Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Up hill and down dale, and more mineral pools.

Today we left the beautiful Lake Bolsena behind.  Yesterday we climbed up a hill to stay in the village of Montefiascone, and today we descended the hill, crossed the plains and are staying in a town called Viterbo.
Leaving Lake Bolsena behind

We had all road walking yesterday, partly because for the first 10 kms it was more direct than the path, which has a tendency to go the long way round if there is a choice.  The path followed the Lake shore until the last 5 or 6 kms when we started heading up to the hilltop town that we had been seeing from Bolsena.  I got a real surprise yesterday and feel like I have come full circle.

Nearly 3 months ago - wow, I have been on the road that long!- about 6 days out from London, I came across my first Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.  Yesterday, 6 days out from Rome, as we followed the road I came across the last Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, on the peaceful shores overlooking Lake Bolsena.  We took the winding stone path down to the cemetery, to discover that this was a 2nd world war one, to do with the Battle of Casino.  There was one Australian Grave there, and 17 New Zealanders.  I couldn't find the headstone for the Australian though and suspect it was the (only) one that had been removed for maintenance.  We found the New Zealand ones though.  A very beautiful and peaceful place.

Part of the peaceful cemetery on the shores of Lake Bolsena ........

...... and two of the New Zealand Graves.

Though we went inland from the Lake and up the hill we didn't really leave it as we had a view of it all the way up the hill, and then from Montifiascone itself.  Indeed we sat in a restaurant overlooking the lake, watching the sun sink, while we had dinner.

Montefiascone is a medieval hilltop town and lays claim to the having the Cathedral Santa Margherita which has a massive dome, apparently the 2nd largest in size to St Peter's dome in Rome.  It is a cavernous place, and when I sang in it there was a very long acoustic.  It has a castle too, along with the usual steep, staired, and narrow streets.

The dome of Cathedral Santa Margherita

Looking up into the dome

Looking across the rooftops of Montefiascone towards the Cathedral Santa Margherita

Our accomodation last night was in the Cappucini Convento, though I think there are no longer monks in residence.  The Cappucin's, I believe, are Franciscan's as there is always a Tau cross in evidence at them.  The monks might not have been there, but there was plenty of activity as there were a lot of children running riot at what must have been a residential camp.  Tonight we are in a 3 star hotel!

Elizabeth checking the key works so we could get back in after dinner!

Today we made another very early start, knowing that we would be delayed part way along the track.  Our delay, about 12 kms down the road, was because we stopped for a swim at the mineral pools just outside of Viterbo.  These pools are filled by a spring which bubbles up with crystal clear water, though it has a high mineral content and is quite warm - this whole area has seen volcanic activity over the centuries.  They are rough pools, concreted, and obviously a major attraction for the locals.  We were there about 9.00a.m., along with half a dozen others, and by the time we left there were probably in excess of 30 people there.  Some obviously go for health reasons, and others go for the social event.  The women sit and stand around in the pools nattering ninety to the dozen!   There were some men, but the vast majority were woman - of all ages.  The pools are warm, but not hot.  Other than concreting them and adding some stone and wooden seats, there is no attempt to commercialise the place - people just turn up to get the benifit -including weary pilgrims, no doubt as they have for centuries.

Water entering one of the pools

One of the springs that feeds the pools.

A scene on the way to the mineral pools.

For a long way today we also walked on a Roman road.  This is the Via Cassia, and has massive stones in it.  Parts of the road are just used as a footpath, but there are parts of it where cars use it to gain access to properties - and it is still just as good as it was several thousand years ago!

The ancient Via Cassia, with the large stones on the side channeling water
off the main part of the road. 
The kerbing is stones too, though there was some repair concrete in parts. 

Viterbo seems to us a tired town, there are a lot of shops closed, things need repair, and the gardens need water.  It is surrounded by a wall, and apparently it suffered considerable damage in the second world war.

The Viterbo Cathedral

Large stones at the bases of a building thought to be originally part of the city wall when viterbo was an Etruscan town.

Rome is getting closer!

There are only 4 days left of walking for us.  in some ways it seems like yesterday when I began in London, and in others it seems like a lifetime.  I am not sure when I will be able to post again - surprisingly the places we are going to are really small, even though we are really so close to Rome.  The plan is to walk into Rome on Sunday morning!  We have a FOUR STAR hotel booked - I think I have earnt it, and so has Elizabeth!

1 comment:

  1. Only 4 days of walking left for you but a wealth of experiences and fantastic reading for me. See you soon xx Vicki