Day 96 – we arrive in Rome

Three months and three days after leaving my home in Weybridge, Paul and I arrived in Rome. Does the Vatican count as a country? If so, it’s our 5th country on this pilgrimage. That’s me on the left, if you don’t know.

We were up earlier than usual because of the excitement and set off at the first hint of dawn to join the traffic thundering into the eternal city. It was a strange 17km walk. First we were edging our way alongside the busy highway and then we disappeared into wasteland which is optimistically called a park. A whole catalogue of every insect that has plagued us across France, Switzerland and Italy was waiting for one last hurrah. My least favourite is a biting fly which sits on my sleeves and jabs it’s pointy end into my arm. It’s more irritating than painful but the red spots remain for days. It was even worse in short sleeves. We hurried along and soon caught up with the Dutch mother and daughter whom we me in Besancon. We walked together for awhile and then pressed on.

More roads and “parks” followed until we reached the top of a hill and had our first view of St Peters. Some pilgrims had left articles of clothing on the fence but I had nothing sensible to offer so we hurried on.

Eventually we were caught up in the city and we stopped for a final Frizzante before crossing the border into The Vatican, shortly before 11.00.

It’s a strange feeling finishing a pilgrimage. In the days when I run marathons there was always quite a lot of activity at the finish. Photographers clicking away, water stations, timing officials and stewards, medals etc. Even masseurs. You’d imagine the Church would get involved. In Compostela there is the daily pilgrim mass at 12.00 and the excitement of receiving the Compostela. I suppose all the clergy in Rome are too busy to participate. However the good old Confraternity of St James still has a little room nearby and they handed us a certificate.

We walked a couple more kilometres to the main pilgrim hostel, the Spedale della Providenza which is also a convent. I can stay for two nights but then I need to relocate because I don’t fly home until Thursday. There is a fine collection of pilgrims. A German girl who sped along from Lausanne. She started 1 August walking up to 14 hours a day covering 60km just to see if she could. She slept wild or in hostels. Also a lady from Ukraine who cycled here from Venice via most of Italy and several familiar faces from the hostel a few days ago. We have had the foot washing welcome and a good communal dinner during which everyone had to talk for a minute or two about their motivation for walking a pilgrimage. It is just wonderful to hear pilgrims try to explain why and how they walk such distances.

I’ll write another blog before I leave Rome on Thursday to wrap things up for this trip.

On our way through the streets of Rome

The Dutch mother and daughter this morning

It’s a tough life, this foot washing

25 comments on “Day 96 – we arrive in Rome

  1. Congratulations, Tim and Paul!! We have read your posts faithfully each day and have been very inspired! We look forward to beginning our own Via Francigena pilgrimage (just the Italian sections) this coming Spring.
    Well done!
    Donna & Richard

    • Thanks for the feedback which I really appreciate. I look forward to following your blog on the Via Francigena. Good luck!

  2. Well done!

    • Thanks. Now I know the way to Rome. Might come in handy one day

  3. David Ghiorso

    thanks for all the updates and congrats on making it to Rome. Definitely not like Santiago.

    • Hi David, great to hear from you. We are happy to stop for now. Tim

  4. Roger Clarkson

    Congratulations. You are looking well.

  5. Reva Wright

    Well done boys!!! Tim, your posts have been so much fun to read! You guys deserve a great hotel!

    • Hi Reva, great to hear from you. Paul is settling down to sleep in his bunk. I think he’s starting to enjoy the dormitory life. Tim

  6. Congratulations, Paul and Tim !!! What a challenge! Paul, Du bist der Sohn von Trudy, der seine Ziele auch mit so viel Ausdauer erreicht wie die tolle Mama. Enjoy your great success!
    From Switzerland to Rome
    Lisa and Mario Piazza

  7. Will you be ending in luxury at a Parador like you did at the end of the Frances? (Is there even a Parador in Italy??) Incredible accomplishment, guys. Some of my Camino comrades are planning to do the Portuguese in the spring. That’s more my speed. Only 2 weeks. 🙂 Although I will definitely do the Frances again one day. Now, go have a huge gelato! You deserve it!

  8. Oh, and see if you can find a little trattoria in the center where you can get cacio y pepe! Simple, but divine! (Wish I could remember the name of the place where we had it. Very off the beaten path. No tourists.)

  9. Philippa Thomas

    Congratulations Tim & Paul on reaching Rome after your amazing pilgrimage; like others we’ll miss your posts and photos. Look forward to reading your final reflections, Philippa & Peter

  10. Congratulations you two! Wow when you look at that map and the distance you travelled, it is truly amazing. I have enjoyed reading your journals and trust you feel a great accomplishment. Bravo!

  11. Annette

    Congratulations, I totally enjoyed all the posts. Enjoys a few days rest!

  12. Heike Warmers

    Herzlichen Glückwunsch Tom und Paul!
    Wir haben euch auf dem St. Bernhard Pass kennengelernt (Heike und Marco) und werden unsere Via Francigena im nächsten Jahr fortsetzen. Es war so schön täglich eure Erlebnisse zu lesen. Vielen Dank!!!

  13. Warmest congratulations to you both for completing your pilgrimage! Another fabulous record has been documented for future travellers to read and enjoy (for as long as you maintain your subscription to wordpress.com and so I hope you have set up a suitable trust fund). We look forward to welcoming you home soon. Coffee Friday?

    • Thanks Mike. I will only keep the blog alive as long as I keep walking. But that might be forever! More immediately, yes to a cappuccino on Friday. Look forward to catching up. Tim

  14. Lucy Davies

    Amazing journey, well done. Time for a rest, surely! Look forward to see you upon your return x

  15. deirdre birks

    Many congratulation on completing this amazing trip.

  16. Carlos

    Congratulations to both for completing such an amazing journey! I am going to miss reading about your adventures, your words have become part of my daily ritual for the last three months, will there be a book? Looking forward to catching up in person.

  17. Adelaide Trezzini

    Paul and Tim, you have been great, first of all to walk with great spirit for so many days, very few pilgrims have done it since 2001 (Hughette de St-Pierre and Serge Hamelin-CA received the first Testimonium in the Vatican 2.7.2001), and to write in such a pleasant way your Via Francigena experience!
    Which cat will win the first price among all the hundred pictures taken? A great passion!

    A pity that I’m not in Rome at the moment but in Lugano-Switzerland, it would have been a pleasure to meet and chat with you around a coffee or restaurant table; it is my personal way to say thank you to all true pilgrims pionniers since 2001.
    I learned everything about the needs of pilgrims in order to make their pilgrimage easier and a rich experience for their lives.
    Deus nobiscum in via,
    Adelaide Trezzini


    Congratulations to both of you for your adventurous trek. It was a pleasure to live vicariously through your blogs.
    A job well done!!!
    Betty Mc

  19. Rachel Birks

    Many congratulations Tim! WHAT an achievement. I have really enjoyed following your blog—and so has Deirdre! I think we are all going to miss the daily updates and stunning photos! Where to now?! Trust you will be flying back and not walking!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.