I’m fast approaching the end of my Via Francigena guidebook. Flicking through the pages I see that Rome is just 3 days away. That means Paul and I will arrive in St Peter’s Square on Friday morning. Just 76km (47 miles) to go.
Today’s walk was 32km. About 30km of it seemed to be through hazelnut orchards. I’ve never seen so many hazelnuts. It was fun walking along the path crunching on them. I don’t think anyone picks them: they drive between the trees with giant vacuum machines sucking them up from the ground. It must be a problem having hungry pilgrims walking through the orchards but there were lots of horrid notices warning us that they had just been sprayed and that we should not touch any nuts. I tend to believe any official notice but in this instance I was cautious because all morning I did not see a single squirrel. Isn’t that spooky?
Half way through the walk we passed through Vetralla, another small town lying in the shadows of Rome. I think the barman must be reading my blog because he was not only ready with the Frizzante but he had our favourite brand, not the naturally sparkling water which is almost flat. He had my favourite croissants too which are plain. In Italy everything is sweet: sugar, sugar, sugar. The croissants are laced with mamalado or a thick chocolate flavoured sugary syrup. It’s a relief to find what is known locally as an empty croissant, as if it had been neglected. But even then it has been sprayed with a sugary mist.
“Breakfast in Italy”. You can google that all day long without getting a single search result. It doesn’t exist. Everyone is recovering from their midnight pizza. But if you do eat something before midday it will be a piece of sweet cake or a doughnut. Breakfast is espresso and that’s it. Oh what I’d give to be back in France in the morning to tackle a length of fresh crusty baguette with unsalted French butter and French apricot jam. What culinary joys we have experienced on this pilgrimage. Even the breakfast in that awful Paon hotel with its American Airlines economy chicken dinner and the shower head which falls on your head when you turn the water off, served us a fine breakfast.
The weather today was pleasant but not hot. The gnats were shivering in the woods. It’s not what I was expecting at all.
The ancient Romans kindly cut this gorge for us to walk through
This is as close as I dared go. He had a fierce growl
Today’s Frizzante stop
Every town has its fountain
The endless hazelnut orchards