Distance walked - miles. 14.4. 638.4
Gross climb- feet. 780. 53,734
Song of the day: Loretta by Townes Van Zandt:
Oh Loretta she's a barroom girl
Wears them sevens on her sleeve
Dances like a diamond shines
Tell me lies I love to believe
This ended up being a very good hiking day. After a terrific breakfast at the Spazio Bianco hotel, we set off for Roppollo. After a few blocks, we passed the local PIlgrim's association office. A man came running out to meet us. A very nice guy. He asked us all kinds of questions about our walk, wanted our feedback on the trail, etc. He told us how the Italians have aspirations to make the Via Francigena to the level of the Camino in Spain. We continued on our walk out of town, along the way passing several groups of elderly women who wished us "Bon giornando" or good journey. We have met many people along the way who provide us this kind of feedback.
An hour later, as we were walking along the trail, we came upon a few people working on the trail. One of the guys greeted us and said he had been expecting us! Apparently the man at the Pilgrim's office had called ahead. He told how they were working hard to improve the quality of the trail and the experience. We spent about 20 minutes talking to him and told him how much we appreciated what he was doing. It really is inspiring to see how committed these people are. I will also say that the trail markings today were probably the best we have seen on the trip and undoubtedly it's because of volunteers like these people. Here I am talking to the man:
The walk today was quite pleasant, much of it through wooded paths. There was a lot of water along the paths from the rains of yesterday, and in several areas, we encountered Mosquitos.
I've wanted to comment on the bulletin boards that we encounter in all the small towns in Italy. They are usually placed at the entrance to a town as well as the town square and play the role of a small town newspaper. We passed this board today and it is a great example. The lower two rows are obituaries of people who have recently died. In the upper right hand corner is an advertisement for a band that will be playing. There are also a few municipal announcements as well.
Another interesting item from today was the "Palatium Aqua" in the village of Pallazzo Canavese. Basically, this is a water dispensing machine. For 5 cents per liter, you can buy water (frizzante- with bubbles, or naturale- regular)! Linda and I filled up ( frizzante for me, naturale for Linda) and said it was the best 10 cents we have spent on this trip!
We also walked past Lake Viverone today, which made for a pleasant distraction in the warm afternoon sun.
In one of the small towns, we stopped for lunch at a bar and had an ok, but not great cheeseburger.
We arrived at our hotel Villa Emilia in the village of Roppollo. This is a very small B&B with 3 rooms, run by an eccentric and entertaining woman named Loretta. When we came in, Loretta greeted us with a big hug and talked about how excited she was to have Americans staying at her place! She mentioned that since it was Monday, the one other restaurant in town was closed, and would we join her for dinner? Well of course we said yes! She said that today was the 5th anniversary of her owning the hotel, and she wanted to celebrate!
The B&B was very nice, with many interesting collectibles. Linda was able to use Loretta's washing machine, so we have clean clothes for the remainder of the trip.
Last night, we had a terrific Italian dinner prepared by Loretta, and the two other guests- Francesco and Guiseppe joined us as well. Apparently Francesco and Guiseppe work in the area running a car parts factory, and stay at Lorretta's place from Monday to Friday in two of the rooms. The meal was great, and of course, much alcohol was consumed in the process! Loretta was quite something, entertaining us with stories about her life when she lived in Pakistan and Egypt. Guiseppe skyped his wife on his phone in Germany, and so we were able have her join us remotely!
This morning when we checked out, there was no charge on the bill for dinner or drinks. Loretta insisted that it was her treat to celebrate her 5th anniversary, but we gave her 50 euros to help defray some of costs.
All in all, a great way to wind down our walk on the Via. Today, we walk about 10 miles to Santhia and catch a one hour tain ride back to Milan (where this incredible journey began 7 weeks ago!). We will stay in Milan tonight and then fly back to the USA on Wed afternoon. We hope to do a little touring in Milan. Milan is not our favorite Italian city, but it does have a few things worth visiting.
Here are some photos of Loretta, Franceso and Guiseppe from last night: