Dy 46: Santhia

Number of kilometres today: 16.1

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,172.4

Total steps since Canterbury:  1,661,347

This morning I woke to my immediate world shrouded silver.  I meditated facing the lake I couldn't see and I started writing my morning pages facing the lake I couldn't see.  Halfway through I glanced outside to see the fog had almost lifted.  I grabbed my camera and dashed out onto the balcony barefoot wearing my black leggings and singlet, not caring about the cold.  The lake was a hazy ice blue and hovering above the middle was a single cloud of the palest rose.  I took a few shots then went back inside to finish my morning pages.  By the time I was comfy on the bed, the fog had returned stealing the lake from my view.

After I checked out from my hotel, I lingered by the lake, not wanting to tear myself away from its peace and stillness.  I lay on the stone wall of the boardwalk basking in the sun and enjoying the view; rocky snow-capped peaks framing the soft lake.  The town was even quieter than yesterday afternoon with the lakeside bars not yet open for business. Two men worked on the roof of the restaurant opposite my hotel.  A couple strolled by the lake. A man wearing an orange long-john wetsuit waded into the water to fix a mooring buoy as his three year old son and his elderly mother watched from the boardwalk.

I could have stayed here all day.  It would have been the perfect place to rest and write; water, sunshine, vista, quiet.  But I still have a long way to Rome and my rest days must be chosen carefully and not used at the expense of being able to stay at other places along the way.  Besides, shorter walk days, by which I mean twenty kilometres or less, are a kind of rest day, shorter and less strenuous.

Reluctantly I walked away from the lake and up the long hill to the main village of Viverone to buy lunch.  I stopped in the local supermarket to buy my panino with proscuitto crudo and a sweet cheese recommended by the lady that served me.  And then I stopped in the pasticceria to have a look at the dolce and walked out with a custard tart.  I ate them at my own private picnic lunch in the middle of the countryside lying on my Kermit poncho in the sunshine as I looked at the snow-capped peaks on the horizon.

Santhia is a small and sweet town in the region of Piedmont.  Tonight I am staying at the Ostello degli Amici della Via Fracigena.  It is a two room apartment with a bathroom.  One of the roomst has three bunk beds in it.  I am the only one staying here tonight.  They ask for a donation of at least 10 euro to help them cover costs and which helps to keep my accommodation costs down.  This town is very welcoming to pilgrims.  They have arranged a pilgrim menu at the local pizzeria.  For 10 euro I had a too large plate of spaghetti pesto of which I ate less than half then grilled chicken and salad with a quart of white wine and an espresso.  

This afternoon I strolled around the streets and found myself at a local park, sitting on a bench in the sunshine, eating a cup of fior di latte gelato and experiencing my own, Eat, Pray, Love scene.

A 50 year old man with dark wavy hair and greying at the temples and above his ears, walked hand in hand with his elderly mother her should shoulders hunched over, upper back rounded.  He helped her up the step and they sit side by side on the bench opposite me.  She wore a beige warm jacket and beige skirt with orange and navy floral print falling below her knees.  He wore a grey jumper over a navy blue shirt, blue jeans and tan sandals with navy socks. He leaned towards her as she spoke, strumming his right hand against his lower ribs and later tapping his feet on the ground and tapping the seat between his legs.  His phone rings. 

 "Da."

 He stops strumming.  

"Certo." 

Somewhere to my left, I heard a young boy cry out.  "Lorenzo! Lorenzo!"  

"Arrivo, Luciano!!" another boy replied.

A girl in a soft pink fleece jumper and blackcurrant leggings her dark blonde curly hair pulled back in a messy ponytail hugged her black terrier like a doll as she ate pastries from a white paper bag.  

Three girls rode past on their bicycles.

"Ciao."

"Ciao."

"Ciao."

They each cried out to the girl in the pink fleece.

"Ciao," she called back.

"Non! Non!" I heard the high-pitched yet husky voice of a woman cry out on the verge of tears.  She sat on the concrete statue of a soldier, and wore a black leather jacket with her dark brunette hair pulled back in a pony tail just below the crown of her head.  She held her mobile phone to her left ear with her left hand.  In her right hand she held a cigarette whilst moving it in small but pointed gestures as she spoke.  She exhaled a small trail of smoke from her nostrils and the rest in a cloud from her mouth.

The girl in the pink fleece jumper straddles her bright pink bicycle and starts pedalling as her mamma walks beside her pushing her along and steadying her as she holds on to the left handle bar.

A man walked hand in hand with his three year old son.

"Si," said the man.

"Non," said the boy.

"Si."

"Non."

"Si."

Non."

Another little boy ran in front of his mamma.

"Aspetta," she called out to him.  He waited for her at the water fountain where she lifted him up so he could drink.

The 50 year old man and his mother stood up.  She didn't need help to stand up. He was still on the phone but took her hand and provided support as she stepped down onto the concrete footpath.  They walked away the same way they arrived, side by side, her right hand in his left.

So much richness in just being present in the one, tiny place.