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Just back from Rome

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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Hi all, left The Col du Grand Saint Bernard on 11th July and arrived in Rome on 19th August.
I'll be brief as it's too early to take it all in really, I have just arrived back in the UK.
I found that part of the Via Francigena absolutely beautiful. I am still amazed at how stunning it all was, from the small villages to the pine forests, the rice fields, the fabulous cities we crossed....
I found it hard though, all those mountains and THAT heat! The Italians called the heatwave Lucifer, very aptly named methink :eek: A permanent sauna, day and night! :D
One tip: don't plan to arrive in Rome on a Saturday in August. It was heaving with people, obviously.
All in all, a fabulous experience.
Buon caminno to all!
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Congratulations! I'm very jealous - it is a wonderful route despite the heat and some tough going. I'd love to walk most of it again but hell will freeze over before I walk through those rice swamps again :)
Thanks Bradypus. The mosquitoes were indeed a plague in those rice swamps!!!
For me it's the climbing, I will NOT do it again. No way!
Famous last words :D
Ps: I found a very effective mosquito repellent on the first stretch of the VF, would recommend it (even though it's French ;))
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Congratulations, @domigee.
I still have that route to finish one day.
I am going back to the Way of St. Frances to finish next year. I had a walk cut short
late last year and have to complete it.

Then..the Via Francigena on the other side of Italy.
Thanks Grayland! Yes, I definitively recommend it. But as I said, I found it hard going at times... Now of course after 6 weeks' walking, I feel ready to keep going and...it's over! :rolleyes::D
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
Thanks Grayland! Yes, I definitively recommend it. But as I said, I found it hard going at times... Now of course after 6 weeks' walking, I feel ready to keep going and...it's over! :rolleyes::D
In about two more weeks you will suppress ahe memories of the "hard days" and only remember the easy good days.
Just like the other caminos
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
For me it's the climbing, I will NOT do it again. No way!
Famous last words :D
Yeah, right :) After I reached Rome someone asked if I'd be walking home. I said I might never walk anywhere ever again. Since then I've walked the Portugues, Sanabres, Frances, Gran Canaria and the Olavsleden. More infectious than those £#@% mosquitoes :)
 

NavyBlue

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy and Camino Frances. Via Francigena. Tro-Breiz in progress.
Hi,

Domigee, congratulations for your achievement.

True that the stages in the Apenines are not a walk in the park.

Ps: I found a very effective mosquito repellent on the first stretch of the VF, would recommend it (even though it's French ;))
In the rice fields, I wore a headnet when necessary. Keeps the (in-)famous local zanzare away from your ears and skin. Discovered it in Ireland as an anti-midges item.
 
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Doogman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo (September 2019)
Congratulations! That is a wonderful accomplishment. Once you have had time to digest it all and relax a little bit, I would love to hear more about it. Having just completed the opening section of the VF from Canterbury to Arras, I am thinking about book-ending it next summer with the Siena to Rome section. (For anyone interested, I will be posting some notes on the Canterbury-Arras section in the next few days).
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
You did it! Congratulations!
Looking forward to hearing more.
Do you think the climbs would have been easier if you had been walking for the weeks prior (say, from Canterbury)?
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Do you think the climbs would have been easier if you had been walking for the weeks prior (say, from Canterbury)?
Oh absolutely! Peeps say to me 'but you've walked much more difficult paths'...Yes, but after several weeks/months walking, you can take on anything (well, within reason :D).
 
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Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
That is fantastic. Congratulations! I'm anxious to hear all about it when you are ready to share.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
That is fantastic. Congratulations! I'm anxious to hear all about it when you are ready to share.
Ok, just a few reflections, higgledy piggledy, for what they're worth...


The preparation: Spent one whole year pondering 'shall we? Shan't we?' weighing the pros and cons (VF vs CF mainly), changing our minds every 5 min. Where to start? When?Then finally with a month to go met in London and in the space of an hour over a cappucino mapped out the whole itinerary. Sorted!
It seemed so easy, combining 2 days' walk into one as some stages seemed so short in the guidebook... Mmm

The packing: I am an 'extra light' adept, even as a novice on my first camino I kept my pack under 5 kg. This time I overpacked, at least 500g! Lol A swimsuit (used it twice, not worth it!)
and a small bag of stuff I meant to leave behind and packed by mistake, doh! (The dog dazzer, the swiss knife, the bed bug sheet, the torch) Actually the torch came in handy in a b&b in San Gimignano, where there was a power cut for hours and we couldn't open the door in the dark!

The mistakes: having a 3 course meal in Aosta with still half the way to go (15k)
Staying in ostellos with no a/c where sleep was impossible.
Not training enough on uphills!

The shame: getting lost so often! Until I used the Sloways App. My saviour!

