Monday, July 9, 2012

The first post of our last few days walk into Rome.

Yes we are in Rome!  However, due to time constraints I will have to do this blog in two stages so please bear with me!

To go back to where I left off last ime.  We had a lot of trouble leaving Viterbo, which was probably just as well, as we saw it in a different light and found we really quite liked it!  Despite leaving very early it actually took us over an hour to find our way out of the town, because we kept loosing the arrows.  Once we had done so we were on our way along little country roads which went past olive groves and  through rocky embankment  and into the country.  We didn't see any towns or villages for most of the day. 

A narrow road leaving Viterbo.

The path wound around through fields and right through the middle of hazelnut groves (or is it orchards?).  It was hot and dusty, but we managed to find ourselves a couple of nice rest spots in the shade and arrived in Vetralla at a reasonable hour.

The blue waymark on a rock at a path junction ....

..... and the hot dusty path to follow!

We met an Italian woman who sang the praises of the town and recommended the hotel attached to the bar as a good place to stay.  We wandered around the town - as usual on top of a hill - and found no other option and returned to the bar.  We had seen signs for the Albergo (hotel) Beneddittino, but ingnored them because it meant we would retrace our steps!  When we asked for a room in the bar we were ushered out to a car and driven - yes - the Albergo Benedditino!  As it turned out it was quite convenient, and we had a nice room, with a reduced rate because we were leaving before breakfast.  We had dinner in the bar, and met the Italian woman again and her friends.  We were the topic of converstation and they kept looking in our direction, using the word Autralian frequently! One of the guests told us that we were lucky to be able to visit Italy, and then go home - she obviously was not happy with things at present! 

Our hotel in Vetralla.

The crypt at the the Chiesa (Church) of S Francesco

Some of the floor mosaics in the same church .......

........ and one of the 15th Century Fresoces.

After Vetralla we headed off to to stay in Sutri.  Today's path wound through and across hazlenut groves, and we had a warning from fellow pilgrim Netia's blog that there was some tricky navigation involved for this day, so we were particularly alert (but not afraid!), and finished the day quite successfully.  By now my foot was getting quite sore and we had a back up plan that if I was too sore we would catch a bus for the last 6 kms.  As it turned out, both of us felt fine and so we walked, despite the heat, the whole way, stopping for lunch in yet another hilltop town - Capranica!   At the bottom of the hill we came across a fountain where there was a steady stream of people filling water bottles.  This was a sign that the water was good, and so I did the same, having a drink of lovely cold water, which stayed cool for most of the next 6kms!

Just one of the hazlenut groves we passed.

Caprancia - our lunch time stop.

A view from one of our peaceful rest stops.
Resting on a wall before plodding on.

The fountain, flowing with fresh cool water, where I filled my water bottle. 

Sutri was the last place where we stayed in specific pilgrim accomodation.  We stayed in the Carmelite Convent, entering through the front door into a foyer, where a Nun spoke to us through a wooden grille.  We put our pilgrim passports, our real passport, and €24 onto a carousel which the nun swung around, stamping our pilgrim passport, putting the key on it, and our passports and returning it to us. She told us the number of the hostel, which I promptly forgot, and Elizabeth changed to 24!  When we couldn't find 24 we had to go back and ask the number again, and this time 2 doors up at 23 we found our room!  Elizabeth had to give me a bit of assistance through the door as it was so narrow (like a lot of doors have been I might add) and then I had to climb to the top of the stairs to find the light switch before she shut the door otherwise it was pitch black inside! 

Elizabeth leaving through the narrow convent doorway.

Sutri is also a very old place - with lots of associations with the Etruscans and the Romans. when we left the next morning we explored the Roman part of the town as it was at the base of the hill.  The Necropolis was particularly interesting.  Much of the area we have been walking through is volcanic in origin and so there are many "caves" in the rock - partly because it is fairly easy to cut, but some of them are because they were naturally formed.  The necropolis is a series of ancient tombs, and the Romans used the rock to make a fascinating amphitheatre. 

Arriving at Sutri

The public laundry (lavoir, in french) in Sutri.

Sutri's Roman Amphitheatre.

The Necropolis at Sutri

Today was to be the day where we had a little assistance, as my feet were only just going to make it!  We caught the bus to Monterosi, and form there walked to Campagnno di Roma.  For much of this walk we had no idea where we were, as the path seemed to bear no relationship to the map that I had!  Much of the walk today was on roads, with just the last part on a very dusty track and it seemed long and hard!  Added to this the walk today had a continual background hum, and Adelaide people will know what I mean when I say that the hum was due to a race track being near by!  We passed the Monte Gelato falls along the way, and it was temting to stop for longer and bathe our feet, but we pushed on.  This is obviously a favourite picnic spot for the locals. 

Monte Gelato Falls.

Walking into Campagno di Roma

Getting closer to Campagno di Roma.

We passed no places where we could stop and have a drink and buy some food, and so we were very glad to get to Campagno - which of course was at the top of a steep hill!   We were quite surprised by this village - it was REALLY old, the streets narrow, twisted, and steep.  We came in at the old end of the town walking into the more modern part.  After some hunting around I asked a police officer if there was a tourist office in town and she said no, but what did I want.  When I explained that we needed a stamp for our pilgim credentials I was instructed to "follow me"!  She continued her conversation with her friend while Elaizabeth and I trailed behind into the police station, where we were given a stamp.  She was a delightful young woman who had a "dream" to one day go to Australia, and who spoke her self taught English with a beautiful English accent.  She was delighted to practice with us, and we were full of praise for her. 

The more modern end of Campagno di Roma

Lunch was the next thing on the agenda and it was just as well that it was a reasonable one as it turned out!  We left the reasaurant, crossed the road and hopped straight on to a bus to La Storta.  A Nigerian man argued with the driver on our behalf when we had to pay €7 each for the fare, but we didn't mind, as it was much cheaper than a taxi, and by the way people got on the bus we were subsidising everyone else!  There were only about 4 passengers who validated tickets, so one had to assume that the others were on for a free ride!   

When we got to La Storta we booked a room over the internet in a hotel which was in a "park like setting only 2.5 kms from the town"!  We walked on the busy road to it, arriving over an hour later, and deciding that an Italian description of park, and and Australian one were very different.  Fortunately we had the foresight to buy some pizza before leaving town because there was nothing at the hotel, other than a self serve machine with a few chocolates etc!  I was quite cranky when we arrived because it was a hot and dangerous walk along the road and I was dreading having to walk it the next morning.  The manager of the hotel offered to drive us into town the next morning and it took him 4 minutes to drive us what took us about an hour and a quarter to walk!.  The poor man had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  When I asked him if there was an internet he informed me there was one in town (the road we had just walked!), and then the next morning he asked us if we wanted the train station and nearly laughed when we said we were going to walk into Rome!   

I'm stopping here and will tell you next time about our arrival in Rome.  I have also updated the last post with photos. 

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