September 12

Got lost and added 2 hours to today’s walk. Checked out some Etruscans. The rudest pilgrim host to date. Might not take my day off tomorrow.  Lots of Angry Laurenzi today!

Up and ready to leave the fine monastery of St Peter by 7am. See Brazilian couple whilst eating breakfast in a cafe. In an odd sort of dance they replaced Vaclav and I at the cafe table.

Got immediately lost exiting the old centre. None of the streets mentioned in the guide appeared on Google Maps. Hopeless really. Went too far West and spent the day correcting the error. A four hour journey took six. Angry with myself as well as my travelling companion’s lack of money sense and engagement with the details of the route. He’s aware that he’s on his own tomorrow.

Missed the Roman road Ex Cassia Antica. Which also annoys me. Caught another Roman road, a very long, straight gravel track with the occasional bend in it, all the way south until we find a eastward track . This latter route is surprisingly long, takes an hour longer than the map suggests.

We reach the outskirts of town around noon and it’s filthy. The motorway underpass has become a large rubbish pile. The hostel takes another hour to reach, and the sun is at its hottest. I can taste the pollution. Earlier a military helicopter hovered over us repeatedly as we walked past the base’s fence. My luck to get arrested for looking the wrong way. I kept an eye on V in case he decides to take pictures of the base!

The pilgrim host is as obese as he is rude. Got immediate shrift from me which probably helped; that, and I spoke to him in Italian. Later Luke and Nell would be treated really badly at his hands. He continued his rudeness even after I was asked to help translate. Ironically he kept saying he was late for his lunch. In my mind he’s already had far too many lunches! No ID docs are asked for, which is odd and no forms to complete….is someone on the take? Is there an Italian equivalent to Crimewatch?

Go into town and it’s like a dirty version of the Spanish district of Naples. I am saddened and disappointed by just how dirty the place is.  A quick plate of pasta and were off! Bump into the two Brazilians  and one of them is covered in similar bites to me but her’s are everywhere. Some talk of bed bugs but who knows.

Cathedral is really interesting architecturally, it’s almost brutalist grey exterior, which would sit happily in Aberdeen, is balanced by five airy domes inside. I found the side chapels uninspiring, all that is except one….There’s a mummy of Santa Rosa, the local notable from the 12thC. It’s macabre to say the least. It put me off lighting candles for my parents! Her heart and intestines are in special reliquies. The Catholic custom of such things comes across as very odd.

Next stop the national archaeology museum. Very interesting but the staff hopeless. The Etruscan exhibits are really interesting but it lacks proper context ie what was happening in the peninsula at the time, known languages, range of influences other than Greek. When I ask about the Etruscan language the unhelpful woman shrugs and tells me nobody knows. So enlightening!

Grab an ice cream and head back to get some belated rest and to book accomodation for Vaclav. Chat to Luke and Nell for a bit, who tell of an alternative route which bypasses Vetralla; instead follows the rim of an extinct volcano which hosts lago Vico. If Viterbo had been a little nicer I would now be happy to have a day off! I’ll let you know what I decide to do, tomorrow.

Meet the Swiss couple in the dark as we head for dinner. The waiter is thoroughly irritating but the food good. Wanted to mention to V that he owes me money but then he gives me a tiny Russian doll as a parting gift.

Really tired but can’t sleep just yet. So writing this post helps me prep for bed. Funny going to bed without a plan in place. New territory for me. I’ll let the dream process decide!

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