Monday, 16 March 2020

Way of St. Francis: Assisi to Rome

View from Trevi - luckily the clouds cleared soon
 The sections after Assisi were so close to civilization that wild camping was difficult and I opted for another hotel stay in Trevi. Between the two towns I passed close by to a Decathlon store and hurried inside to buy another gas canister and a replacement fleece cap for the one I had lost a couple of days earlier. As sunset was approaching I rushed through the aisles, grabbed a cap and went to check out. When it got dark and cold one hour later I took it out of my backpack - and discovered that I had bought a child's cap that did not fit my head at all ….

Next day I hurried up the mountain of Monteluco because I wanted to attend the evening service in the old hermitage there and arrived just in time to see the monks settle into their chairs - most of them with a smartphone in their habit. I left in the dark and miraculously found a wonderful campsite in the otherwise steep area. Next morning I got up early and descended into the town of Spoleto where I was looking for the cathedral in a maze of narrow cobbled streets. I was already getting annoyed because I could not find it - when I turned my gaze and looked right onto its majestic white facade. So early in the morning no tourists were in the plaza and I had the huge church almost for myself.

In the next section the Way of St. Francis passes the artificial waterfalls of Marmore which were not supposed to be running in winter - at least according to their website. But when I came closer I heard water rushing and could not believe my eyes: I had just arrived at the view point when water had been released from the man made reservoir on top of the mountain opposite. Roman emperors had already begun the constructions of these waterfalls which became a popular motif for artists in the 18th century. Unfortunately the official trail next to the falls was closed and my gpx track did not show the correct detour around them. After eventually finding the right way it had already started getting dark. My planned wild camping area was guarded by several loudly barking dogs and therefore I decided to hike on. This was probably my longest day of this trip because I only settled into my tent at 10 pm - at a site hidden by blackberry bushes. No cars passed by the entire night and morning - but of course when I was doing my morning constitutional two trucks came by hopefully not noticing me ….

Another long day took me into Rieti where I had booked myself into a B&B. When I arrived at the address given on the booking platform I doubted my choice: It was an old dilapidated house in the old part of Rieti. I even had to phone the landlady, a very elegantly dressed signora who took me up several neglected flights of stairs. I was expecting the worst when she opened the door to the guest apartment - and could not believe my eyes: Inside was a beautifully restored medieval palazzo which could have been on the cover of Architectural Digest! This wonderful place even had central heating and a brand new bathroom - and cost a mere 35 Euro!

I had wanted to spend the next night in the monastery of Greccio which was unfortunately closed during winter season. I hiked on in total darkness and found a wonderful sheltered camping spot on the mountains above the monastery. It had such a warm microclimate that I was not in the least cold at night although up on the plateau even big water puddles were completely frozen over! I was greeted by this wonderful sunrise in the morning. I had perfect timing that day: The forecasted heavy thunderstorm hit right then when I was visiting the hermitage of Sacro Santo.
I had booked myself into a cheap hotel in Calvi dell Umbria where I was the only guest. Carlotta, the owner and chef opened the restaurant just for me and served a wonderful three course dinner - I even splurged on wine! My last full hiking day brought me through many olive groves and to Fara en Sabina, an old monastery and National Monument of Italy which can only be visited with a guided tour. Despite being such a popular tourist spot the tour guide did not speak a single word of English and made no effort whatsoever to make herself understood - such a disappointment. At least my accommodation that night in Montelibretti was great!

I should have finished my hike there because Montelibretti is well connected with local trains to Rome. Instead I chose to hike another - rather disappointing day. I encountered several wild garbage dumps - and the first other pilgrim of this trip! From Mentana I took the bus to Rome and riding the pilgrimage route into town I can assure you that it is not worth hiking! In Rome I had booked myself into another monastery and spent three great days sightseeing in the eternal city before eventually flying back to Germany.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Liebe Christine, wie geht es Ihnen heute 29.3.20 in Italien? Können Sie dort überhaupt noch wandern? Ich musste oft an Sie denken, da ich Sie seit Jahren mental auf Ihre Touren begleite. Ist es Ihnen überhaupt noch möglich in Italien zu sein, ausserhalb von Städten? Ich wünsche Ihnen nur das Beste, bleiben Sie weiterhin gesund und bleiben Sie unterwegs! Herzliche Grüße aus dem Allgäu, Corina

Inge said...

Das mit dem ganzen Müll ist wirklich schlimm finde ich.Aber ansonsten eine tolle Reportage und ein super Trip.Ganz besonders gefällt mir deine klasse Rhetorik !Mach bitte weiter so!Grüße Inge

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