Current Day. Trip to Date
Distance walked- miles. 16.2 406.6
Gross climb- feet. 720. 31,996
Song of the day: Communications Breakdown by Led Zeppelin
Communication Breakdown, It's always the same,
I'm having a nervous breakdown, driving me insane!
Today was supposed to be an easy day, but somewhere, things got off track. The hike from Montefiascone to the "walls" of Viterbro went fairly smoothly, and we arrived there in about four hours. The best that can be said about this portion of the hike is that is was relatively short and we didn't get lost once. On the other side, it was dusty, hot and fairly boring. Most of the hike was conducted over unsheltered gravel roads, and it seemed like we were "eating dust" all morning from the cars, trucks, etc that would pass us on the road. Probably the big highlight of the walk was seeing a turtle on the road!
When we left Montefiascone at 8:15, the temperature on the pharmacy sign said 85 degrees F. By the time we arrived at Viterbro, it was in the low 90's. We stopped for a coke at a cafe just outside the city walls and mapped our path through the city.
The real problems started when we entered the walls of Viterbro. It is a very confusing medieivial town, with streets going every which way. There were signs for the Via Francigena on almost every corner, often pointing in opposite directions. Soon, we were hopelessly lost. We stopped into a tourist office and got a more detailed map and some not very good instructions to our hotel. We set out, optimistic that we would soon be resting in the comfortable confines of our hotel....not to be. We were lost again and seemed to be wandering all over.
Finally, after 45 minutes and many more wrong turns, we stumbled upon our hotel. Only to find nobody there. Several of the Itslaan B&B places we have stayed do not have full time people working at a front desk. The trick is that you call them on the phone, then they come to the place to meet you. Unfortunately, we do not have a phone on this trip. In a few other cities, we have had a neighboring business make a call for us. However, there weren't any businesses in the neighborhood. So, we set off to find a restaurant where we could grab a bite to eat and get them to make a call for us. We were hot and grumpy by this time...We found a restaurant about 4 or 5 streets away, and hoped that we would be able to remember our way back to the hotel.
While sitting down outside at the restaurant, who should wander by but Christian from Germany?! We last saw him several days ago. So, he joined us for lunch and we had a very enjoyable meal. About half way through our lunch, a huge rain storm came out of nowhere. A classic summer sort of storm with thunder and lightening. Fortunately, it stopped after 25 minutes or so. Part of the fun of this trip is ordering stuff off the menu that you don't know. Today, I ended up ordering something similar to lobster. I had no idea, thought I was ordering meat! It was good though:
We then had the restaurant call the hotel owner, who said he would meet us at the hotel in 30 minutes. So, we took our time at the restaurant and arrived at the hotel 35 minutes later. No hotel guy. We found a bench about a block away and waited for another 20 minutes until the owner showed up. A very nice young man (I was to later learn that he is only 22 years old!). Again, a terrific restoration of a very old building. Although once again, no air con, they did at least have a fan in the room.
After tending to our daily matters of washing clothes in the sink, getting cleaned up, and catching up on email, we decided to wander out into Viterbro. Viterbro is a city of about 70,000 people. It is best known as the place where Italy's gold is stored. Similar to Fort Knox in the USA. Additionally, it is the HQ of the air unit of the Italian army. We passed by the air base on our walk and saw lots of helicopters, jets, etc taking off.There is a lot ancient history in Viterbro around the Papapcy and the town hasa a Cathederal as well as a duomo.
Around 7:30, as we were wandering about, it began to rain, very hard. Thunder and lightning filled the skies. We did not have an umbrella and took refuge under a canopy with a nun. After about 40 minutes, the rain began to ease a bit and we ran to a pizza restaurant a few blocks away. After a good meal, we headed back to our hotel, only to get hopelessly lost again. Finally, after wandering around for another 35 minutes, we found our hotel. A very frustrating day of getting lost in Viterbro. It's probably a nice town, but we likely won't be back soon! A post note: we walked a total of 16.2 miles yesterday. 6 of these miles were wandering around and getting lost in Viterbro. The other 10 were walking from Montefiascone to Viterbro!
When planning this trip, I had made an aggressive assumption for tomorrow's legs and combined the equivalent of a day and a half of walking into one, a total of a little over 20 miles. However, with this heat (it is going to be mid 90's again tomorrow), we just won't be able to do this. So, we will take an early morning train for about 9 or 10 miles to make the day a little easier. Unfortunately, I have about 4 hours of calls on Friday evening for a board meeting and another business calls to the USA, so it will end up being a long day.