Sunday, 12 November 2017

Stage 9. The only way is up

Aquapendente to Radicofini, 25th October 2017

Distance from Rome: 200km

After a day's rest we are now three Pilgrims walking together. The previous night my good Italian Pilgrim friend Carlo Carli joined us and will be walking the next three stages with us to Siena, our next planned rest point.

The day was going to be a tough one so we all set off bright and early after picking up food for the mid-day meal. Radicofini sits on the top of a hill and there were two ways to get there. The first route is along quiet country lanes and through fields but the total mileage would be 32 km. The second route meant walking the first 10 km along the busy Via Cassia road and reducing the total mileage by 7 km. We chose the shorter route!

After only 2km we passed the first Pelligrini, three Italians going the other way, heads down and just getting on with the journey. We all called Buon Camoni across the traffic as it whizzed past.

At the 4th kilometre Claire was undertaking the now familiar routine of taking her clothes off......I won't say much more because that way it's more fun just leaving the reader in suspense.

We all pressed on walking in single file, heads down and also just getting on with it. There was the odd accession when there was a brief respite as we followed parts of the old road away from the new section. It was no more fun but at least there was no chance of us being run over. Conversation was limited to the odd occasion when it was safe to talk and by lunchtime we had reached the half way point, where we turned off the road and onto a gravel track that would take us nearly all the way to Radicofini.

We stopped at the cafe and all refuelled. By now it was after Pelligrini time where we met others coming the opposite way. As we stepped onto the pavement a very smartly dressed gentleman stepped towards the cafe and I immediately detected and English twang. I bid the smartly dressed gentleman good day and he reciprocated. It transpired he had set off from London. 

Now as the three of us continued on our way, we all agreed that our English Pilgrim did not really look like a walker and certainly not one that had walked from London. I agree there is no such thing as the stereotypical long distance walker, but this gentleman looked as though he had just stepped out of his house complete with smart soft loafer shoes to walk in. 

The second half of the day involved a long slow uphill walk on a chalky stone pathetic was very slippery and steep in sections. The only real benefit of the section being the stupendous views we were rewarded with all around as we just climbed and climbed and climbed. Every now and then we did get a glimmer of Radocofoni on the horizon, way up in the sky and far away.

The afternoon air was humid but there was the occasional relief of a gentle breeze as we climbed and climbed and climbed. Claire mentioned that the final part of the walk was almost equivalent to the height of climbing a small Munro (Scottish mountain) due to the height in meters we were ascending.

Eventually by late afternoon we were making the final journey through the old gateway into the medieval street to reach the end of the stage. We were early to check in, so after taking photos of where we had just walked from we sat down for a glass of wine in the sun. Whilst sitting there a Hearst rolled up and parked outside the church where we were. The driver got out and he approached Carli and started chatting away.

It transpired that the driver was also one of the caretakers of our pilgrim accommodation, he mentioned that he was busy with the funeral and apologised that he'd left the keys to our lodgings at home. He would go back and return within the hour. Mmmmmmm after nearly two hours, we were starting to get cold and fed up of waiting but he finally arrived.  

We were grateful to be inside in the warmth and with all the formalities completed we settled into our own room, spreading ourselves across the various beds to make it look like it was a bit full. It's not the normal procedure for Pilgrim accommodation but as there were plenty of other rooms we did not feel guilty at our transgression.

I have had the pleasure of staying at this accommodation before, it is warm, very comfortable and has the added bonus of a decent kitchen for self caterers - we were not one of those.

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