First of all a big thank you to Margot of the AIVF for sending me a new set of credentials. I collected them as soon as we arrived in Pavia. The credential is as important to the pilgrim as a passport. It gets you access to pilgrim accommodation and occasional discounts to museums and Cathedrals. Every day we get our credentials stamped by the hotel and at any churches which may be open and which have a stamp. At the end of the pilgrimage the credential is a great souvenir. It is also proof that we have walked the pilgrimage. In Rome we will present the credential with all its stamps inside the Vatican to obtain a Testimonium.
My first credential from the AIVF was filled up some time ago and I have been stamping all over the T&Cs on the back. It’s great to have a new one which will last me to Rome. You’d imagine that it would be easy to find credentials along the way, perhaps in a Cathedral but I’ve not seen any except in Canterbury but unfortunately I don’t have the Canterbury credential anymore.
This morning we set off at 5.30 dripping in insect repellent. It was breakfast time in the rice paddies and the hungry mosquitoes were waiting for us. There is only one technique for dealing with this situation and that’s to walk fast, head down, buff over my face and to start saying the rosary.
It was Fr D who gave me that tip. He even has an app on his iPhone to save carrying the rosary itself. I remember as a child saying the rosary with my grandmother. She’d have a packet of McVities dark chocolate digestive biscuits on the table and I could take one after we finished. The rosary crops up in many different religions and I expect there is an article about it in Wikipedia which I must research.
It wasn’t long before we saw Fr D in the early morning mist slightly ahead of us. He was doing a sterling job clearing cobwebs away from the path, most of which had big juicy spiders hanging in the centre. It’s a shame to clear these cobwebs because they make a token gesture of trapping mosquitoes but it’s impossible to avoid them. Anyway we caught up with Fr D and the three of us walked together for 25km into Pavia.
I’m going to miss Fr D. He finishes his pilgrimage this week. Apart from the conversation and company he has influence in Rome. Today he mentioned the apostle St Paul and his disciple, the hot-headed Timothy which made us laugh because we hadn’t drawn the connection with ourselves.
Pavia is a stand out highlight of the Via Francigena for me. I’ve neglected Italy for too long but I’ve seen some great photos of Pavia and forced Paul into taking a rest day here, ie two nights. I hope it will be rewarding but it means an extra day of itchy red blotches.
We’re not fooled by these level crossings anymore. No train ever comes.
Early morning mist before sunrise
I can imagine giving up on this house
Lots of bunny rabbits here
Emerging from our breakfast cafe in Villanova d’Ardenghi
Part of the Ponte Coperto di Pavia