I was lucky to find a stone slab outside the hostel by the church from where a faint G3 signal was available. I sat there to write my blog and then went in for the feet washing and dinner. For the first time in the Via Francigena we stayed in a hostel that was full with 10 other pilgrims. It was the sort of experience you might expect every night on the Camino Frances.
The feet washing was actually just one foot and the water was surprisingly cold but it was soon over and we all sat down to dinner. Many of these pilgrims are just out for a few days but I sat close to a young man called R who has walked from Amsterdam Via Germany, Switzerland and Austria. There are so few long distance pilgrims that we tend to know them all. Everyone always asks if we’ve met anyone else doing it. R met H from that day in Silvia’s cafe and H told him all about Paul and I and especially my solar umbrella which had impressed him.
Next to R was a girl called Ra who is an art student from France. She previously walked the Camino Frances and set off to Rome from her parents house in Paris. She only told her mother the night before her departure and never told her father. She mostly slept in her hammock or on the ground if there were no convenient trees. It was a luxury hammock with a built in mosquito net but she told me how the Po Valley mosquitoes would get in before she could zip up. “That would be hell”, she said. She was fortunate that her boyfriend, father and brothers joined her for various stretches. We must have been only a few days apart. She asked me if we had taken A Street Called Straight and we reminisced how those days were the hardest and hottest of the whole pilgrimage.
It was truly wonderful to stay in that hostel and to meet so many pilgrims.
This morning we were served breakfast at 5.30 and everyone set off heading southeast.
We were soon back in the wilds and saw the first sheep for a long time. It is always a pleasure to come across sheep in England, perhaps grazing on the South Downs. I am much more cautious in Europe where they are often guarded by sheep dogs. If you approach the sheep, the dog may think you are a threat to them. Best to give them all as much space as possible.
Not long after seeing the sheep we saw the dog on our path just ahead. Something was wrong. It had abandoned the sheep and as we approached it, the dog nervously edged out of our way then sat down for a moment before dragging itself onto the grass. The poor thing was missing an eye. Paul said it must have taken a stone. There was nothing we could do.
After a couple of difficult days, I found myself flying today. We walked from Radicofani to San Lorenzo Nuovo, 34km. We are staying in a boring B&B by ourselves but I hope to find more pilgrim hostels soon.
The feet washing ceremony
Our communal dinner last night
A foggy start this morning outside the church by the hostel
“Have you seen our dog?”
On the way to San Lorenzo Nuovo