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LIVE from the Camino Via di Francesco 🇮🇹

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Well, this is something different! After walking several caminos in Spain and Portugal in the last few years, today I started walking the Via di Francesco in Italy. It’s a pilgrimage of about 500km centred around the life of St. Francis of Assisi, starting from a sanctuary in La Verna, Tuscany, and heading south via Assisi to Rome. Wendy is not joining me for this pilgrimage but I am lucky to be walking with @Elle Bieling and her husband Rich (the fourth person in the photo below is Amanuel, an Eritrean living in Germany who we met yesterday).

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Last night we stayed in pilgrim accommodations at the beautiful and atmospheric La Verna sanctuary, which was a fantastic experience. This is where Francis received the stigmata and it’s still an active monastery, isolated in the mountains. This morning we received a pilgrim blessing from one of the monks and went on our way!

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Day 1 - La Verna to Pieve Santo Stefano: ~15km

I don’t mind city exits on camino, so I’ve always been fine to begin a pilgrimage in Lisbon or Porto or Madrid or wherever. But this — starting the Via di Francesco at a Tuscan sanctuary and immediately being plunged into a beautiful forest — was something else entirely and a spectacular way to set out on this adventure.

As a first day, it was almost perfect. After seeing the sun’s first rays hit the cross at the sanctuary, we walked in forest for the next three hours — first amidst the changing colours of autumn, and then among towering pine trees, with no signs of civilisation. The walk was short, the weather was glorious, and I had the entertaining company of Elle and Rich.

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Along the way, we picked berries and saw mushrooms, chestnuts and even wild boar. Forest walking on pilgrimage is nothing new, of course, but this felt different from what I’m used to in Spain and Portugal. I have been lucky to spend a lot of time in Italy in the last 21 years, from the jagged peaks of the Dolomites to the Greek temples of Sicily and many places in between, but this first Italian pilgrimage in the Central Apennines somehow feels new and exciting.

With a successful first day done and dusted, it’s onwards and (literally) upwards tomorrow!
 
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Becky 59

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018, 2021
Camino Ingles (Aug 2019)
Well, this is something different! After walking several caminos in Spain and Portugal in the last few years, today I started walking the Via di Francesco in Italy. It’s a pilgrimage of about 500km centred around the life of St. Francis of Assisi, starting from a sanctuary in La Verna, Tuscany, and heading south via Assisi to Rome. Wendy is not joining me for this pilgrimage but I am lucky to be walking with @Elle Bieling and her husband Rich (the fourth person in the photo below is Amanuel, an Eritrean living in Germany).

View attachment 134118

Last night we stayed in pilgrim accommodations at the beautiful and atmospheric La Verna sanctuary, which was a fantastic experience. This is where Francis received the stigmata and it’s still an active monastery, isolated in the mountains. This morning we received a pilgrim blessing from one of the monks and went on our way!

View attachment 134117

View attachment 134120

I don’t mind city exits on camino, so I’ve always been fine to begin a pilgrimage in Lisbon or Porto or Madrid or wherever. But this — starting the Via di Francesco at a Tuscan sanctuary and immediately being plunged into a beautiful forest — was something else entirely and a spectacular way to set out on this adventure.

As a first day, it was almost perfect. After seeing the sun’s first rays hit the cross at the sanctuary, we walked in forest for the next three hours — first amidst the changing colours of autumn, and then among towering pine trees, with no signs of civilisation. The walk was short, the weather was glorious, and I had the entertaining company of Elle and Rich.

View attachment 134119

Along the way, we picked berries and saw mushrooms, chestnuts and even wild boar. Forest walking on pilgrimage is nothing new, of course, but this felt different from what I’m used to in Spain and Portugal. I have been lucky to spend a lot of time in Italy in the last 21 years, from the jagged peaks of the Dolomites to the Greek temples of Sicily and many places in between, but this first Italian pilgrimage in the Central Apennines somehow feels new and exciting.

With a successful first day done and dusted, it’s onwards and (literally) upwards tomorrow!
I hope to see more posts from you and or Elle! Looks awesome.
 
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Bill Krueger

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Portugues (June-2018)
Looking forward to more posts, we walked from La Verna to Assisi in 2018, a fabulous trip, but lots of climbing!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 2 - Pieve Santo Stefano to La Montagna: ~24km

Our second stage on the Via di Francesco was another glorious day of forests, mountains and a surprising ‘borghetto pellegrino’ (more on that later).

Today was a somewhat difficult stage of 24km through the mountains, including an ascent of over 950m. But almost the entire stage was in the forest with some spectacular autumn colours and plenty more mushrooms. There were also beautiful views from the Cerbaiolo Hermitage, where Saint Anthony of Padua — beloved in his birthplace and my adopted home town of Lisbon — once stayed.

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Like yesterday, there were no villages between our start and end points, so we brought a picnic lunch to eat on the way. This really is a very isolated and peaceful pilgrimage so far, a huge (and welcome) contrast to the chaos of my previous week in Naples and Rome.

At the end of our stage we entered the ‘borghetto pellegrino’ (little pilgrim neighbourhood), an adorable term for what amounts to several pilgrim lodgings in the forest or in the nearby hamlet of La Montagna. (As an aside, the diminutive ‘borghetto’, from ‘borgo’, applied to the Jewish neighbourhood in Rome and shortened, gave us the word ghetto in English.) We are staying with a local family in the hamlet who gave us a fantastic welcome and are making us a home-cooked meal tonight.

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In short, this pilgrimage is off to a great start and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
 
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Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Time of past OR future Camino
2020
Day 2 - Pieve Santo Stefano to La Montagna: ~24km

Our second stage on the Via di Francesco was another glorious day of forests, mountains and a surprising ‘borghetto pellegrino’ (more on that later).

Today was a somewhat difficult stage of 24km through the mountains, including an ascent of 800m. But almost the entire stage was in the forest with some spectacular autumn colours and plenty more mushrooms. There were also beautiful views from the Cerbaiolo Hermitage, where Saint Anthony of Padua — beloved in his birthplace and my adopted home town of Lisbon — once stayed.

View attachment 134177

Like yesterday, there were no villages between our start and end points, so we brought a picnic lunch to eat on the way. This really is a very isolated and peaceful pilgrimage so far, a huge (and welcome) contrast to the chaos of my previous week in Naples and Rome.

At the end of our stage we entered the ‘borghetto pellegrino’ (little pilgrim neighbourhood), an adorable term for what amounts to several pilgrim lodgings in the forest or in the nearby hamlet of La Montagna. (As an aside, the diminutive ‘borghetto’, from ‘borgo’, applied to the Jewish neighbourhood in Rome and shortened, gave us the word ghetto in English.) We are staying with a local family in the hamlet who gave us a fantastic welcome and are making us a home-cooked meal tonight.

View attachment 134178

In short, this pilgrimage is off to a great start and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Sounds amazing, can't wait to hear what they cook for you!
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Sounds amazing, can't wait to hear what they cook for you!
It was a feast! Primo piatto of penne in a tomato sauce made with tomatoes from the garden, followed by a tomato and potato salad, green beans, and a meatballs and cannellini beans dish for Elle and Rich, all garnished with herbs from the garden. Simple but delicious!

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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 3 - La Montagna to Citerna: ~24km

Every now and then on pilgrimage you get a day of two halves — and today, our third day on the Via di Francesco, was one of those days.

The first half was what I have started to become accustomed to on the early stages of the Via di Francesco: an isolated trail through beautiful forest with mountain views and a hermitage. We saw a herd of deer (at fairly long range), and later saw the first olive trees, vineyards and pumpkins of the walk, along with wild mint.

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Most of the last 15km, in contrast, took place on shadeless asphalt, the first extended road walking of this pilgrimage. That was my least favourite part of the via so far, but we were probably due for some road walking, and it came with a pay-off: the first two historic towns of the cammino in San Sepolcro and Citerna.

San Sepolcro is dotted with imposing towers and its medieval cathedral has a photogenic rose window. Citerna, where we’re staying at a donativo monastery, is a picturesque hilltop village with more towers and an atmospheric medieval passageway.

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After just three days, the Tuscan part of this pilgrimage is over, as we crossed into Umbria this afternoon. I haven’t been to Umbria in 20 years, so I’m looking forward to exploring it some more!
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 4 - Citerna to Città di Castello: ~20km

There’s never a dull moment on the Via di Francesco!

We set out in the fog at dawn this morning and visibility varied early on as we went above and below the fog line until it cleared up in mid-morning. The endless forests and autumn colours of the first few days seem to be behind us and we have now settled into the classic Tuscan/Umbrian countryside of rolling green hills, stone houses, and hilltop villages and castles. We passed locals foraging for chestnuts and mushrooms and saw plenty more olive trees.

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The real action started about 30 minutes into the stage when we came across a man who had driven his Fiat into a ditch on a muddy, off-piste road that his car was not at all suited for. We tried to help push the car out but this made it worse and it was only when a 4WD fortuitously came by after 20-30 minutes that the car could be dragged out of the ditch.

Later in the morning, we stopped for a snack in the forest only to be surrounded by hornets. One of them stung me through my shirt, which hurt but it seems to be a superficial sting. The stinger did not lodge itself in me and there is no swelling. Luckily Elle is a nurse and was able to help me!

Near the end of the stage we stopped at our third hermitage of the pilgrimage, Buon Riposo, which St. Francis visited at least twice. It was quite different from the other two in several ways and worth visiting as a result. Looking through the door’s grated ‘peephole’ into the cloister gives you a glimpse of what’s inside.

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Our overnight stop is Città di Castillo, a historic town with medieval city walls and towers. After a delicious late lunch of bruschetta with fungi porcini and gnocchi with truffles, Neapolitan-style pizza (i.e. the best kind) awaits tonight!

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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 5 - Città di Castello to Pietralunga: ~30km

“This is a wretched day,” said Elle. And that wasn’t far from the truth. It was 30km, almost all on asphalt with 800m of ascent, in mostly foggy/cloudy weather, and with only one real sight: an old church that was underwhelming on the inside.

But pilgrimage has a way of giving you magical moments when you least expect them, and so it did today.

We arrived in Pietralunga at the end of the stage to find that a fantastic truffle market/festival was in full swing and had completely taken over the historic centre of the village. The whole town was buzzing, the sun came out, and we enjoyed late afternoon drinks on a terrace overlooking the beautiful countryside. Later, seven of us pilgrims from four different countries had a lovely dinner together in a restaurant in the main square, and the spirit of the camino was alive and well.

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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Some of the ‘pilgrim’s good manners’ posted in multiple languages on the door of our donativo church accommodation in Pietralunga (including interesting translations):

- Pilgrim generally meets different cultures on his way: respect the people and respect the environment.

- Your offering is important to have cleaning and comfortable refuge. However our bedrooms couldn’t be like your desire but, we ask you to respect them anyway.

- Remember to be plain and modest like the San Francesco’s life, to live your pilgrimage in the best way possible.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 6 - Pietralunga to Gubbio: ~25km

A pre-dawn departure from Pietralunga this morning, just in time to see a flaming sky above the rolling hills of Umbria. What a magical country this is!

A4B5E143-BFF6-42EC-B994-8190B4C17B1A.jpeg

Today was similar in a way to yesterday, but nicer — shorter, sunnier and with less asphalt. We’re no longer walking through forests but on country roads (mostly gravel today) and the elevation changes, while still apparent, don’t seem as dramatic. We passed more rose hip berries, as we have every day, and saw the most picturesque vineyard on this cammino so far, as in general they’re a bit past their prime. There was also a nice monument to Saint Francis among olive trees.

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Aside from the walk, today’s stage was one I had been looking forward to more than most for the end destination: Gubbio. My first and only previous visit to Gubbio was half a lifetime ago in January 2002, and all these years later, it didn’t disappoint. With medieval white stone buildings rising up the hillside, punctuated by towers, it bears a passing resemblance to Tolkien’s Minas Tirith (which is no mean feat!).

It was quite cloudy for most of the afternoon in Gubbio, so it was hard to take the kind of photos I like to take, but I snuck in a couple when the sun came out briefly (including the Roman theatre, below), and hopefully I’ll be able to take some more in the morning before we continue on our way.

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Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Day 6 - Pietralunga to Gubbio: ~25km

A pre-dawn departure from Pietralunga this morning, just in time to see a flaming sky above the rolling hills of Umbria. What a magical country this is!

View attachment 134475

Today was similar in a way to yesterday, but nicer — shorter, sunnier and with less asphalt. We’re no longer walking through forests but on country roads (mostly gravel today) and the elevation changes, while still apparent, don’t seem as dramatic. We passed more rose hip berries, as we have every day, and saw the most picturesque vineyard on this cammino so far, as in general they’re a bit past their prime. There was also a nice monument to Saint Francis among olive trees.

View attachment 134476

Aside from the walk, today’s stage was one I had been looking forward to more than most for the end destination: Gubbio. My first and only previous visit to Gubbio was half a lifetime ago in January 2002, and all these years later, it didn’t disappoint. With medieval white stone buildings rising up the hillside, punctuated by towers, it bears a passing resemblance to Tolkien’s Minas Tirith (which is no mean feat!).

