We planned to skip breakfast this morning. The hotel largely caters to holiday makers for whom 8.00 on a Sunday is early. The manager said we could grab a coffee from the machine at 6.00 which we did. And while we were drinking this, they started loading the breakfast buffet. All this delayed our start.
Our walk was easy by comparison to recent days, just 22km along the seafront promenade and up into the hills. Every other building along the promenade was a bar so we didn’t need to re-enact scenes from those foreign legion films with cries of Frizzante while attacking any customers in our way. When we felt like a rest, we stopped.
Oh to reminisce on those fearful days in France when we had to drink water from the bowls of the vicious dogs which barked at us behind fences in otherwise lifeless villages, or die of thirst. Remember how we had to leave Ruedi in the inappropriately named village of Coole with just enough warm water to barely survive under the mid afternoon sun while waiting for some farmer to return from tending the distant fields of wheat to admit him into the B&B while we dragged our beaten and broken bodies along the Street Called Straight (a Biblical reference to the street which still exists in Damascus near where Saul was blinded and converted to St Paul) to seek refuge in a psychiatric hospital. It all seems so long ago now. When was it, Day 30?
What has become of us, walking along the seafront, sipping Frizzante and licking gelato? We no longer tell people we are walking to Rome; we now say we are walking from Canterbury, or even Weybridge if they are British.
We walked with two German pilgrims for awhile. They had walked the Camino and are now walking the Via Francigena in stages. They described this wandering as a drug. How much more tempting to take some luxury holiday but no. Out comes the old rucksack and boots and off we all go, seeking the ancient spirit that still haunts these historic pilgrimage routes.
We arrived in Camaiore to find the obvious accommodation fully booked. The hostel and hotel were full. The lady at the hotel reception said her great grandfather was celebrating his 100th birthday and the whole family had block booked the hotel for a party. However she kindly booked us into a nearby B&B, La Verdina.
This B&B is an old farmhouse from 1798 and was part of a royal estate, whatever that means in Italy. It’s a huge house which has been in the same family for generations. Everything is original including the furniture. It’s just like a museum. They welcomed us with a pot of Twining tea with lemon slices served in proper china cups. Wonderful! My first proper cup of tea since 28 May.
Back to the hills
The last Austrian empress was born here