Made it to the Eternal City. Said goodbye to folk. Made a new friend. Feet very sore. There’s flooding all round. Nearly get run over.
Up at 5am and on the road after a quick breakfast by 6. Walk down a road that has almost become an old friend, Via Cassia, for almost 5kms. Today it’s V&G, Vaclav and I. Wave the Cassia goodbye and cut down into a nature reserve, Parco Insugherata. It’s a scrappy looking place, like many European urban reserves. Most of us got bramble tears on our legs or clothes. The slope up at the other end was tough. My legs hurt, consequently my pace dropped a fair bit. A bit further along Vaclav throws his walking pole in a dumpster, which I remove, then lean it on a fence. Someone is bound to want it.
Stop for a second breakfast in the Monte Mario district. Decide not to have coffee but a sort sausage roll made with German sausage and spinach. Gave some to a beggar from Africa, who swallowed it almost without chewing. He was a hungry young man.
Follow the Triomfiale for ages and then cut through another park, MonteMario. Another steep walk up followed by a silly, steep descent. I wish I’d gone around the long way. The rest of the walk was easy and flat, swerving around bins, badly parked vehicles, and impatiently driven cars. Eventually catch the top of the famous Basilica and head straight towards it, along with countless tourists. I leave the group once we’re inside Bernini’s famous colonnade. I do a quick tour of the obelisk and rejoin the group for a hug and photos. We are the first to register for the testinonium today. A sort of certificate to confirm completion. In reality one would only need to walk from Lucca. I would have liked it to say I began in Canterbury.
Inside the Centro San Lorenzo, I recognise the artwork on the walls I’d seen in a dozen hostels across Tuscany. Then the artist Andrea turns up and we have a long chat. A sweet guy. Some of his Christian inspired monochrome work is quite beautiful.
The four of us head for a plate of pasta and a beer. I am falling asleep when I say goodbye to the three of them, to go in search of my accomodation. Irritatingly Google doesn’t recognise the address so it takes me longer to locate it than it should have!
Short nap and meet with Don, who’s kindly been looking after 2 parcels of mine, sent ahead, so that I’d have some decent clothes to change into. Don is great guy and we exchange details of our respective Italian ancestry over a beer.
I head back, excited to see what’s in the parcels. I sent them so long ago, I’d almost forgotten. Lay everything across my room and decide its too complex to decide how to repack my stuff today. Am just too tired.
I decide I fancy a kebab, so Google my options. Get dressed and head out 7.30ish. In a few minutes it’s a torrent. I’m soaked. Google no longer shows the kebab shop so head off in another direction to my second choice. In the meantime the first one re-appears on my phone screen. I am now in between two places and my blood sugar is very low and have a headache. Decide to head to my first choice and, of course, it’s no longer trading! Head towards the other, on the far side of the Vatican for choice number two and it’s bucketing. I’ve now been out an hour and besides my low blood sugar, I’m thirsty. There’s no sign of the second shop. Give up and go for a takeaway pizza. Which I order without a hitch. There’s a lovely German girl of about 8, speaking to a waiter in Italian, she tired me out, watching her dash about. Her dad was tall, large and subdued and remanded me slightly of the Panzer tankdriver in Kelly’s Hero’s.
Walking back to my accomodation when a young woman decides to overtake stationary traffic and jump a red light almost knocking me over on a crossing. Luckily you could hear the roar of the engine over the rain. I won’t repeat what Rude Laurenzi shouted, very loudly.
Ate my pizza; planned my travel to Calabria; and tried to watch a little TV. Italian TV is even worse than the US, which take some doing. The only thing I could bear to watch was a black and white 1960s production of Maria Callas, singing various pieces. That woman can sing!
I am trying to stay up a bit longer than usual, so that I might lay in tomorrow. I am brain dead tonight. I will head to St Peter’s tomorrow but beyond that who knows? I am too tired to review where I’ve got to. I will, of course, add in some photos and do a final edit once I return home. But for now I’m signing off until the big adventure.
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