The unexpected: blisters! At one point the skin of my whole left foot detached itself! I have no idea why but it nearly put an end to that camino. I took the train for 2 days and the 3rd day, on a 31km stretch, I 'trained' the first 10 and walked the last 21k. I decided then that if I couldn't manage even 21k, I would quit. Phew, It didn't come to that.

The expected but still hard-going: the heat. Lucifer ruled! 38/39 deg. was the norm and even higher, I was told.

The bonus: a free sauna, day and night!

The joys:
The beauty all around. Stunning. I knew a lot of Italy already but as a tourist. This was awsome.

The people we met. Only a very few but oh so memorable. The lady jogger who put me on the right path when I hopelessly got lost on the wrong side of the mountain. She walked back with me (at least 5k,) and we had a wonderful chat. The train conductor, Salvatore, who turned out to be a pilgrim too! He's walked caminos in Spain and the VF from his home. He cheered me up when I was feeling very low. A young French teacher from Grenoble, Laurence, who finished early but we are still in touch. A wonderful Italian couple, Mario and Ana. I hope they come and visit in London. The young French couple on honeymoon, I only briefly walked with them one morning but we met again out of the blue when arriving in Rome!
The French couple with the donkey who were walking all the way back from Rome...
Three young Austrian girls who were sleeping rough most nights. Always so bright and cheerful. A few others I won't bore you with but stay with me.
Something interesting: all were there obviously for religious reasons. Not something you see on every camino. And most (well, all the young people anyway) were on a ve-ry tight budget.

The acts of kindness: too many to cite them all but one comes to my mind. I hobble to a cafe very early in the morning, trying to work out how to get to a Decathlon, for new shoes? New soles? Anything! (I couldn't walk). I ask the men on the terrace if they knew of a bus. Nope, was the answer, no idea. End of conversation.
Then about 10 min later, one of them shouts at me'come, come...' They had actually stopped a bus! - which by then was blocking the narrow street whilst they were discussing with the lady driver, who then offered to drive me (free) to the bus station and explained which bus I needed and where to buy the ticket etc. Bless them all.

The disappointments: having to take the train/bus!

The accommodation: The parish ostellos we stayed in were fabulous, very clean, often brand new bathrooms and very cheap (10 euros was the norm). We chose in the end to stay in b&b or hotels quite a lot though just to have a good night sleep: the luxury of air conditioning and no-one making a racket getting ready to leave at ... 4pm!

The irritating: the mosquitos in the flat lands! In the heat and some long stretches, impossible to stop for even 5 min.


The tragic: just before arriving to Rome, I received the news that my best friend had - suddenly and unexpectedly - died! We had only talked on the phone 2 days earlier, planning her mother's 90th birthday party. It should have been today in fact and was the one reason I was pressed for time. I have just come back from France where I attended her funeral.
I mention it because of course it colours everything, my view of things, of life....

All in all and so as not to end on a sad note: a wonderful journey. Not easy by any means but obviously do-able if you are reasonably fit. My best advice to anyone contemplating it would be to walk the whole thing in one go, if at all possible. This is my one regret. We had stopped in Besançon 3 years ago and this year, time was at a premium. I wouldn't have found the mountains so demanding if I had had a few weeks' walking behind me!

Buon caminno to all! :)
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@domigee, heartfelt congratulations and a bow of deep respect. What a journey! And also heartfelt condolences...the loss of a dear friend can go very deep, a painful reminder not to take a single thing for granted. I'm sorry.

Thank you for these not higgledy-piggledly reflections: I never considered this way before, but reading your description....
Hmmmmm.

(BTW, and that French mozzie repellent's name is...??)
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome

Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. That had (and has) to be very difficult for you. Your Camino sounds wonderful, the challenges, the people, the quiet time and reflection. Oh, my. Thank you so much for sharing this, it means a lot to me.

Mike
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
@domigee : My hearfelt condolences with the loss of your friend. Hope you give yourself enough time to decompress....Un abrazo!
Thank you for your beautiful description of this difficult but gorgeous pilgrimage.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
@domigee Thanks for such an inspiring account. Sorry for you loss - so many of us have one of those "camino time deaths" that we carry with us. You never forget.
 

Fouilleul

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy Santiago(2002), Burgos Fisterra(2003), Seville Santiago(2004), Célé(2005),Britany(2006), Vezelay Santiago(2007),Aubrac(2008),
Aragon(2010),Britany(2011),Quebec(2014),Belgique(2015).....
Ok, just a few reflections, higgledy piggledy, for what they're worth...


The preparation: Spent one whole year pondering 'shall we? Shan't we?' weighing the pros and cons (VF vs CF mainly), changing our minds every 5 min. Where to start? When?Then finally with a month to go met in London and in the space of an hour over a cappucino mapped out the whole itinerary. Sorted!
It seemed so easy, combining 2 days' walk into one as some stages seemed so short in the guidebook... Mmm

The packing: I am an 'extra light' adept, even as a novice on my first camino I kept my pack under 5 kg. This time I overpacked, at least 500g! Lol A swimsuit (used it twice, not worth it!)
and a small bag of stuff I meant to leave behind and packed by mistake, doh! (The dog dazzer, the swiss knife, the bed bug sheet, the torch) Actually the torch came in handy in a b&b in San Gimignano, where there was a power cut for hours and we couldn't open the door in the dark!

