Day 66: San Donato (Lucca)

Number of kilometres today: 32

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,619.6

Total steps since Canterbury:  2,247,442

Number of kilometres to Rome: 414

Yesterday, it rained all afternoon. Hard. Constant.  It was still raining when I fell asleep around 11pm.  But when I woke up this morning and looked out the window, I was happy and even excited to see blue sky and sunshine.  There's nothing more depressing than the thought of having to walk 32 kilometres in pouring rain.

My friend's parents drove me to Pietrasanta and walked me to the Duomo where we said goodbye and I promised I would call them if I needed help. I continued on my way, alone again, but feeling happier and more positive than I have over the last week.  I thought it was just tiredness but even two days rest in Cinque Terre didn't cure me.   It appears that what I really needed was some company.  I have spent most of my days and nights alone. I have frequent interactions with locals but they are always fleeting as we pass each other by. The last time I had company at dinner was on Day 30 in Nods when I stayed with a pilgrim friendly family. I have a strong hermit archetype in my psyche and need to spend time alone but too much of it is not a good thing.  I am human and need companionship too.

Now I am feeling re-charged and excited about the remaining days on this journey.  And I write that after having walked a long and challenging 32 kilometres.

I thought my mountain walking days were over but apparently I was wrong.  Climbing up and downhill doesn't phase me. I've walked over the Alps and steeper parts of the Apennines. It's the trails here that are challenging, broken, rocky, narrow, overgrown, steep and after a day of solid rain some of them are slippery streams.  The first challenge came only a few kilometres in to my walking day.  As I walked through a forest I had to descend down a steep narrow muddy path amongst bamboo to a narrow crevice trail.  Two metres of the trail was too steep and slippery.  I tried to steady myself down the path using the Two Rodneys but I was at risk of slipping and falling and it was dangerous.  I took the Devil off my back and tried to drag it down behind me but in the end threw the Rodneys and The Devil in front of me.  Somehow, The Devil helped to edge me down the hill.

Later there was a steep climb up a narrow path cutting between a section of winding road. The thorny creepers grabbed at my clothes and scraped my arms.  I wondered if the winding road would have been a better option.

But the award for worst path of the day and possibly of the whole trail was an 800 metre section after the cemetery in Piazzano.  The guidebook warns cyclists to stay on the road but it doesn't warn walkers how hard it exactly is.  The surface of the path eventually becomes just rock, basically like the bed of a stream.  It was uneven, lichen-covered, slippery and at times just narrow crevices in the ground.  I nick-named it the Knee Bleed Section (thinking of Hilltop Hoods Nosebleed Section) and I swore a lot.  I could hear cars passing on the road below.  Every time I turned a bend I was sure I was about to reach the road but there would be just more knee-curdling broken trail to walk down.  It took a while but I made it.  Another one of the many small victories on this pilgrimage.

As always seems to be the case on this walk, the climbs were rewarded with beautiful views of hilltop and hillside villages.  I passed through the very cute and quiet Piazzano.  In the morning I passed through Camaiore which was humming with activity in the main piazza.  It seemed all the locals were out walking around.  I enjoyed a rest break and cappuccino at a local cafe and chat with the owner and another gentleman who came in for a glass of wine.

Tonight I am staying at San Donato just a kilometre outside the walls of Luca.  I have a beautiful four post bed with creamy chiffon curtains and my own private terrace.  This is home for the next two nights so I have the opportunity to explore Lucca.

Streaming light...

This is just self-indulgent to remind me how much I loved seeing everything all bright and shiny after the rain

Walking canal-side towards Camaiore



Just outside Camaiore

Stalagtite like deposits on fallen tree

Me on the way towards Montemagno

View part way up to Montemagno

The climb to the road 

View from Montemagno

Some pretty road walking


Sweet puppy until 2 seconds after I took this photo then fierce puppy!

View to Piazzano

The path from hell

I know it's blurry but i was in a rush to get out of there and I want to show you the crevice 

Some weird little tentacle creature. It was alive.

Prayer flags on way to Alla Bidia


Ponte Saint Pietro

Amazing sky near Sant Angelo in Campo