It was quite cloudy for most of the afternoon in Gubbio, so it was hard to take the kind of photos I like to take, but I snuck in a couple when the sun came out briefly (including the Roman theatre, below), and hopefully I’ll be able to take some more in the morning before we continue on our way.

View attachment 134477
We too, have had rose hips galore all along the way on the Via Francigena. I think they are often crushed in a mortar and pestle, and turned into a cup of tea.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 7 - Gubbio - Agriturismo Tenuta di Biscina: ~25km (including walking around Gubbio)

The Via di Francesco is nothing if not an adventure!

I spent the morning exploring Gubbio and for a brief period, the sun came out and created some amazing light. After soaking up the atmosphere of this fabulous place for a couple of hours, it was time to get moving.

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I didn’t leave Gubbio until about 10:30am and with only a 15km stage to the Eremo di San Pietro in Vigneto, the walk itself seemed almost like an afterthought. But the cammino had other plans. First, I was bitten by a dog — a small domestic dog on a leash, but still. I showed the owner where my leg was bleeding and she said it was only a little bite and didn’t seem to care much.

Then, Elle and Rich, who were well ahead of me, got in touch to say the hermitage-ostello where we had planned to stay was closed. It’s an isolated area and it’s off-season now so we had to scramble to see if we could find somewhere to stay that didn’t involve going all the way to Valfabbrica, which would have made for a 38km day.

Eventually after a few phone calls, an agriturismo a few kilometres past the hermitage came to the rescue, and now we have a beautiful apartment that significantly exceeds our usual lowly pilgrim standards, and we’re having a home-cooked dinner made for us with vegetables from the garden.

The cammino provides, as they say.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
We too, have had rose hips galore all along the way on the Via Francigena. I think they are often crushed in a mortar and pestle, and turned into a cup of tea.
I’m not sure I even knew what they were until last week. This is what they look like for others who don’t know:

822F7FCD-FCA7-482D-B3EF-69295FF55DC8.jpeg
 

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
For the foodies out there, the aforementioned truffle gnocchi:

View attachment 134333
If we didn't know you were in truffle country, we'd know you were in truffle country...no where else on the planet would be so generous with the pricey little nuggets. You could have scraped it off & sold it in a less endowed locale to pay for your trip!
Did you actually get some gnocchi with your truffles?... 😆
👣 🌏
 

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
I’m not sure I even knew what they were until last week. This is what they look like for others who don’t know:

View attachment 134587
Obviously you've never watched 'Alone'...
😄 Although I knew what they were, I confess until watching one or more of the series, I didn't know you could eat them; they're high in Vit C & historically used to stave off &/or treat scurvy.
There you have it!
👣🌏
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Obviously you've never watched 'Alone'...
😄 Although I knew what they were, I confess until watching one or more of the series, I didn't know you could eat them; they're high in Vit C & historically used to stave off &/or treat scurvy.
There you have it!
👣🌏
Good to know. If I feel a bit of scurvy coming on I’ll munch on one or two! Are they good for hornet stings and dog bites too?
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Obviously you've never watched 'Alone'...
😄 Although I knew what they were, I confess until watching one or more of the series, I didn't know you could eat them; they're high in Vit C & historically used to stave off &/or treat scurvy.
There you have it!
👣🌏
I love the "Alone" series, although I'll take my rose hips in tea.🙂

If we didn't know you were in truffle country, we'd know you were in truffle country...no where else on the planet would be so generous with the pricey little nuggets. You could have scraped it off & sold it in a less endowed locale to pay for your trip!
Did you actually get some gnocchi with your truffles?... 😆
I've had truffles twice on the Via Francigena. The first, a truffle ravioli, I was excited and it was not expensive.
The second I had ordered two eggs for breakfast in Siena. They spoke no English and I wondered what those miniscule, paper thin things were on top; I assumed an herb. When my bill came and my eggs were €15 did I realize they were truffles on top. In both meals I could not taste them as they had no flavor. I will avoid them now as I suppose you need to spend €100 to taste the flavor...I'll stick with chocolate.😅🌰
Screenshot_20221011-060537~2.png Screenshot_20221011-061108~2.png
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 8 - Agriturismo Tenuta di Biscina - Assisi: ~26km

Seeing a full moon rising above olive trees in the Umbrian countryside was a great way to begin our eighth day on the Via di Francesco today, and another reminder of how special this country is.

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After a couple of days of absent-mindedness during the walk, which can happen once the newness wears off and when you are thinking about dog bites and medieval towns and Roman emperors instead of looking at what’s around you, I tried to be more present today and notice the beauty of simple things like a stack of wooden logs.

That worked for a time until my mind wandered off and I turned a corner to suddenly come across a large cow right in front of me on the narrow trail. Given my track record on this walk (hornet sting, dog bite), I thought being charged by a cow might be strike three but I managed to sneak past and continue on my way.

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Overall, the walk today was quite beautiful, especially in the early morning leaving the agriturismo and again among the olive trees as we approached Assisi.

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Our arrival in the town of Saint Francis this afternoon signifies the end of the northern route of the Via di Francesco. I’m taking a rest day in Assisi tomorrow, and will then continue on the southern route all the way to Rome!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Our arrival in the town of Saint Francis this afternoon signifies the end of the northern route of the Via di Francesco. I’m taking a rest day in Assisi tomorrow, and will then continue on the southern route all the way to Rome!
I have been to Assisi in the past and absolutely loved it even though in July it was inundated with tour buses. I recall my family and I headed up out of town for some spectacular views of the town and away from the crowds. Assisi is a wonderful place for a rest day.
 

dreaming

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF, LE PUY
It looks magnificent. Thanks for the photos. Just wondered if you rebooked accommodation?
 

RodlaRob

Oz Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Torres (2016) Portuguese (2016)
Day 8 - Agriturismo Tenuta di Biscina - Assisi: ~26km

Seeing a full moon rising above olive trees in the Umbrian countryside was a great way to begin our eighth day on the Via di Francesco

Thanks for great trip updates & photos from you & Elle. Have thought about this Camino after walking small part of it when I stayed in Spoleto pre Covid.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
It looks magnificent. Thanks for the photos. Just wondered if you rebooked accommodation?
Prebooked? No. I booked the first night at the La Verna sanctuary in advance but since then I have been going day by day. There are more options than I had expected actually. Plus Elle has a spreadsheet. ;)
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
A (deserved?) rest day in Assisi today. It’s been 20 years since my last visit and I’d almost forgotten how beautiful this city is.

