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Day 19: Radicofani to Sutri: 73m(117kms)

Total to date: 1246m(2005kms)

Early morning mist. Or was it cloud? As we prepared to set off together, we climbed up to the highest point of the village, to the castle (which was closed!) but we were rewarded with amazing views over the countryside. The level of cloud was beneath us, giving a curious perspective to everything we looked down on.

 

Natural phenomena. Sometimes, something catches my eye and I brake hard, pull over and get out the camera. This can be a little risky on a busy road. Here you see a field full  of spider’s webs glistening in the morning sunlight, and a roadside post covered with snails. Fascinating.

Bolsena Cathedral. Bolsena is situated next to a huge lake of the same name. A great inland site for many water-sports, including swimming. But the Cathedral (Il Duomo) caught my attention in particular. You could see three layers of history in its construction: the catacombs of the 4th century, the medieval parts and then those added in the 17th century. But it all blended together extremely well.

 

The great descent. From a 1000m above sea level, we had a great descent first thing in the morning, but we had to descend through the cloud, and visibility was down to a few metres, especially if you were wearing glasses! I enjoyed the coolness before the heat of the day set in. Filipe, on the other hand, (like a butterfly) needs sun and heat to get himself going, so didn’t enjoy the descent so much.

Sutri. As I entered the town walls, I encountered the place I was looking for: a Carmelite Convent that provided beds for pilgrims. What I hadn’t bargained on was the fact it was an enclosed order, and all communication took place through a grille, and passports and money were handed over through a covered turntable. Our rooms were located in a separate building, and gave us easy access to the town which, like Lucca, was celebrating its patronale. (And we thought the music was to celebrate our arrival!)

 

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.