Stage 4 blog. Sutri to Vetralla, 18th October 2017
Distance from Rome: 85km
Sutri really is a magical place and if you ever get a chance in life to visit it, I'm sure you would not be disappointed. We woke early and after the usual brown breakfast we decided we had enough time to go and have a look round the medieval centre and then buy provisions for the days walk.
We made our way towards one of the many view points and were provided with a beautiful early morning sunrise with a wisp of early morning mists in the air - it was going to be a hot day. Moving on we came across small nuggets of Roman and Etruscan past life, most notable the main arch into the central piazza.
After buying our healthy lunch provisions we quickly made our way back to our accommodation and soon we were on our way once more. We retraced our steps back out of the town and made our way along the small road that skirts the base of the tuffa rock the town sits on.
A quick left turn saw us soon leaving the few tourists behind as we wound our way along the valley floor. The peace and quiet was deafening in the morning sunlight as we slowly made progress. When I had past this way before there were three bridges to cross as the traveller crossed from one side of the stream to other. Then they were really precarious and in serious need of repair. The first one we came to had been replaced in a simple way - four large logs just strapped together, and the remaking two no different. Well on a positive note we were never going to break the handrails because there weren't any.
After 4 km we had reached the final point of the valley and we turned right and slowly started making the ascent out of the valley. Now there is a saying that what goes up must come down and that also applies when walking unless your on a beach or in Lincolnshire, England.
As we rounded a corner and started a very steep descent, still slippery from the morning dew, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view ahead and above us of Capranica, our destination for second breakfasts. All to soon we were at the bottom of a second valley and once again we started the slow ascent up. We entered Capranica through one of the two Roman gateways and wound our path along the medieval streets, bustling with cars and people and the first of a few Pellegrini's we would meet through the day.
We did not have time to really have a look around the town and we merely made a bee line along the Main Street and out of the other side and stopped at the first cafe we came across. By now the day was pleasantly warm to sit outside and Claire went inside to order our usual coffee choices an two Cornetto a la creme's.
Before we feasted on our pastries "Wee man and his new friend Jessica rabbit had to get in the act and take a selfie photo of them posing with the pastries. Once completed they were soon devoured and we were then back on our way.
About one kilometre down the road, just before we turned left out of the town, Claire suddenly stopped and uttered "I didn't pay for the breakfast" We made our way back and Claire apologised profusely for having left without paying.....I think we had just stopped the owner calling the Carbinere to put an (APB) all points bulletin out for two suspicious Pellegrini, a small Irish man and a rabbit last seen leaving a cafe without paying. Well we thought it was very funny.
After paying we continued on our way and before long we were soon meeting up with more Pelligrini going the other way. Our route was a pleasant one, along an easy gravel track that passed between olive groves and close by the railway line. I had not walked this route before as I had decided to miss Vetralla out, instead taking in a more direct route from Viterbo to Sutri via a Cistercian Monestary.
We left the olive groves behind and with only 10km until the end we were sure to reach our Airbnb accommodation by 4pm as I had informed them. We turned left away from the via Cassia main road and were informed by the guide book that after 500 metres turn right. When we got to that point, there was a barrier across the entrance and it went straight into a hazelnut orchard. We felt that this was not correct but instead continued ahead. There were no more Via Francigena markers ahead so we stopped and reread the instructions. After much discussion we decided to retrace our steps and go back to the barrier. I mentioned to Claire that despite two VF markers either side of the barrier, it was not that way through the orchard.
We turned round and carried on down the hill towards the railway line, we crossed over despite the map in the book clearly showing this was not the way. I was aware that there Re sections of the path that have been changed or diverted so with that though I felt we were correct in our assumption of where the path was.
A car slowly rolled up to us and the driver said "Pelligrini", "Si" I replied. I pressed on with "Via Francigena"? He then proceeded to give us directions from where we were. By now the day was getting late and we had yet to have our lunch. At a small orchard we spied an agricultural building and a suitable place to sit rather than using the ground. We made our way there and while I prepared our lunch Claire went for a "wee" walk.
After a well deserved break we returned to the path and after 2km we came across what ruined out to be the correct path on the right coming out of the hazelnut orchard. I apologised to Claire profusely and I meant it too.
We pressed onto the via Cassia, crossed over and proceeded through an olive grove. It soon transpired that either we were wrong again or the path was not too well marked here. I told Claire to hang around while I retraced my footsteps back to the Via Cassia to have a good luck round. I couldn't find any more signs so assumed were correct, we pressed on a bit further only to decide that clearly somethings was not correct.
We decided to go back to the track before we had crossed the road and try from there. 1km back the way we had come Claire pointed out a VF sign we had both missed!
We pondered the map, tried to interpret reverse directions and both declared this was the correct way. By now it was well after 4pm and I set a new message to our host that our new ETA would be 6pm.......how wrong I was!
On the outskirts of Vetralla Claire declared that her pack had to come off as her back was sore. No sooner was it off then she was laid flat on her back on a picnic table with her knees up massaging her back. Thank fully there were no visitors to the park at this time of the day.
Before we set off I made Claire reduce the weight of her pack by off loading some of the content into mine. As we set off Claire was now skipping along and I was struggling to lift my legs with the increased weight of my pack.
We slowly made our way into town, 5 km further from our last stop and by now the light was beginning to get dark as the night drew in. I sent a further text to our host around 6.30pm to say that we were walking along the main road, via Roma and we'd be with her soon. 10 minutes later someone called Tony, Tony and it turned out to be our host. I don't think that either of us have ever been so pleased to see someone.
We were whisked away to out medieval apartment that everything and more for our comfort. We packs off and once instructions had been dispensed about where to leave keys, where the towels were etc I asked about the nearest Supermarket. I was informed that the supermarket was outside the town but there was another close by but was closing in five minutes.
After we'd said goodbye to our host we ran like we were being chased by the devil to get to the shop before it closed. Needless to say we managed it and we managed to buy everything we needed for a comfy night, including beer and wine!