Pre-dawn view over the Abbey of St. Peter:

DA37351C-E141-4E25-9967-11BEF216213B.jpeg

The Basilica of St. Francis, the heart of this pilgrimage:

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I had a fairly low-key day, doing some admin things in the morning and visiting some churches. Getting the testimonium in my ‘Italian name’ was a bonus!

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In the afternoon I enjoyed a final drink or two with Elle and Rich, who are finishing their pilgrimage here and will do some travelling around Italy in the next few weeks. It was great to spend this time with them and it added a lot more fun and laughter to this pilgrimage!

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But no more rest for the wicked, it’s back on the trail for me tomorrow!
 

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
It’s been 20 years since my last visit and I’d almost forgotten how beautiful this city is.

Pre-dawn view over the Abbey of St. Peter:

View attachment 134678
Firstly Nick, you don't look old enough to have been anywhere except primary school 20 years ago!
Secondly, the pre-dawn Abbey photo is absolutely STUNNING! So atmospheric & really conveys that early morning calm. Were there any obligatory roosters?
Thirdly, congrats on your testimonium & safe arrival in Assisi. 👏
& finally, are the drinks Aperol?...or maybe campari?
Best wishes for your continued journey.
Happy trails!
👣 🌏
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Firstly Nick, you don't look old enough to have been anywhere except primary school 20 years ago!
I’ll take that, thank you! ;)

Secondly, the pre-dawn Abbey photo is absolutely STUNNING! So atmospheric & really conveys that early morning calm. Were there any obligatory roosters?
No roosters that I heard, and I really liked that spot. I happened to go past it again at dusk the same day and took more shots!

7291D8B3-A844-4B94-A52E-4C4669D6257F.jpeg
Thirdly, congrats on your testimonium & safe arrival in Assisi. 👏
Thank you! On one hand it’s a little strange to receive a certificate less than halfway through, but on the other it’s certainly a nice bonus!

& finally, are the drinks Aperol?...or maybe campari?
Aperol indeed. Rich had his heart set on a Negroni but was talked out of it by Italian pilgrim friends. Then he liked the Aperol so much that we had two!

Best wishes for your continued journey.
Happy trails!
👣 🌏
Thank you so much! I am all alone now from the looks of it, with all the pilgrims we had met having now finished or no longer being in sync with my stages, so it’s very nice to have your encouragement! :)
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 9: Assisi - Foligno: ~23km

Back on the trail today, and there were two options: a long, steep and mountainous route via a hermitage, or a shorter, flatter and less interesting route. Elle’s succinct summary was: “Kill yourself or go boring.” I chose the first option and luckily I lived to tell the tale!

Facing a forecast of rain and the prospect of climbing a 1000m mountain alone just to go all the way back down again, I wasn’t very excited about the stage when I set out. But despite the forecast and the dark skies, and even though it was cold, windy and exposed at the top, the rain never came — something to be thankful for on a stage like this.

The Eremo delle Carceri hermitage, halfway up the mountain, was a very special place and the highlight of the stage. It was much more interesting than the other three hermitages I’ve visited on this cammino, and closer to the La Verna Sanctuary in the feeling of peace and spirituality that it inspired. Beyond the surviving frescoes, the intimate nature of the interior spaces also added to the atmosphere, especially after the grand churches of Assisi. This is the refectory:

8099664F-02F8-4C74-9A28-3ABCFD2C4482.jpeg

Having survived the elements on Monte Subasio, the descent through forest was more pleasant, especially the last part through an olive grove looking down on the picturesque medieval town of Spello despite the bleak light.

EA27673C-4301-4CF4-A36F-1B28273F033D.jpeg

Leaving Spello after lunch, the sun even made its first appearance of the day as I passed the monumental first-century BC Roman Consular Gate.

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The last 5km into Foligno was uninteresting, on asphalt and through suburbs, but I didn’t mind and was happy to arrive safe, sound and dry!
 
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Back on the trail today, and there were two options: a long, steep and mountainous route via a hermitage, or a shorter, flatter and less interesting route. Elle’s succinct summary was: “Kill yourself or go boring.” I chose the first option and luckily I lived to tell the tale!
Great post, Nick!
I love Elle's words; thanks for sharing them. I must admit though that I sometimes choose boring, but I suppose I wouldn't be walking the VF if it was entirely true.🙂
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many to count!
It's been a fabulous adventure for the past 10 days with Nico (aka Nick) on our journey on the Via di Francesco Nord, from La Verna to Assissi.

Coming into Assisi is definitely not like the arrival intro Santiago, but satisfying nonetheless.

We are on to the next phase of our travels, flying to Palermo and chilling in Sicily for awhile.

And Nico, glad to hear you survived Monte Subasio and lived to tell the tale!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 10: Foligno - Poreta: ~25km

It was dark when I set out at 6:40am this morning, about 40 minutes before sunrise. One of the advantages of being a morning person who doesn’t drink coffee and doesn’t eat much/any breakfast is that I can basically roll out of bed straight onto the trail (‘The Camel’, Elle calls me).

I wanted to leave early today to have good light for the most scenic parts of the stage, and given that I was combing two (albeit tiny) stages into one, it seemed wise to get a move on.

5166BC4D-8D53-4874-A245-698C53EEA1F4.jpeg

Fortunately, it was a gloriously sunny day and possibly the most beautiful stage of the pilgrimage so far. The olive groves that were hinted at yesterday were spread all over the countryside today, as far as the eye could see. Apparently I’ll be getting used to this over the next few stages, but today it was new and exciting. Looking back at the town of Trevi was especially picturesque, but the views were brilliant in pretty much any direction. There were also some historic places scattered about, including the castles of Campello Alto and Poreta.

A9048FC0-7836-4CB0-8723-A47982AA124F.jpeg

Poreta itself is a strange end-of-stage village - there are cats and mosquitos everywhere. I arrived in time for lunch but there were no restaurants open, and I was told that the signora who runs a small grocery store could cook some food. Fortunately that was true and she whipped up a very good and cheap meal on short notice. Since the only restaurant open for dinner tonight charges €60 per person, I’m going back to the signora for another meal.

I’ll have the company of a French ‘begging pilgrim’ (as he described himself), who is going the other way and walking on donation, bringing back memories of Father Joyful on the Camino Francés five years ago. I haven’t seen any pilgrims going my way since leaving Assisi, so I’ll be glad to have his company in exchange for buying him dinner.

