Paul and I had an action packed 32km walk today. Everything one could wish for on the Via Francigena. There were cats, bars, crumbling Roman ruins including an amphitheater, pilgrims galore, wild horses and, of course, more hazelnuts.
It was dark when we departed sleeping Capranica, passing along its dark narrow streets, through the walls and away into the surrounding forest. I felt just like a medieval pilgrim except for the knowledge that my return journey will be on BA rather than on foot.
The dark forest trail would have been better tackled in the sunshine than in the dawn. Apart from being overgrown in places there were fallen trees to contend with and raging torrents to negotiate on wooden planks. As we progressed we suddenly saw three horses coming towards us along a narrow path. They looked well groomed and used to people so we stood to one side as they passed. They seemed to know the way where ever they were going.
After the forest we came to the Roman ruins and the amphitheatre and we walked in. I’ve seen better. An Italian man arrived and appeared to start a soliloquy from Julius Caesar. We applauded and prepared to join in when it became clear that he was venting his anger on us. The site hadn’t yet opened and anyway there was a hefty admission charge. He shooed us away.
We headed for the nearest cafe and devoured a couple of empty croissants and cappuccinos. On the way out we met a cluster of pilgrims. First the Dutch lady and her daughter whom we met previously in Brescecon, France. Then two Dutch girls who started in Canterbury. And then, believe it or not, an English man (D) who also started in Canterbury. D is from Dulverton on Exmoor. We’ve now met four pilgrims who started from Canterbury.
We all met at the next bar, our Frizzante stop. It was just like the Camino Frances except for the prices.
We continued in pleasant sunshine, my solar umbrella raised against the rays. The hazelnut orchards continued for mile after mile. Millions of nuts were being blown into the gap between the trees where they are vacuumed up. Cadbury will take them and cover them with chocolate.
Now we are in the hotel Benigni in Campagnano di Roma, enjoying a pilgrim discount which is advertised in my guidebook but was not offered until we demanded it. The lady in the only cafe which was still open at 2.15pm made us a superb spaghetti carbonara and a massive mixed salad. There is a huge party in town tonight to celebrate the feast of John the Baptist, who is the patron saint around here. We managed to get a room at the back of the hotel.
Fallen tree blocks the Via Francigena
Loose horses out for an early morning stroll
Cyclamen on the path
Two Dutch pilgrims we previously met in Brescencon
Cafe full of pilgrims
A great salad for lunch today