Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The end is nigh!

Canarra to Assisi – 14k

Today was another short walk and so I took advantage of getting up as late as I could without missing breakfast. At 9am I walked through into the dining room and found a feast before me, cold meats and cheese, yoghurt so, cereals, cake and lots of other scrummy things. Had I died and gone to heaven?

Renata appeared and I ordered my breakfast coffee and set too with making my fill. We both made small talk as once more I was observed eating my breakfast. Why do they have to do that, are the croissants so precious? I hastily ate my food and without wanting to seem too greedy, I ignored the gorgeous apple cake but did say I'll just take the croissant, wrapped in a napkin and left.  

I returned to the Piazza to record my journey and was soon off following a cycle track to Assisi. There was the threat of rain according to the weather forecast, it set to start at midday so I was hoping to arrive before it started. I followed a minor road to reach a crossroads and crossed over onto a no entry road except for residents and cyclists. Well that is what it said but none of the local people were taking any notice of it. It turned out to be a rat run to Assise and I was constantly moving to one side for fear of being mown down. As I neared the outskirts of the city I passed a memorial to Captain Ibbotsen, an RAF pilot who had lost his life in November 1944. There was no indication of the circumstances but I paused to pay my respects before moving on.

4K from Assise a heavy shower started and I promptly took shelter under and oak tree to put my waterproof trousers and jacket on. Once fully attired Inset off and in no time at all Inwas sweating buckets in the humid air. Thankfully the showers were intermittent and during the dry periods I managed to role my sleeves up and open my jacket to get some air. 

As I neared Assisi  the low clouds started to dissipate and the truly breathtaking place started to appear before my eyes. Initially I had planned to take a more direct route into the city but I felt it was appropriate to extend the walk and record the path along the base of the city from one side to the other. It was a wise choice because as I turned right to walk along a busy road, my path became a tranquil traffic free slope with the majestic beauty of the St Francis church and monastery dominating the hillside. Once in the city I set off to the church to see for myself. It is a sad to see so muck security around these places now but after the sad death of the priest who was stabbed in France, it is the times we now live in. 

I placed my rucksack on the table to be searched and told the armed soldiers that there was just smelly dirty clothes in there. “No knife, no knife” he uttered more than once. Non I repeated just as often. I had my fingers crosses because I was telling a little white lie, I had my penknife but I don't think that counted.

I was conscious as I entered the fresco adorned church that I was wearing shorts but I did not get shouted at and went inside. It was just a brief visit as I planned to return the next day when Claire, my walking companion for the next two weeks arrives.

After paying my respects, I set off in search of my accommodation and a decent meal and a glass of red wine before a siesta.

This journey concludes the footpath that the Cistercian monks may have taken in the 12th century. It is known that they walked from abbey to abbey every year to attend their General chapter meeting, a sort of annual general meeting, to discuss the affairs of their monasteries. The meeting would have taken place at Citaeux Abbey, Dijon France and they would have walked there. 

I have retraced that possible route from the most northerly Cistercian abbey in Melrose, Scotland and extended the path from Dijon to the place where the Cistercian General Chapter meeting now takes place annually, Assisi.

Maybe one day I will walk the whole route in one go and if I do maybe, just maybe I may be seen wearing a white habit!

And finally a special thank you to the person who helped in sponsoring this adventure, you know who you are! 

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