What an interesting pilgrimage this is!
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
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Elle, I know you are good at sharing your travel experiences. I hope you include some updates from Sicily; my grandparents on my dad's side came over to America from Sicily in 1921.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Nick, you are a great writer on your travels; I wish I wrote as eloquently as you do.
Thank you! Tapping out a summary on my phone after a day on camino doesn’t usually result in my best work, but I am trained in writing, after all.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 11: Poreta - Spoleto: ~15km

This is the Italian countryside of your dreams — or, at least, the Italian countryside of my dreams. Over the last two days, it’s been pure joy to walk past endless olive groves, charming stone houses, ruined castles, medieval hilltop villages and majestic pine trees soaring high into the deep blue sky.

FEAAE4C2-2056-4E1B-A10E-106E53C16A6D.jpeg

This journey feels completely different now from just a few days ago. It’s so unusual to have the focal point of the pilgrimage (Assisi) appear in the middle, but in hindsight this served to divide my cammino in two: from forests, mushrooms and laughter on the northern route to rolling hills, olives and solitude on the southern route.

F71DA65F-3E17-4547-B1E0-CD44736DF0D6.jpeg

I’m alone now and still haven’t seen any pilgrims going in the same direction as me since I left Assisi three days ago. But I came here for three reasons — to walk, to speak Italian, and to deepen my understanding of this culture — and I feel that I’m now able to bring these objectives into harmony, even though it isn’t as fun socially as it was when I was walking with Elle and Rich. In any case, being able to experience two pilgrimages for the price of one has been a blessing.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many to count!
This journey feels completely different now from just a few days ago. It’s so unusual to have the focal point of the pilgrimage (Assisi) appear in the middle, but in hindsight this served to divide my cammino in two: from forests, mushrooms and laughter on the northern route to rolling hills, olives and solitude on the southern route.

I’m alone now and still haven’t seen any pilgrims going in the same direction as me since I left Assisi three days ago. But I came here for three reasons — to walk, to speak Italian, and to deepen my understanding of this culture — and I feel that I’m now able to bring these objectives into harmony, even though it isn’t as fun socially as it was when I was walking with Elle and Rich. In any case, being able to experience two pilgrimages for the price of one has been a blessing.

I thought the mood would change on the southern route, as you are describing, so I am not surprised. A return to this caminno seems in order! And I am not surprised that it is split up into two different experiences. That is what I was noticing on the Facebook groups. Few pilgrims do the entire thing in one fell swoop, Rich and I included!
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
For today’s ‘rest day’, I walked 18km around the old town of Spoleto and beyond.

Spoleto is not as picture-perfect as Gubbio or Assisi, but it is still an extraordinary place and feels more ‘real’ than either of them (i.e. less touristy). The more I lost myself in Spoleto’s alleyways and made new discoveries, the more I liked it.

But it was in the churches, rather than the streets, where I found the Spoleto I was looking for. The city boasts an extraordinary medieval heritage and I have highlighted just some of it here.

First, the stunning 13th-century façade of Spoleto’s cathedral, complete with a Byzantine-style mosaic dated 1207. Today was the celebration of the 825th anniversary of the cathedral’s dedication and the holy door was opened for the occasion.

39EBC2A3-0A9A-46BF-BA03-D82F6A41DF8D.jpeg

Second, the austere and beautiful crypt of the church of San Ponziano, Spoleto’s patron saint, dating to the 13th century or earlier. I am fortunate to be staying in accommodation on the church grounds.

ED8BA7E0-04A5-4095-9B96-E4A768FB7227.jpeg

Back on the trail tomorrow and I’ve been told it will be a memorable stage!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 12: Spoleto - Macenano: ~24km

I feel like I’m saying this virtually every day now, but this was the most spectacular stage yet on the Via di Francesco.

In a way it was a throwback to the northern route before Assisi, as the stage took place almost entirely in the forest with the standard 1000m of ascent/descent, and it included a monastery and almost no olive trees. But the new elements today were karsts and dramatic mountain views, and without a cloud in the sky, it really was an exceptional day’s walking. I didn’t see any pilgrims and saw probably fewer than 10 people all day.

Leaving Spoleto this morning, I had to take an alternative route as the Ponte delle Torri (Bridge of the Towers, pic below) is currently closed for repairs. But the alternative is an existing hiking route which offers great views of Spoleto castle and took me to the Grotta degli Affreschi — more like the Grotta dei Graffiti these days but there were still some visible frescoes.

D41CFDDE-B7A4-441C-ABCA-4A54ED620AA6.jpeg

All the ascent came in the early part of the stage, through the sacred forest of Monteluco and leading to the Convent of San Francesco and its 13th century corridor-dormitory. I was all alone at the convent and it was another special place on a cammino that’s full of them.

After climbing to the highest point on the Via di Francesco, the Forca di Castel, the real highlight of the stage was the scenery on the way down, featuring limestone cliffs and pristine mountains, the first time on this walk that I have been wowed by mountain views. After reaching Ceselli, the only accommodation option was closed so I gladly walked another 5k through a river valley to Macenano.

1995963E-F471-4D9D-A21F-707981E00131.jpeg

After offering so much already, what else does this pilgrimage have in store for me?
 
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Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
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After reaching Ceselli, the only accommodation option was closed so I gladly walked another 5k through a river valley to Macenano.
That's interesting, as I had Macenano on the "spreadsheet." I show 2 accommodations in Ceselli, but I suppose the Hostel is closed for the season. Did you stay at the Ristorante Ai Tres Archi?
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
That's interesting, as I had Macenano on the "spreadsheet." I show 2 accommodations in Ceselli, but I suppose the Hostel is closed for the season. Did you stay at the Ristorante Ai Tres Archi?
Yes. Glad to have gone further as it makes for a more even split between today and tomorrow.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 13: Macenano - Piediluco: ~28km

It turns out that when you don’t do any research, the camino has a way of surprising you.

The day started with the sun’s first light hitting the mountain peaks as I walked through a gorge-like valley. The morning’s walk was beautiful, past ruined towers, hilltop villages and trees in autumn colours.

8C1FA9C1-5F71-437C-A01B-E40ED2DF9CBA.jpeg

Then came the surprise. I was aware that a waterfall, the Cascata delle Marmore, was coming today but didn’t know anything about it. When I arrived and found out that the waterfall was human-made, I was a bit disappointed, even though it’s the world’s tallest human-made waterfall at 165m. But then I read some more and discovered that rather than being made around the 1970s as you might expect, it was actually created in the third century BC by the ancient Romans, who dug a canal to divert water that was threatening a nearby town, and the waterfall was the result. Almost everything to do with the Romans fascinates me, and their enduring impact on this land never ceases to amaze.

