seen-better-days feeling. Of course it was still off-season & I can imagine the place would be really jumping in summer. The weather was perfect & even though I was on the trail, it felt like a break from it. Dinner in a waterfront taverna & gelati while strolling the promenade after...doesn't get much better.

On leaving Viverone, there was a whole 4-5 day section I could have done without (Santhia to Garlasco) but things improved from there. This was the rice-growing area; dead flat & to keep off the highway, the trail zig-zags through the paddies...I thought it was never going to end. It was frustrating & annoying; any gain you made zigging, you lost zagging. Turns what would have been about 18-20kms on the road into 30km plus. I was not a happy camper (er..walker. I don't camp. Ever... 😁 ).

The day walking into Pavia (famous university city) was lovely despite some ridiculously overgrown paths (shoulder high in places!). Usually entering any large population area involves a long slog through industrial & commercial outskirts. This one was different & you were in the centre before even realising a small city was there at all. Riverside trails leading to a covered bridge with the Cathedral dome in the background...has to rate up there for specky entrances even though the weather didn't co-operate. I would have liked a rest day to look around but alas, no chance. My accommodation was out the other side so all I saw of the place was what I passed enroute. I did pop into the Cathedral & it was a gob-smacker; deceptively cavernous interior, largely unadorned, amazing dome...& I got the first stamp in my second VF pilgrim passport.

Due to the complexity of the next leg...which I'd been stressing about all through the planning stages...I decided to go all out pilgrimmy & (shock, horror..) stay in the pilgrim hostel at Orio Litta. Five souls in total traipsed through the door (all at different points on the 'dampness' spectrum) & made the place home for the night. I arrived first
(& was the driest) & was able to nab the twin bedroom in the tower rather than be in the dorm area. We had an enjoyable evening at the local bar then lots of chatting at the hostel while we washed clothes & tried to dry everything with the worlds hardest working hairdryer! So ends a soggy day on the Via Francigena.

The next day involved one of those pivotal trail experiences; crossing the River Po by water taxi with the legendary 'Danilo-the-Boatman'...a VF institution for over 20 years. Brigitte (German-Swiss) was also anxious about this leg so we decided to tackle it together. Both of us are normally reccy-type people but due to the weather, chores & social activities, neither of us did one...& we paid for it the next morning...with the added stress of having to be at the boat dock (about 5km away) by a certain time. We got totally bamboozled trying to find the right way out of the small village...wandered around in circles, back & forth for over 20mins before we found the right path. Admittedly there were multiple options depending on whether you were going by boat, walking or cycling & it was foggy & raining but still...we couldn't have fought our way out of a wet paper bag. Eventually we made it to the landing platform with 10mins to spare. Unfortunately the heavens opened up & it bucketed down; there's no shelter at the dock & no cabin on the speedboat. Danilo insisted I take my backpack off. I couldn't believe it. In the pouring rain, I had to take OFF my wet weather gear to remove my pack! Needless to say, for the first time all trip, both me & my backpack got wet. Brigitte, walking with her dog, pulls her pack along on a cart so was spared a drenching. A high speed, open boat in heavy rain is not a fun experience but we laughed the whole way. Once safely down/up (I have no idea which...) river, we filled in Danilo's register of every pilgrim he has ferried across in twenty years. I'm only the 177th Australian in all that time.