The mistakes: having a 3 course meal in Aosta with still half the way to go (15k)
Staying in ostellos with no a/c where sleep was impossible.
Not training enough on uphills!

The shame: getting lost so often! Until I used the Sloways App. My saviour!

The unexpected: blisters! At one point the skin of my whole left foot detached itself! I have no idea why but it nearly put an end to that camino. I took the train for 2 days and the 3rd day, on a 31km stretch, I 'trained' the first 10 and walked the last 21k. I decided then that if I couldn't manage even 21k, I would quit. Phew, It didn't come to that.

The expected but still hard-going: the heat. Lucifer ruled! 38/39 deg. was the norm and even higher, I was told.

The bonus: a free sauna, day and night!

The joys:
The beauty all around. Stunning. I knew a lot of Italy already but as a tourist. This was awsome.

The people we met. Only a very few but oh so memorable. The lady jogger who put me on the right path when I hopelessly got lost on the wrong side of the mountain. She walked back with me (at least 5k,) and we had a wonderful chat. The train conductor, Salvatore, who turned out to be a pilgrim too! He's walked caminos in Spain and the VF from his home. He cheered me up when I was feeling very low. A young French teacher from Grenoble, Laurence, who finished early but we are still in touch. A wonderful Italian couple, Mario and Ana. I hope they come and visit in London. The young French couple on honeymoon, I only briefly walked with them one morning but we met again out of the blue when arriving in Rome!
The French couple with the donkey who were walking all the way back from Rome...
Three young Austrian girls who were sleeping rough most nights. Always so bright and cheerful. A few others I won't bore you with but stay with me.
Something interesting: all were there obviously for religious reasons. Not something you see on every camino. And most (well, all the young people anyway) were on a ve-ry tight budget.

The acts of kindness: too many to cite them all but one comes to my mind. I hobble to a cafe very early in the morning, trying to work out how to get to a Decathlon, for new shoes? New soles? Anything! (I couldn't walk). I ask the men on the terrace if they knew of a bus. Nope, was the answer, no idea. End of conversation.
Then about 10 min later, one of them shouts at me'come, come...' They had actually stopped a bus! - which by then was blocking the narrow street whilst they were discussing with the lady driver, who then offered to drive me (free) to the bus station and explained which bus I needed and where to buy the ticket etc. Bless them all.

The disappointments: having to take the train/bus!

The accommodation: The parish ostellos we stayed in were fabulous, very clean, often brand new bathrooms and very cheap (10 euros was the norm). We chose in the end to stay in b&b or hotels quite a lot though just to have a good night sleep: the luxury of air conditioning and no-one making a racket getting ready to leave at ... 4pm!

The irritating: the mosquitos in the flat lands! In the heat and some long stretches, impossible to stop for even 5 min.


The tragic: just before arriving to Rome, I received the news that my best friend had - suddenly and unexpectedly - died! We had only talked on the phone 2 days earlier, planning her mother's 90th birthday party. It should have been today in fact and was the one reason I was pressed for time. I have just come back from France where I attended her funeral.
I mention it because of course it colours everything, my view of things, of life....

All in all and so as not to end on a sad note: a wonderful journey. Not easy by any means but obviously do-able if you are reasonably fit. My best advice to anyone contemplating it would be to walk the whole thing in one go, if at all possible. This is my one regret. We had stopped in Besançon 3 years ago and this year, time was at a premium. I wouldn't have found the mountains so demanding if I had had a few weeks' walking behind me!

Buon caminno to all! :)
Thank. You, congratulations, WE plan to do this walk n'est Spring...
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Well, I am reviving this thread because I don’t think it is worth starting another one?
Just to say: I will be doing it again! :oops: Yep.
In hindsight, it was a very difficult pilgrimage, for very personal reasons. Things that happened at the time...and affected me deeply. Not easy to keep on walking when everything collapses around you.
Two years on and my camino walking mate convinced me I could do it again.
And, stupid me, I agreed. 😳 And I thank him for it 😀 (after all , we made it together to Jerusalem).
So here we go, watch this space! 😀 :oops:
 
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timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
@domigee Great news. Looking forward to following you on here. How did you get to Jerusalem. I'm going to continue (later in the year) to Istanbul but I'm don't know what to do after that.🤭
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Hi @timr We walked from Sofia to Edirne and then on to Istanbul, following more or less on the footsteps of Brandon Wilson, who wrote ‘Along the Templar trail’. Definitely worth a read, even though I much later discovered his walking companion’s account of the journey (on a French site) and it somehow told a different tale 😁
I’ll PM you.
 
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