These days, with new canals having been dug from the 15th century on, the water flow is regulated and usually there isn’t that much of it. But twice a day, water is released from the dam above to create a much more powerful and dramatic waterfall that’s truly impressive.

Before:

9629A8AF-A419-43D8-9EAB-41B505FAEF30.jpeg

After:

12370D13-41AF-4DBF-B1AF-F60854ED1D53.jpeg

Just another day on the Via di Francesco!
 

RodlaRob

Oz Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Torres (2016) Portuguese (2016)
Loving the daily reports @jungleboy ! As you know, I also followed your Central Portugal one & others.
Cannot understand 🤔 why there are not more Forum members reading your Camino reports??
Would like to do a survey on the % of Forum readers who only focus on the Camino Francès 😳.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Thank you both! I understand the pull of the Francés, but Wendy and I have often discussed the huge imbalance of the Francés sometimes being at bursting point (accommodation-wise) while at the same time other routes with so much to offer are completely empty. Hopefully a more even ‘distribution’ of pilgrims can be achieved in years to come but I’m not sure I see it happening.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 14: Piediluco - Poggio Bustone: ~21km

This cammino has been so colourful that it was extremely odd this morning to wake up to fog, walk along the lakeshore at Piediluco and see this eerie and virtually black-and-white scene: a children’s playground slide partially submerged and reflected in the silent, haunting waters of the lake.

EE1D45FD-D0C0-4626-A621-58932BA4A337.jpeg

The fog lifted soon enough, though, and ‘normal service’ resumed. And what is normal service on the Via di Francesco? Ups (1370m today!), downs (940m), lovely forest walking, autumn colours, no pilgrims, medieval villages (Labro), shrines to Saint Francis (today’s was a tree) and the glorious weather that has shone over me for the last six days.

A690F55B-07A2-412E-B3DD-732223005A9F.jpeg

It was another day to savour being able to do this and another day of feeling exhilaration at the prospect of what lies ahead on the unknown path.

Today was also the day I left Umbria behind and entered the final region of the Via di Francesco: Lazio. As entering Galicia is a reminder that Santiago is within reach, so it is with Lazio and Rome. I don’t want this to end, but I only have six days left.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Hi Nick,
The photo of that slide is surreal and looks more like an artist's painting! (The others didn't load up for me.)
We have hoofed it all over the main tourist sights in Rome from our hotel the past two days and have visited most of your recommendations, including the two subterranean levels of ancient ruins under San Clemente basilica, and the area of Trastevere, where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch. Unfortunately the Jewish church had a special event going on yesterday and we were not admitted. We did everything we saw on foot, figuring "why not". It was a final ending to a great walk in great weather.

I hope you keep enjoying your walk through Lazio until you reach Rome. The crowds were everywhere; the same as the summer I was there ten years ago.
We go home tomorrow and I am ready!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
The photo of that slide is surreal and looks more like an artist's painting! (The others didn't load up for me.)
Exactly! I was thinking it could be modern art, as it’s not exactly high Renaissance!

We have hoofed it all over the main tourist sights in Rome from our hotel the past two days and have visited most of your recommendations, including the two subterranean levels of ancient ruins under San Clemente basilica, and the area of Trastevere, where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch. Unfortunately the Jewish church had a special event going on yesterday and we were not admitted. We did everything we saw on foot, figuring "why not". It was a final ending to a great walk in great weather.
Great! By foot is the best way to see Rome, even fore sore and tired pilgrims. Isn’t San Clemente amazing?

I hope you keep enjoying your walk through Lazio until you reach Rome. The crowds were everywhere; the same as the summer I was there ten years ago.
I have already been to Rome twice on this trip but can’t wait to go back! I have a few secret ways to avoid the crowds ;)

Have a safe trip home!
 
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Pilgrim 122

Member
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camino frances 2012
Le puy route 2013
London to Santiago via Camino Norte 2014 , 2015, arriving 2016 (God willing!)
Thank you for this, it's really interesting. I walked the way of st Francis a few years ago but when I got to Rieti it snowed so heavily I had to just take the train to Rome 2018 (I think). I came back later to finish it off. I don't think you will have that problem! I visited Greccio from Rieti, where St Francis arranged a nativity scene using the local people and animals. Will you have a chance to go there?
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Thank you for this, it's really interesting. I walked the way of st Francis a few years ago but when I got to Rieti it snowed so heavily I had to just take the train to Rome 2018 (I think). I came back later to finish it off. I don't think you will have that problem! I visited Greccio from Rieti, where St Francis arranged a nativity scene using the local people and animals. Will you have a chance to go there?
Wow, snow — that would be something! Greccio is on the 3-day alternative route so I will miss it this time but save it for next time!
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Wow Jungle Boy, Great to read your posts. Italy has been on my to do list for many years. My brother studied at the Vatican many years ago. He did not return home for his time off. He traveled around the country and also around Europe. The stories he to this day and I never tier of hearing them. Thanks
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Wow Jungle Boy, Great to read your posts. Italy has been on my to do list for many years. My brother studied at the Vatican many years ago. He did not return home for his time off. He traveled around the country and also around Europe. The stories he to this day and I never tier of hearing them. Thanks
I recommend Italy! 🤣
 
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Pilgrim 122

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
camino frances 2012
Le puy route 2013
London to Santiago via Camino Norte 2014 , 2015, arriving 2016 (God willing!)
This is such a beautiful pilgrimage and you are really doing it justice here. Thank you. I look forward to reading the rest of it.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
The elevation changes don't let up, do they. It hardly seems possible that you have only 6 days left. You should be fit as a fiddle at this point! Buon Cammino my friend!!
Thank you! I am beginning to think the official elevation numbers might be overestimated. Today was about the same ascent as the Napoleon route on the CF but I didn’t find it that challenging. Or maybe I’ve just reached peak camino zen 🤣
 
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muddy-mama

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021 CF
2022 CP coastal
Great posts. I am planning to do Assisi next March/April. I am not finding much information on the route, I have found a 2019 accommodation list, but nothing up to date. I have lots of questions to ask but will wait for you to finish
 

Pelerina

Camino Walker
Time of past OR future Camino
Since 2011, ongoing.
Great posts. I am planning to do Assisi next March/April. I am not finding much information on the route, I have found a 2019 accommodation list, but nothing up to date. I have lots of questions to ask but will wait for you to finish
Hi @muddy-mama - you might also like to look at Sandy Brown’s website. He is the author of a Via di Francesco guidebook and has other resources on his website. 😎


And this site

 
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muddy-mama

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021 CF
2022 CP coastal
Hi @muddy-mama - you might also like to look at Sandy Brown’s website. He is the author of a Via di Francesco guidebook and has other resources on his website. 😎


And this site

Thank you for the information. The information I have got is from Sandy Browns website from 2019 and the latest edition of his book was also 2019. The other website looks very interesting looking forward to reading it.
Thanks Muddy-mama
 

Pelerina

Camino Walker
Time of past OR future Camino
Since 2011, ongoing.
Thank you for the information. The information I have got is from Sandy Browns website from 2019 and the latest edition of his book was also 2019. The other website looks very interesting looking forward to reading it.
Thanks Muddy-mama
I was in touch with Sandy just a few days ago. He is going to publish an update to his Via di Francesco guidebook but he said it will be late 2023.

