Day 77: Radicofani

Number of kilometres today: 32.9

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,836.9

Total steps since Canterbury:  2,555,356

Number of kilometres to Rome: 193

The priest in San Quirico d`Orcia briefed us on today's journey before we left.  He showed us where to walk on the road rather than follow the official Via Francigena trail so we could pass a bar where we could eat lunch.  Otherwise there would be nowhere to buy food or drink until a bar at a service station 20 kilometres into the journey.  He warned us about two Maremma dogs guarding sheep without any human supervision and that if the sheep were there not to go near them.  He warned us of the dangerous parts of the Via Cassia road and showed us where there was a new bridge that was a safer place to cross. And how we could find our way around two streams if we couldn't cross them.  He told us snow was forecast at 400 metres.  Radicofani sits at an altitude of 800 metres. And that the last 9 kilometres to Radicofani were all up hill but this is the last hard section on the way to Rome.

In the end it was a beautiful but long day's walk.  Beautiful light.  Giant clouds hanging over the hills. More postcard perfect sweeping vistas. My spirits were high. I dance walked for almost an hour as we walked along a relatively quiet section of the Via Cassia.

The bar the priest told us about had closed down but we found a small shop selling bread and salami and cheese 300 metres away in the town and were able to make our own panini which we ate siting in the intermittent sunshine.  We walked the road and didn't cross the streams. This made me happy. I didn't really want to ford anymore streams. We didn't see the sheep or the supposedly vicious sheep dogs probably because we followed the road and not the paths across the streams.  The 9 kilometre climb was steady and tiring .  My hip ached the whole way up but we could see the castle of Radicofani perched on top of its camel-humped hill getting bigger and nearer as we approached.  It didn't snow but it was very cold.  Fortunately, the signora who looked after the pilgrim ostello where we stayed turned the heating up for us.

There was already one other pilgrim at the ostello who we met a little later.  A 60 year old French man who has been walking the camino to Santiago de Compostela continuously for 8 years and was walking north, the opposite direction to us, back towards Santiago de Compostela once again.  He spoke Spanish and Franco, our Italian fellow pilgrim could speak some Spanish also so he was able to find out a little bit about him.  Jimberto had shoulder length dark blonde hair but a grey beard.  His face was deeply wrinkled and weathered and I don't think he had any teeth.  I suspect he has lead a hard life. But he had a heart of gold.  He tried to chat to us although I couldn't understand what he was saying and as I sat there shivering cold with wet hair he went and got the hairdryer from the second bathroom for me. I didn't know there was one in the house. I dried my hair. My shivering stopped.

We attempted to go for dinner to the only restaurant open in the small town a little before 8pm but found the restaurant fully booked and had to wait half an hour.  The lady generously sent us back to the Ostello with a bottle of wine for aperitif while we waited.  We didn't really need more wine just food and sleep we were all so tired.  We went back to the restaurant at 8.45pm but it was still very busy and although we were seated we weren't able to order until after 9.30pm. As we waited and chatted we spoke a little about Jimberto. I made the observation that he seemed like he was living more of a vagabond existence than as a pilgrim because he just keeps moving from place to place along the trail and as he doesn't have a home to go back to, nor I believe the intention to ever go back home but just to keep walking. My understanding of pilgrimage is that the pilgrim eventually returns home and takes their experiences with them.  This comment really upset Franco who thought I was being very judgemental and there ended an otherwise pleasant and enjoyable evening. I felt attacked and was very upset.  Franco was not interested in talking to me, nor I to him and we were sitting opposite each other. Our table became subdued and there was no more laughter.

We ate our Tuscany soup silent of chatter. it was delicious byt my appetite killed. Peter ordered secondo.  There was a misundersanding about Paulius meal and he finally received his vegetables to eat unaccompanied which upse his Lithuanian sensibilities that he must eat meat with vegetables. Franco had more soup. I watched them eat.  Peter was keen for dessert and I had recovered a little by then. Paulius, Peter and I enjoyed a milifoglie and the waitress came and gave us a slice of equally delicious tiramisu. My mood brightened a little.

I am upset about the nights events.  I have enjoyed walking with the three guys for the past two days but I am unsure that I want to continue walking with them. I would rather walk by myself and eat alone than experience tonights events again. But I am tired and still feeling emotional. For now, I need to sleep and see what tomorrow brings.

San Quirico d'Orcia in the morning

Castiglione d'Orcia on the hill

Beautiful morning light 

Bagno Vignoni

Leaving Bagno Vignoni over the safe bridge

Radicofani in the distance

Sunset on the way to Radicofani

Final hill assault on the way to Radicofani

Radicofani, view to the castello