Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Stage 10. A long dusty track

Radocofina to San Quirico, 26th October 2017

Distance from Rome: 232km

Whilst in Radocofini last night we had all visited the local grocery store and been introduced to two local Tuscan dishes, both involved bread. The first Panzanella, a dish of onions, tomatoes, bread, oil all chopped up and serve cold.

The second was Ribollita, a warm soup that basically contains any vegetables that are left over. These are placed in a pan and with the lid on made to sweat until they start to give of a juice. To the juice is added oil and finally bread. The secret is to let it go cold and then reheat the next day and the more time it is reheated the better and more mature the vegetable stock becomes. 

We had been told which restaurant to go to the night before and booked a table because they were so popular. Once seated we all ordered Ribollita and soon it was brought to the table. A steaming large bowl of hot vegetables, beans (flageolet) and bread with a ladle in for us to help ourselves. We all had three helpings it was that good.

Back at the Ostello we had spread our things around a six bedded room so that we could keep it to ourselves, and after a really good night sleep we all woke early to get a good start on the 32km walk ahead.

As Radicofani is on a hill, naturally the first six kilometres was all downhill. The road being a mixture of walking on the grass verge by the road or on gravels tracks when there was the opportunity to leave the road behind. Part way down we came across a sheep that had escaped out the field. Carlo managed to open the fence enough for the sheep to get back in and I proceeded to try to round the sheep up. It had other ideas. Every time it tried to get back in the field the silly think just ran straight into the fence rather than through the gap that had been made. Eventually the sheep got fed up this game and ran like mad away from us, we gave up to but left the fence open. Hopefully it did not get run over.

When we turned onto the main road and stopped going downhill the path again move away from the road and followed the river bed. It as easy going and it was nice to be safe from being run over by crazy Italian drivers.

From following the river bed we turned left past the ancient village of Formone and once the home of a post station dating back to the thirteenth century and a chapel. Now it has been made into a modern home. 

There is a saying....what goes down must go up, and true to that from we started to ascend round the hillside and into the next valley. We were blessed with warm weather and very little clouds in the sky so we had spectacular views all around us of the Tuscan hillside as well as back to Radicofini every now and then.

Italy is peppered with medieval buildings and ancient pathways, sadly all to many of them in a bad state of neglect or disrepair. We passed through a small farm and chapel that was once the site of the Hospice of Bricole and a major resting place on the Via Francigena. Among its guest, Phiippe Auguste, the King of France and Charles d'Anjou's troops in 1288.

In the 10th century it was mentioned as Abricula by Archbishop Sigeric. The farmhouse is a derelict mess and the beautiful tiny chapel that still has traces of the original paintwork has sadly been used to house farm animals and is now just full of poo! Why o why......this could be such a wonderful treasure for Pilgrims to rest or pass through again for them to receive their vitals!

By now it was getting towards midday and it was hot and humid and with the mention of lunch I explained that I was familiar with somewhere not too far away. We pressed on and soon cam to the spot, except it was not the one I had in mind. We stopped and despite the area having a fair scattering of dog poo, we were too hungry and foot wary to care. We just made sure that the pesky flies stayed away from any food. needless to say it was not too pleasant and we certainly did not take our time to each lunch. 

Before finishing two pilgrims came towards us also looking for somewhere to sit and eat, there was no space near us and feeling guilty mentioned that we had passed by somewhere close to where we were currently. I pointed the spot out, a shady place for two complete with a table and a view across the valley. It turned out that they were two American Pilgrims, but only walking a short section and only carrying day bags. Their main luggage being transported for them.

After a quick lunch we left the dog poo and the dog to add to the collection.

We pressed on continuing to wind our way through the hillside along the tracks, every now and then stepping to one side as a car appeared, past us and covered us in a shower of dust...... A bit like being crop sprayed every now and then. 

By late afternoon we descended the hills side and briefly up the up the other side of the valley to Vignoni Bagno, home to a thermal natural spa, a big posh hotel and a large square thermal pool around a courtyard. Claire was eager to paddle in it but it was not one of those places so instead we decided to go for a beer and put our feet up and rest for a while.

With the heat of the day and being tired the beer soon left its mark on me and once my shoes were back on I rather squiffly got to my feet and set off on the final ascent of the day. 250 metres straight up to the village of Vignoni, a small ancient stronghold with a Romanesque parish church and a tower from the eleven century castle.

By 4.30 we were entering San Quirico it origins being Etruscan and the earliest mention of it being in 712AD. Our home for the night would be in one of the medieval buildings above the tourist information office in the old part of the village.


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