But no doubt @jungleboy will have the most recent ‘on the ground’ experience 😎
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 15: Poggio Bustone - Rieti: ~18km

One of the things that differentiates the Via di Francesco from the Camino de Santiago is the proliferation of sites relating to the life of the saint throughout the pilgrimage, in addition to the final destination. Virtually every day on this route, there’s a hermitage, sanctuary or monastery that holds some significance in the Franciscan story, in addition to the many churches named after him.

Today’s such site was one of my favourites: the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Foresta. In 1225, Francis visited the small chapel here (the apse of which, adorned with frescoes the following century, still survives in today’s enlarged church) and slept in an adjacent cave. Today a group of pious but lay people operate the site in addition to working with and helping addicts in the region. One of them, Alberto, took me around the grounds of the sanctuary, including to the vegetable patch and the 200-year-old bread oven, and I really enjoyed the visit.

B78771A9-E6D8-4EDD-A764-3F7B25EA1728.jpeg

Apart from the sanctuary, today’s stage was short and easy by the standards of this cammino. The village of Cantalice is spectacularly perched on a hillside (though I arrived just as the sun was rising behind it and couldn’t get a good photo), and the trail featured the now-typical mountain/forest scenery.

Today’s overnight stop, Rieti, is traditionally considered the centre of Italy. It has city walls, several impressive churches and a vast network of underground rooms and tunnels, but I think the city’s most photogenic attraction is the geese that hang out on the ruins of a Roman bridge in the middle of the river!

8DCC13CC-1F75-417F-9282-181C7915BF05.jpeg
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Great posts. I am planning to do Assisi next March/April. I am not finding much information on the route, I have found a 2019 accommodation list, but nothing up to date. I have lots of questions to ask but will wait for you to finish
Thank you, I’ll be finished on Tuesday so fire away then!
 

John Gilliland

The Pilgrim Continues
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Day 15: Poggio Bustone - Rieti: ~18km

One of the things that differentiates the Via di Francesco from the Camino de Santiago is the proliferation of sites relating to the life of the saint throughout the pilgrimage, in addition to the final destination. Virtually every day on this route, there’s a hermitage, sanctuary or monastery that holds some significance in the Franciscan story, in addition to the many churches named after him.

Today’s such site was one of my favourites: the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Foresta. In 1225, Francis visited the small chapel here (the apse of which, adorned with frescoes the following century, still survives in today’s enlarged church) and slept in an adjacent cave. Today a group of pious but lay people operate the site in addition to working with and helping addicts in the region. One of them, Alberto, took me around the grounds of the sanctuary, including to the vegetable patch and the 200-year-old bread oven, and I really enjoyed the visit.

View attachment 135247

Apart from the sanctuary, today’s stage was short and easy by the standards of this cammino. The village of Cantalice is spectacularly perched on a hillside (though I arrived just as the sun was rising behind it and couldn’t get a good photo), and the trail featured the now-typical mountain/forest scenery.

Today’s overnight stop, Rieti, is traditionally considered the centre of Italy. It has city walls, several impressive churches and a vast network of underground rooms and tunnels, but I think the city’s most photogenic attraction is the geese that hang out on the ruins of a Roman bridge in the middle of the river!

View attachment 135248
My wife and I walked this last year at this time and I agree that the Foresta sanctuary is amazing. To stand at the altar where Francis celebrated and to see the kitchen is just so powerful.
 
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LavanyaLea

Active Member
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Frances (May/June 2022)
Are they good for hornet stings and dog bites too?
I know people often mix rose hip with nettles for tea…. Nettle leaves… if you be careful with them and don’t get stung, are good antihistamines! So will work for the hornet stings… for the dog bite, plantain leaf has both antiseptic as well as a soothing/analgesic effect…

Or just take antihistamine tablet and apply antiseptic cream to the wounds 😅
 

Pelerina

Camino Walker
Time of past OR future Camino
Since 2011, ongoing.
@jungleboy As well as the fascinating history and wonderful scenery you are sharing with us, I like your stages. Looks like you’re averaging around 25 kms with a few shorter days - giving plenty of time to explore the interesting towns and villages. We concluded after our most recent camino that 25 is the sweet spot for us - a solid day of walking, without feeling exhausted. And that on the quieter routes, that distance seems to take less time than on the busy routes, even in difficult terrain. Maybe to do with the lack of cafes! 😎 Grazie Mille ❤️🇮🇹❤️
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
@jungleboy As well as the fascinating history and wonderful scenery you are sharing with us, I like your stages.
Thank you! I am using the official stages as a basic framework but on the northern route, two of them were 35km+ followed by a short day, so we split those stages more evenly, while on the southern route some of the stages are very short, so I have combined two into one twice. I’ve been happy with the length/rhythm for the reasons you suggested.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 16 - Rieti - Fonticelli: ~42km

Today I left before sunrise and arrived after sunset — a marathon stage, literally.

I set out early from Rieti this morning and soon reached the 100km to go marker, normally a significant milestone on the Camino de Santiago but one which doesn’t mean as much here. The morning walk was in foggy/overcast conditions and on or near a busy road for some time, so it felt quite unlike the Via di Francesco that I have come to know and love over the past two weeks.

There were some nice forest stretches here and there and a Roman bridge, but by the time I arrived in Poggio San Lorenzo at about midday, I felt like it hadn’t been a great stage and there wasn’t much to entice me to stay in the village. So I pressed on, aiming to go a bit further but not knowing that I was going to walk the entirety of tomorrow’s stage this afternoon.

9D91EBF9-22F7-443D-B2E7-FFC5F7CCDD9B.jpeg

The afternoon walk was more pleasant, with some enchanting forest sections, an intriguing medieval church that was unfortunately closed (Santa Vittoria), and olive groves that brought back memories of those two wonderful days between Foligno and Spoleto.

