We waved goodbye to the mosquitoes and they waved back as we climbed out of Fidenza into the hills of central Italy. These hills will become the Apennine Mountains.
It was a late start today because there was a promise of an early breakfast in the hotel. It never really materialised but I did have a chat with P&L (the father and daughter from the ferry) who happened to be staying in the hotel. They gave me some disappointing news concerning our destination, Formovo. The town is holding its annual festival and all the accommodation is booked, even the four beds for pilgrims in the church.
On our way, we met H, a Dutch pilgrim who is walking to Rome from Copenhagen. He holds a reservation on one of the four pilgrim beds in the Formovo church and he walked with us today.
How satisfying to be up in the hills again, clear of insects and with nice views into the distance. A few vineyards, some corn and alfalfa plus a few sunflowers were being cultivated.
In Costamezzana, we stopped at a restaurant but it was closed. However the owner saw the look of disappointment on our faces and invited us into her garden. She brought us a delicious fruit tart from which we carved generous slices. A short walk later and we reached Medesano where we ate a satisfying lunch at Silvia’s cafe. It would be our last food of the day.
H is a generation or two younger than us and failed to comprehend the anguish of Sylvia’s mother which topped the charts back in the early 1970s. Why did Sylvia’s mother answer Sylvia’s telephone? What was an Operator and why on earth was she demanding a 40 cent top up for an extra three minutes half way through the call? Neither Paul nor I could remember the rest of the lyrics; H remains bemused by it all.
As we entered Formovo the whole place had been closed and converted for the carnival. Outside the church they built a stable and I wondered whether we’d be sleeping there. H claimed his bed, we were directed to a religious facility called Villa Santa Maria, two kilometres away which could accommodate us. After walking 36 km in temperatures which reached 35 degrees with high humidity that was bad news. We were soaking. And exhausted, but at least we had a place to stay.
The villa is empty except for some Italian cyclists. One of them let us in on his way out so we’ve just taken a room. We have a demanding day tomorrow. There are no vacancies anywhere before the top of the Cisa Pass. So we made a reservation in the hostel and must walk two tough uphill stages, about 42km. Another 4.30 alarm call.
Enough pilgrims for a group shot (Paul, L&P, H and me
Historic old church on the way to Formovo.
The stable. We avoid it but the town was full