Sunday, July 1, 2012

On the way again, but feeling the heat.

It is only 5 days since we left Siena, but it seems an age ago!  It was sad to leave Carol behind, but she needs to get back to her family, and so now we are back to two. 

 Now there are two - Elizabeth and Janet departing Siena.

The heat wave is continuing to wreak havoc with how far we walk each day.  Normally I would feel very comfortable walking anywhere from 25 - 35 kilometres, however the heat just sucks away our energy and 20 kilomtres is a long day, and 25 seems like a marathon!

The initial plan on leaving Siena was to catch the bus to Buonconvento, which we did.  The wonderfully helfull girl in the tourist office tried to track down the priest so that we could stay in the pilgrim refuge, but there were some difficulties.  This meant we had a sudden change of plan and rushed out and caught the next bus to San Quirico D'Orcia, where we did get a bed in the pilgrim refuge, along with 25 "children" from a church youth group and about 6 of their leaders, and Xaviour, another pilgrim from Switzerland. The leaders were wonderful, promising to keep the "children" quiet.  Mind you the children were all 15 -16 years old!  I have to say they were very quiet, so much so that I didn't even hear them going to bed.  They had every reason to be boisterous too as it was the night that Italy played Germany in the soccer showdown and Italy unexpectedly won.

To try and avoid the heat we have been leaving very early in the morning, and leaving San Quirico D'Orcia was the first of these days.  We were  up at 4.45, and just grabbed our gear and trundled downstairs and packed out in the piazza in order not to disturb the others who were still sound asleep.  San Quirico is a delightful town and has a very geometrical garden adjacent to it's walls.  We really enjoyed the town and the people. 
 The delightful garden at San Quirico D'Orcia.

The priest was very thorough in recording all our details, and so if the police happened to be looking for us he would be a good starting point!   He was also exceptionally thorough in telling us about the next day's walk.  He warned us that it was going to be very hot, no shade, no water, and it was a desert.  He hasn't been to Australia!  Yes, it was desolate, but by no stretch of the imagination could it be called a desert.  He also warned us that if we saw any sheep under no circumstances were we to approach them because it would be dangerous.  It turns out that it is not the sheep that are dangerous, but the dogs that look after them.  So long as you ignore both the dogs and the sheep you are safe, but approach the sheep and then the danger scale rises at a rapid rate!  He was not the only one to warn us of this danger, as the next day a taxi driver did the same thing. 
 I told a furphy when I said these little machines were blue and green!  
  Here are an orange, turquoise, and a pink one lined up outside the walls in san Quirico.

We were also instructed not to be distracted and spend any more than 15 minutes at a little village of Bagno  Vignoni.  We actually did spend a little longer as this was where we stopped and had a picnic breakfast.  This village only has a population of about 30 people, and is a medieval spa village, with stone lined thermal pools.  This is one of the places that the pilgrims would have stopped at on their way to Rome.  We saw the water bubbling up in the main boday of the pools, which are no longer used - they are a bit slimy these days.  Instead people go to the hotel for a spa and health treatment, and the hot streams higher above the village can be accessed by the public. 
Stone lined medieval thermal pools, Bagno Vignoni
Though desolate, the road was far from desert!
 The farmers were busy harvesting in some of the paddocks.

Because of the number of people who would be trying to get pilgrim accomodation this night Elizabeth and I changed our destination from San Quirico and instead of pushing on to Radicofani we stopped at Bagni San Fillipo.  Because of the heat, after we had walked about 20kms, we hitched a ride to San Fillipo.  Here we had a real treat as the hotel we had booked into, the only one in the village I might add, gave us free access to the mineral pool!  Thus, these two weary pilgrims relaxed at the side of a mineral pool swimming for the permitted 20 minutes several times and then rushing out after a fantastic breakfast the next day for one more "bath" before beginning the days walk again.

 The mineral pool at Bagni San Fillipo.

Bagni San Filippo is a very little village, and judging by the people at the baths it is very much an Italian tourist place, rather than an international tourist place.  As far as I could tell Elizabeth and I were the only english speaking visitors.  It was fascinating people watching at the pool, and in the hotel.  The hotel was reminiscent of what I imagine a 1930's spa to have been like.  There was art work on the walls, tapestries and paintings in the corridors, and each room number had a little painting around it.  Age and shape make no difference as to whether you wear a two piece bathing suit if you are an Italian woman - suffice it to say that Elizabeth and I were the only ones in a one piece!  Likewise the men are very fond of skimpy bathers too!

The hotel corridor - reminiscent of a 30's style spa. 

All room numbers had individual art work. 

The luxury accomodation has continued, the heatwave is still continuing, and we are managing to walk early each day to avoid it.  But that is another story, as I am now off to bed in order to enjoy my rest day tomorrow. 

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