Badly in need of a rest day (I was exhausted & feeling a bit 'fragile'), I shuffled & tweaked to pull a two-nighter at Fidenza. I knew nothing about the place or whether it was suitable for a rest day & I didn't care. I needed to stop...desperately...& that was the only place I could do it. I consulted Forum pal @Tim Greig (who I met up with way back in London), a former full VF'er himself, he thought it was reasonable option so I went for it. It turned out to be the perfect place for a break. Everything you could need or want, pleasant, laid-back without that 'edgy' feel some towns have had, nice to wander around but not much to see so you don't end up hoofing it all day on your 'rest' day. I did however have to add a word to my Italian vocabulary; 'terremoto'
...earthquake. There were two that day; at 2.30pm & 11pm. They called them earthquakes but I'd call them tremors at 3.7 & 4.2 on the Richter scale.
Oh...& the Giro d'Italia passed through town just half an hour before the first rattle & shake. Despite having seen multiple notices about road closures (incl several on the VF trail itself) the day before, I forgot about it until it was too late. Pity, as it would have been quite something to witness. The roads are closed for many hours to cover the whole circus but there's actually only an 8 minute window when the riders hurtle through.

A few days ago, I reached another geographical VF milestone, Passo della Cisa (Cisa Pass). It's the highest altitude point of the Italian section of the VF at 1041mt above sea level & marks your entry into Tuscany. Due to a stint of wet & stormy weather (most of which I somehow dodged), I added another unexpected word to my Italian vocab; FRANA...landslide. Unsafe trail conditions, rain, thunderstorms & poor visibility meant taking the road option. Well...that trek up to the Pass could only be described as a pea-souper. Setting out from Berceto visibility was about 50 mt...the higher I went the worse it got. I was well into the clouds & visibility reduced to around 15mts..that is not much when road walking. Sight & hearing on full alert. It was dangerous. It was not a good place to be but there was no alternative. Several factors helped see me safely through; its a quiet road, conditions were so dreadful, all vehicles were going nought mile an hour & it was Sunday. Although a hairy experience, I actually enjoyed it (I'm deeply disturbed...) & felt I'd accomplished something by reaching the top. Relieved, I had a well deserved break in the cafe at the Pass. While in there, much of the cloud lifted, the rain stopped & I had & fairly unchallenging (but not as much fun) descent. Phew...

So now I'm by the sea! First time I've seen it since my Dover to Calais channel crossing at the end of March. I'm off the official trail (again) but this coastal route is an un-waymarked option. Just to the north is Cinque Terre which I walked back in 2010 before discovering this long distance caper. In typical European style, the beach is not free & open to all. The 'season' starts this weekend & all the hotels, bars, etc are setting up thousands (you should see the satellite version of Google maps for this stretch...quite extraordinary!) & thousands of beach chairs & umbrellas as far as the eye can see in both directions. I'm glad I'm here before the onslaught. The sand is black & in stark contrast to the mountains of white marble which form the coastal backdrop. These ruggedly beautiful mountains are being eroded, not by wind or rain but by excavator to extract the precious marble so desirable to many. How far will they go & for how much longer I wonder?"

My next & final chapter should be from Rome in just over three weeks time. Wow...only 3 weeks to go. That's still a lot of walking but I already feel that sense of the end.. & its a feeling I never like. It sits there like a brick...it's inevitable, I can't stop time or even slow it down & each step brings it closer. As always though, I'm thankful to be able to do this & I know how lucky I am. I want to keep walking long distance until I can no more...& there's a whole world of other trails & paths just waiting.
👣 🌏
Pleasure to read your post, I'm starting mine beginning of September. My plan is to take the train to Aosta, then see if I should start from GSB, or skip the pass. Any insight?
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Pleasure to read your post, I'm starting mine beginning of September. My plan is to take the train to Aosta, then see if I should start from GSB, or skip the pass. Any insight?
Thanks Viggen...& its great you'll be hitting the trail this year too. One of my previous 'Live from VF' postings is about the Pass & Valle d'Aosta if that helps.
Attempting or skipping the Pass will depend on the weather mainly & how much it means to you personally. It wasn't important to me because I always knew it was a 99% no-goer due to timing.
Whatever you decide about the Pass itself, I would suggest commence walking as soon after the Pass as you can. After bussing the tunnel, I got off at St Oyen, overnighted at Etroubles (no real reason, just an 'adjustment' day) & walked down to Aosta from there. Apart from a nervewracking section due to my balance disorder, some downed trees from winter & a wet descent day, it's a beautiful part of the VF. I really enjoyed walking beside the old (but still in use) water channel.
@timr walked the same time of year as me & I'm sure would be happy to offer his viewpoint. @Tim Greig walked over summer & may have a different perspective from another season. @Bradypus is also a wealth of information but he is currently travelling so may not be online regularly. I, of course, am always happy to assist with any queries too.
Happy planning.
👣 🌏
 
