Monday, July 2, 2012

A rest day at last, and most enjoyable too!

After our special time in Bagni San Filippo and the mineral pool we decided that we would take the implied advice from the priest and get up the very steep 8 km climb to Radocofani by some other means than our feet!  We wanted to get to the top as early as we could, but stll stop and have breakfast and a swim and so the only option for us was to catch a taxi!  On the way up the hill we passed a big dog on the roadside and this caused our taxi driver to give a long spiel about how dangerous the dogs were guarding the sheep and to avoid them at all costs!

At the top of the hill there is a castle and a delightful village called Radicofani.  We set off from here after a second breakfast, even though our only excertion thus far had been to gentle swim in the mineral pool, and began the equally long descent to Ponte a Rigo where we intended to stay the night.  Much of this descent was in the full sun, and it was not till we reached the valley floor that we got the benefit of some shade.  At the bottom of the hill (some 10kms later) we lolled around under the shade of a big ficus, admiring the view of the paddocks opposite which had large bales / rolls of hay on them.  As we walked past a big shed we could smell sheep, and looking back over the hills and the path we had walked while we rested, we could see them all hearded together on the side of the hill.  We couldn't distinguish the dogs, but as they are usually white that is no surprise!

  Leaving Radicofani, with it's castle atop the hill.

And the path continues  .........

Arriving at Ponte a Rigo our plans changed pretty quickly.  It transpired that our accomodation that night was going to be in a shipping container at the back of the church and neither of us fancied being cooped up in that after such a hot day.  It looked as if there was no place to buy food at first, though we found a bar around the corner, and decided that we would hitch on to the next place and stay in a hotel.  As it turned out we caught a bus and when I tried to pay, the driver just waved us on, and so our free ride at the end of the day helped balance the taxi ride at the beginning!

Elizabeth trying the door of the container refuge.

Aquapendente is a lovely town - very old, and as usual full of twisty, steep, narrow streets.  For once we were actually able to wander around the town and enjoy it instead of being too exhausted from the heat.  Because it was a Saturday the place was buzzing with activity, especially the main square where Elizabeth and I found a bar and sat down to do some people watching.

 Time to explore the streets of Aquapendente!

We had found a really nice 3 star hotel  and made good use of the huge variety of toiletries that they had on offer!  Our window looked out onto a delightful square with a number of fountains.  When we left for a walk it was a quiet peaceful place, but on our way back an hour or so later it was in the process of changing into a party venue, and when we returned after dinner the noise and activity was in full swing!  Suffice it to say that the night was not quite as quiet and peaceful as we had hoped, though I didn't mind it - the music was varied, though loud, and I was so tired I slept through most of it anyway.

 A party time line - late afternoon, after we arrived -
the view from our bedroom window.
....... about 1-2 hours later
 .....3 hours later, in full swing
 ...about 7 hours later, at dawn - our window is the bottom balcony at the back! 

Since late April I have been following 2 Australian pilgrims - Netia and Jo.  I know this from 2 ways - one being a post on my blog some time ago, and the other because I have seen their names in books that they have signed as they have stayed in the same places as us.   Up until now I have not met them as they have been about 4 days ahead, but Aquapedente was the place where our paths crossed, and as it turned out we were actually staying in the same hotel.  You can imagine the chatter as four Autralian women and one poor Swiss pilgrim - Xaviour - sat down over dinner! Our paths have continued to cross, though they have now moved on and are a day ahead at this stage.

Four Autralian pilgrims and one Swiss.
 Netia, Jo, Xaviour, Elizabeth and Janet

An early start the next day saw us arriving in the wonderful town of Bolsena, on the shores of a volcanic lake, by lunch time.  This has been our rest day today and so we shouted ourselves two nights of luxury in a FOUR star hotel!  Strangely though this has been the cheapest of all the hotels we have had over the past four nights.  The treat with this place is that it is on the shores of the lake, has it's own swimming pool, and for the first time in weeks we have actually heard some world news (on BBC TV) - in English!  

Now, I am not sure where to begin when talking about Bolsena.  It is an "antique" city as one man called it tonight, complete with a castle and the usual steep, narrow streets, crooked buildings, churches and bells and well cared for gardens.  This medieval part of the city is on the slopes of a hill and the streets are very steep - only steps in some parts.  As we arrived in this part of the city we had a drink at a wine bar (only aqua!) and sat on bench seats outside which clung to the side of the building.  I put my pack down very carefully in case it went rolling down the steps to the next level!  We were very glad to arrive in this part of the city as we had been walking through fields and past olive groves for a number of hours (including the half hour when we got lost!) and every corner we came around we expected to see the village, but iut never seemed to get any closer!

Lake Bolsena from our table at lunch!
 The medieval part of the village,
As we walked down through the medieval village we came to the newer part of the town and got closer to the lake.  This part of the village is the part that cars can drive in, and it is also a pciteresque par too.  I will always think of this part of our walk and this town in particular as the hydrangea town.  Hydrangeas seem to be the trade mark / symbol of the village.  They are growing everywhere - blue hydrangeas next to pink ones, dark ones next to pale ones and in between a fair sprinkling of white ones, lace ones and oak leaved ones.  With the heat some are wilting a little, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of them being watered and so I can only assume that they must have some access to the  water table.  They grow along the shores of the lake, along with big pots of geraniums and petunias.  When the breeze has sprung up in the afternoon the lake gets quite choppy and sitting by the shore eating dinner, followed by a walk to buy a  gelati, I could imagine the sound of the waves being the sea, only there is no sea smell, and no seagulls!

 Hydrangeas from our bedroom window.

As you might gather, I think this place is delightful.  Though there are some tourists it doesn't seem to be a big tourist town or a holiday resort.  The marina seems to have mostly little boats that are like the sort of boat a family would own, and it is not very big at that.

Today Elizabeht and I caught a little Council bus up into the hills to visit a little village I had read about.  Civita di Bagnoregio is a medieval village built on top of a hill.  The difference between this hilltop village and others we have been to is that it is a village that is slowly disappearing. It is built on the type of soil that, over time, erodes leaving the soil exposed, and buildings perched precariously.  Some of the streets end abruptly, with a precitpitous fall to the valley below.  The only access to the village is via a wide footbridge, once a suspension bridge, now something a bit more sturdy, but still 25 metres above the ground.  The only vehicles in the town are scooters and motor bikes though we saw one of the little 3 wheeled machines hidden away too.  As we were leaving a scooter came across the bridge laden with cartons of water bottles - all we could see was the drivers head above the packages.  The colours of the eroded soil, the hot strong wind blowing, combined with the heat and dust reminded me of the painted desert in Northern South Australia.

 Civita di Bagnoregio
 An abrupt drop on the other side of the rail!

We have had a good rest here.  Eating dinner by the lake, watching the world go by, and fitting in a number of swims in the pool.  I now have to go and have a good night's sleep as tomorrow morning we are heading to another hilltop village called Montefiascone.  The day promises to be hot, and so it will mean an early start again.

No comments:

Post a Comment