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I wanted to stop at Poggio Moiano at about 32km but the accommodation options were not open. With little choice, I pressed on to Fonticelli, arriving at about 7pm and finishing my day’s walk as I had started it — in the dark.
 
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Pelerina

Camino Walker
Time of past OR future Camino
Since 2011, ongoing.
Yikes! That’s long. Bravo. And just when I commented on liking your stages 😎. I’ll make a note of that one and potential scarcity of accommodation.

Hope you will have a more relaxing next stage. ❤️ 🇮🇹 🙏
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many to count!
Rieti - Ponticelli: ~42km
Yikes!! Glad I wasn't along for that ride.

I wanted to stop at Poggio Moiano at about 32km but the accommodation options were not open.
Really?? How horrible. Google maps shows four accommodations there. A bus/train/taxi/hitch hiking, anything but my feet would have been my choice!

But once again you survived to tell the tale. At this pace you have less than two days and you will be at Vatican City! Godspeed my friend!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Thanks for the encouragement! To be honest it was fine. I felt good physically (despite minor shin splints), enjoyed the challenge and it was weirdly exhilarating to walk double the length of my intended stage. I was a bit worried about accommodation at one point but I managed to book a place about two hours from the end, so from then on it was fine.

‘Dark to dark’ sounds worse than it is with sunrise at 7:30am and sunset at 6:20pm at the moment — it makes it sound gloomy but the main reason I mentioned it was as a literary device to bring the end of the story back to the beginning.

I’ll make a note of that one and potential scarcity of accommodation.
There’s a place at Poggio San Lorenzo (the official end of stage) and a B&B a bit off the camino further on from that but I wanted to go further.

Really?? How horrible. Google maps shows four accommodations there. A bus/train/taxi/hitch hiking, anything but my feet would have been my choice!
I called both numbers for the Ostello di San Martino and didn’t get an answer (plus you are supposed to reserve 24 hours ahead). I called the hotel in town and the lady said no for one person (I guess they were closed and might have opened for more people if it was worth their while). She said there was nowhere else in town even though there are two vacation homes listed. There are several agriturismi in the area so I called a few of them but something seemed to go wrong with my phone and the calls weren’t working. So I just kept going and eventually managed to successfully call Il Viandante in Fonticelli, which is a great place.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
But once again you survived to tell the tale. At this pace you have less than two days and you will be at Vatican City! Godspeed my friend!
Funny you should mention that. Two days ago I said I didn’t want this to end but when you are within 100km, the destination has a way of looming large over you, and when that destination is Rome, even more so. I am now excited about arriving, even though I’ve already been to Rome twice on this trip.

Once I pushed on past Poggio San Lorenzo yesterday I began to think I could reach Rome on Monday instead of Tuesday (and then when yesterday turned into two whole stages, that was confirmed). Arriving a day earlier has a couple of advantages for me, so I was happy with that consequence of the marathon day.

Also during yesterday’s stage, I began thinking about my approach to Rome on the final day. The last stage is 15km in a bit of a roundabout way and I’ve heard it’s not great (as you would expect going through the suburbs of a major city). Once at St. Peter’s, I’d have to find somewhere to store my bag before going through security to visit the church and receive the testinonium, then walk 6km further to my friend’s place where I’ll be staying (by that point I could just take the metro but that feels weird).

That doesn’t sound super great to me so instead I came up with a different idea. Monte Sacro (the usual final night’s stay) is at the end of the Via Nomentana, one of the main avenues leading out of the centre of Rome. Instead of looping all the way around to the Vatican for 15km, it’s only about 5km directly down Via Nomentana to the Termini area and only 9km in total, rather than 21km, to my friend’s house in Re di Roma. One of my favourite medieval churches in Rome (St Agnes Outside the Walls) is on the Via Nomentana and three of the seven pilgrim churches in Rome (Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and San Giovanni in Laterano) are also essentially on the way, so I could visit one or more of them to allow me to conclude the pilgrimage at a major church before going to St Peter’s the following day for the testimonium.

The upshot of all that is that with only a 9km final stage, I can combine it with the previous stage of 18km, and that means instead of saving one day, it’s suddenly two days, and I will be in Rome tomorrow! Plus my favourite restaurant is also on that route so I can swing by for lunch!
 
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Pilgrim 122

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
camino frances 2012
Le puy route 2013
London to Santiago via Camino Norte 2014 , 2015, arriving 2016 (God willing!)
42 km in one day!! There is no way I could do that, you must be super fit. I had a bit of trouble with accomodation on this section even though I had booked before I left home. The B&B near Poggio San Lorenzo cancelled the evening before but I stayed in another B&B a little further on.
For the last day I did what you are planning, I just walked down the via Nomentana much quicker, and although busy there is a pavement and all those great churches. Enjoy the last couple of days!
 

Pelerina

Camino Walker
Time of past OR future Camino
Since 2011, ongoing.
Hi @jungleboy - I appreciated reading your 'thought processes' which led to your new plan. Might sound strange, but this sort of 'problem solving' is one of the aspects I really enjoy on Camino, particularly when walking some of the quieter routes, where distances and available (or unavailable) accommodation present regular challenges. Revisiting our plans, weighing up alternatives and adapting 'on the go' can be most rewarding. And more often than not the 'new plan' we arrive at turns out to be just right. Happy days.

P.S. V interested to know your favourite restaurant in Rome.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
42 km in one day!! There is no way I could do that, you must be super fit.
Not super fit but I feel pretty strong. That was the longest day I’ve ever done and it might be the last chance I’ll have to ‘walk my age’!

For the last day I did what you are planning, I just walked down the via Nomentana much quicker, and although busy there is a pavement and all those great churches. Enjoy the last couple of days!
Oh how interesting! Here I was thinking I’d come up with a genius idea but I’m just following your intrepid footsteps! I’m really happy to have chosen this option and can’t wait to arrive tomorrow.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Hi @jungleboy - I appreciated reading your 'thought processes' which led to your new plan. Might sound strange, but this sort of 'problem solving' is one of the aspects I really enjoy on Camino, particularly when walking some of the quieter routes, where distances and available (or unavailable) accommodation present regular challenges. Revisiting our plans, weighing up alternatives and adapting 'on the go' can be most rewarding. And more often than not the 'new plan' we arrive at turns out to be just right. Happy days.
Agree! I had a long time yesterday to think about this and I’m very happy with the new plan!

P.S. V interested to know your favourite restaurant in Rome.
Rifugio Romano. It’s not in the most atmospheric area of town (near Termini station), but it’s very popular and virtually requires a booking. The booking system is a bit clunky though; you have to make a request on their website and wait until they get back to you manually. Fingers crossed they have room for me tomorrow!
 
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