Last edited:

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
@Viggen Avedissian See my notes here
I mention there that if you are going as far as Aosta, I believe it is well worth going on up to the pass to start from there. It is a wonderfully interesting and iconic place.
From Aosta you can get bus up to the pass itself, during the summer. It is about an hour. (In the winter the bus goes through the tunnel.) You could then start walking back down from the Pass.
But if you go that far, I suggest getting the second bus (it is a double service in the summer) which will take you back over the old road from the hospice at the pass and you can get off at the tunnel entrance and walk back from there along the footpath, it is only 6.5km and 600m climb. Early September should not be a problem, but you should just check the weather before you go. You would be able to walk on the path or, if snow has started, on the old road, which is quiet as serious traffic takes the tunnel.
If you were as far as Aosta, and the weather was favourable, and you had an extra couple of days, I think it would be a great shame to skip the pass. But a lot of 'ifs' there! I didn't get there the first time and I was content with that too. Tim
 
Last edited:

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I agree with @timr - the pass itself and the descent from it into Italy really should not be missed. So much history and such spectacular scenery too.
 

Viggen

Vigo
Camino(s) past & future
CF June 2015
CP June 2017
Del Norte, Finisterre / Muxia Oct 2017
VDLP 2018
VF, SBP to Rome 2019
Thanks Viggen...& its great you'll be hitting the trail this year too. One of my previous 'Live from VF' postings is about the Pass & Valle d'Aosta if that helps.
Attempting or skipping the Pass will depend on the weather mainly & how much it means to you personally. It wasn't important to me because I always knew it was a 99% no-goer due to timing.
Whatever you decide about the Pass itself, I would suggest commence walking as soon after the Pass as you can. After bussing the tunnel, I got off at St Oyen, overnighted at Etroubles (no real reason, just an 'adjustment' day) & walked down to Aosta from there. Apart from a nervewracking section due to my balance disorder, some downed trees from winter & a wet descent day, it's a beautiful part of the VF. I really enjoyed walking beside the old (but still in use) water channel.
@timr walked the same time of year as me & I'm sure would be happy to offer his viewpoint. @Tim Greig walked over summer & may have a different perspective from another season. @Bradypus is also a wealth of information but he is currently travelling so may not be online regularly. I, of course, am always happy to assist with any queries too.
Happy planning.
👣 🌏
@Viggen Avedissian See my notes here
I mention there that if you are going as far as Aosta, I believe it is well worth going on up to the pass to start from there. It is a wonderfully interesting and iconic place.
From Aosta you can get bus up to the pass itself, during the summer. It is about an hour. (In the winter the bus goes through the tunnel.) You could then start walking back down from the Pass.
But if you go that far, I suggest getting the second bus (it is a double service in the summer) which will take you back over the old road from the hospice at the pass and you can get off at the tunnel entrance and walk back from there along the footpath, it is only 6.5km and 600m climb. Early September should not be a problem, but you should just check the weather before you go. You would be able to walk on the path or, if snow has started, on the old road, which is quiet as serious traffic takes the tunnel.
If you were as far as Aosta, and the weather was favourable, and you had an extra couple of days, I think it would be a great shame to skip the pass. But a lot of 'ifs' there! I didn't get there the first time and I was content with that too. Tim
I agree with @timr - the pass itself and the descent from it into Italy really should not be missed. So much history and such spectacular scenery too.
I am convinced, thank you all.
 

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