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Day 18 afternoon: Siena to Radicofani 48m(75km)

Total so far: 1173miles (1888kms)

This was the very first sign I saw pointing the way to Rome. Could I already hear the notoriously heavy traffic of the capital?

Afternoon route. This was to take me across the southern reaches of Tuscany, and the landscape was changing noticeably: lush vineyards were changing to the dark browns of the recently ploughed trees, and there was the constant drone of agricultural machinery. But it was a great surprise, and pleasure, to meet up with Filipe again, and he invited me to join him on the street terrace of a cafe. He is quietly convincing me of the virtues of a GPS on such journeys. His seems to keep him securely on the right track (most of the time!)

Radicofani. Although Filipe and I (both being independent spirits) didn’t stick together on the road, we made arrangements to meet at the end of the day. Getting to Radicofani required serious commitment. At the end of the day, as the sun was setting, I was faced with an 8km climb that would take me to just under 1000m above sea level. But the ospedale that awaited me, specially converted for pilgrims like myself, was superb. A lady who lived in this mountain top village showed me where everything was, including the food and drink, and simply suggested I might leave a small donation when I left. The interior of this cottage was modern and very clean, in fact, a bit too good for dirty walkers and cyclists like myself.

Supper. Filipe arrived as it was getting dark and, along with a Corsican walker, we prepared the biggest pan of pasta you could imagine, and a large bottle of vino rosso to go with it. Bliss! The ospedale obviously welcomed a lot of pilgrims who were journeying from Rome to Santiago (or vice versa) as evidenced by the many wall-hangings bearing the characteristic scallop-shell.