Day 49: Garlasco

Number of kilometres today: 23.6

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,258.4

Total steps since Canterbury:  1,783,209

Another day spent meandering my way through the rice fields but there was no sunshine today, just a silver haze that hugged the earth.  Most of the fields had already been harvested and some have been ploughed.  The canals that line the fields were empty of water but left with mud and sludge and at times rubbish  I have smelled a lot of bad odours walking through the countryside but at one point it was so bad I started retching.  

The fields were not a peaceful place to be.  Gun shots fired frequently near and far as hunters scavenged the tufts of woodland for pheasants.  I still find it unsettling coming across men with guns in the middle of nowhere.  One group of four idled along in front of me with their hunting dogs, one man carrying their catch of three pheasants.  We exchanged "Buon Giornos" and one of them was keen to give me directions that I didn't fully understand except he was trying to direct me around the military zone where I couldn't walk through.  Earlier, another hunter directed me to some kind of house or farm where I could get something to eat or drink.

Because of the hunting and the smelly canals, I was keen to leave the rice fields behind me and get to the town of Tromello.  However, this meant that I walked around 19 kilometres without a break. I know better than this after seven weeks of walking.  My feet were throbbing and sore as I hobbled into Tromello where I stopped to eat my lunch.  Starting to walk the final four kilometres after lunch was even more painful as my feet, knees and hips had stiffened and rejected the idea of walking further.  They relaxed after fifteen minutes and the walking became easier. I made it to my hotel by 2pm which means I have had a long afternoon of resting and a little time wandering the town of Garlasco.

I am loving the food in Italy, a lot.  From my current breakfast fave of a cappuccino and cornetto marmellata to lunch of panino with proscuitto crudo and cheese (I am trying them all) or with mortadella to dinners varying from three course extravaganzas like last nights risotto parmigiano, petto di pollo and insalato followed by home made gelato, to simple but delicious pizza; tonight's was with speck, provolone cheese and anchovies.  

But I am struggling with the timing of dinner.  After early mornings and days spent walking, I am ready to eat dinner by 7pm and then fall into bed but in Italy dinner is rarely eaten before 8pm. I have presented myself at a few pizzerias just after 7pm and although I have been one of the first customers I am seated and served although last night I was told not until 8.30pm then seated and served at anyway. It was 7.30pm.  Tonight, I was struggling to make it to 7pm.  I walked laps around the block trying to stretch time. I tried walking meditation, stepping slowly and mindfully but my mind was already at dinner then bed. In the end I stretched it to 7.10pm by walking to a takeaway pizza place that had a couple of bench tables inside where I could eat.

Tomorrow I am walking to Pavia and planning to be walking by 7.30am with the aim of arriving by 1.30pm. I want to visit the monastery at Certosa, 8 kilometres north of Pavia which is one of the largest monasteries in Italy.  It is closed on Mondays so if I don't make it tomorrow then I won't be able to visit. So I am off to bed.