I suspect Italian mosquitoes don’t work on Mondays because this morning they were waiting for us fully revived and ready for action. Also, they don’t seem to mind the heat; far from it: the hotter it gets the more they come out to play. And they are early risers. No sleeping in for those insects.
Paul and I only had a 21km walk today. But it felt more like advancing 21km under heavy fire to our destination – Garlasco.
The Via Francigena people haven’t bothered to sign the route. There was just a way in sign at the start of the paddies. We missed our turning a couple of times and had to back track which is always frustrating but especially so in a rice paddy.
And then we saw a real pilgrim coming towards us. What a marvel! He was a young Italian on the Via Francigena but going to Compostela. He lives in Milan and is just starting an incredible journey of 3 months from his home and this is only day 2. He is heading around the coast to Montpellier and then will follow the Arles Camino over the Pyrenees and down to the Camino Frances just past Pamplona. An InterMilan supporter by the way.
We reached the only village, a place called Tromello, after 16km and settled into a cafe for breakfast, the same as yesterday. In these parts it is customary to sit inside for obvious reasons: the tables and umbrellas outside are only there to advertise the bar.
After half an hour the door blew open and a cloud of mosquitoes entered followed by Fr D. Like us he was dripping in sweat, his clothes clinging to his body. Perhaps he was a missionary in deepest Africa at one time.
The three of us resumed the fight after that welcome stop. Fr D had a reservation outside Garlasco so we bid him farewell and continued into town.
Once in Garlasco we walked down the Main Street looking for a hotel. It’s a dusty old town but with some nice touches. One moment I felt like Clint Eastwood in For a Few Dollars More and the next moment I was one of the kids in Summer of ’42.
The first hotel we passed was the Pino but it looked derelict. The second hotel was the Boston with 4 stars but it was chained up and padlocked, presumably by the bank. And that was it. In desperation we went into a bar for a large beer and an even larger bottle of fizzy water. The barman recommended the Pino so we returned for a closer look. The place looked awful but a sign at the side pointed to reception at the back. A couple of cats scurried away before I could get the camera out and the remains of a rat lay by the back door.
However just then the cheerful owner appeared and explained that the hotel was a different building, all very nice and modern. So here we are. The temperature is 37 degrees and tomorrow morning we depart at 5.30 for Pavia.
Pilgrim from Milan going to Compostela
Tonight’s hotel Pino and one of its cats.
My washing hanging out to dry