Day 73: Siena

Number of kilometres today: 16.0

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,748.4

Total steps since Canterbury:  2,429,952

Number of kilometres to Rome: 284

The sun came back today and it was nowhere near as cold as yesterday.  I left Monteriggioni later than I expected, just after 9am.  Just after a bus load of Japanese tourists arrived, the first tourists for the day.  And just after the local cafe opened which meant I was able to have a cappuccino before I left.  Not that it mattered. I had been able to make myself a complimentary espresso at my accommodation.

Today, the body really started falling apart.  My eyes bulged, face throbbed, throat was scratchy and sore as I fight off another cold.  I was light-headed and thought I was going to faint. I stopped to eat some crackers which solved the problem. My hip and glute hurt all day and the pain really started flaring up about 5 kilometres from Siena.  I wasn't sure I would make it.  I sat down, cried then stretched my glute and took a couple of voltaren before continuing on my way, shuffling down a steep hill and up an even steeper hill one kilometre long. Head down looking at my feetband not how far I had left to go. Halfway up the hill my glute started to feel better.  I thought that was strange that a tough steep walk would make it feel better then I remembered the voltaren.

Despite not feeling well and the pain, today's walking felt peaceful, meditative, beautiful.  My pace was slow because of my physical state.  I was focussed on each next step, completely in my body, in each moment, in a beautiful rhythm.

The paths were easier today.  Mainly gravel and then road so not much mud to negotiate.  And I decided to take my version of the alternative route which shortened the day by around 4.5 kilometres and enabled me to avoid the Via Cassia.  

Now I am here in Siena for the second time.  I didn't love it last time I was here. I don't remember exactly why.  I know I had a lot of pain in my feet which meant I did not want to walk around. Perhaps because it was the beginning of summer and full of tourists. There are still tourists but it is quieter.  And I feel different this time. I have a feeling for Siena, a desire just to stroll her streets and explore her in my own intuitive way. I rarely have a desire to line up and do all the touristy inside things. I want to feel a place by roaming and finding my own way around.  The one exception this time will be that I have discovered there is a Steve McCurry exhibition.  He is an amazingly gifted photographer who has had many photos published in National Geographic and there is so much wonder and so much inspiration to be felt looking at how he sees people and the world.

Another big number ticked over today.  I have only 284 kilometres left to walk to Rome.  11 days of walking.  Its this strange feeling. A mix of disbelief and pending victory.

 I'm not wishing the days away.  I am not waking up not wanting to walk or pack to walk again.  But I am looking forward to not having to walk. And I am looking forward to arriving into Rome, visitng Pappa at the Vatican, getting my pilgrim certificate and then buying myself a new outfit to wear and burning my hiking clothes. 

I can hear the trumpets herald faintly. I am starting my victory march.

Piazza Roma, Monteriggioni in the morning sunshine

 Leaving through Porta Senese

Looking back at Monteriggioni

Walking through woodlands

A friendly dog surveying his countryside

I started shopping for castles. I wasn't sure. Maybe this one...

Or this one?

Halfway up the very long steep hill into Siena. Tiredness and pain showing on my face.

That's Siena in the distance....see towers in centre

Entering Siena, Porta Camollia

Il Campo

Duomo at dusk

Il Campo at 6pm. Its dark early here.