A day of meeting other pilgrims
And 4 cyclists from the UK who had started from Martigny in Switzerland and will be cycling the 1000kms to Rome. I was to meet them several times en route to Rome, and finally in the St Peter’s Basilica, midst the thousands of visitors elbowing their way around th e monuments.
Followed Po valley most of the day to end up staying the night in this parish hostel where Thomas a Beckett stayed in 1167. The buildings and location reminded me so much of Little Gidding in Cambrigeshire, a place of spiritual seclusion founded by Nicholas Ferrar, and later receiving the accolade of T.S.Eliot in his Fourth Quartet.
Fidenza where I stayed the night, has a statue of St Peter on the façade of the cathedral, pointing the way to Rome (well, they say he’s pointing!). Funny, I set off in a completely different direction!
Seeing ourselves as others see us? Well not quite. The other day, I thought I was being followed by another cyclist, and when I looked around, it was my own shadow trying to overtake me! So I had to take a few profiles of myself as the sun moved around. You may say I look like the shadow of my former self.
Two other reflections. I’ve cycled in Italy on several occasions, but the first time I saw elegant looking black women standing by the roadside out in the country, it took me a little while to work out they were prostitutes. Today, I discovered they are not always black women.
In Piacenza, I witnessed an unwholesome scene of what appeared to be racist abuse. An Italian couple, father holding baby, were vociferously abusing a couple of black Africans. I didn’t need a translator to understand most of the expletives. And, of course, the baby was screaming at the same time.