4. Francigena – the old road. (May 28)

Simon and I left Nonna Loreta to clean up our breakfast dishes, and rode up into the hills, passing a pretty sanctuary for a blessing. It is Brandon’s 30th birthday today!

Madonna del Sorba
I met Doris, a very nice lady from Bremen who is walking the pilgrimage to St.Peters.

Flocks of white butterflies are doing their thing. Chickens are popular out here on the farms, I hear them crowing across the fields.
Two little dogs ran out to nip our heals.

Excellent lunch of what looked like worms, with mushrooms…they are called bighetti pasta.

Power bar stop. The roads changed from gravel, to dust, to high speed tarmac, but always always full of holes and rough patches.

Simon phoned ahead to Vetralla for a room. He used the Francigena guide book for a recommendation. Especially for Pilgrims from the north.
The place is rustic. Our beds are raw mattresses with a bit of paper down the centre. It’s a little loft with plastic walls, and as hot as hell. I lay in the heat for a while then gave up and came down to the lobby where I took the chair seat cushions and lay them in a row and lay there with achey joints all night. We only rode 56kms, but it was mostly very rough and steep. Mountain bikes would be more suitable.

Highlight of the Day. In the village of Campagnano there was a market in the square. A little boy of about 6 years, came up to me while I was pushing my bike along. He stopped me and reached up to gently stroke the handlebar bag, looked up at me with huge brown eyes and asked if my bike was all new? I said it was. He traced my bike picture with his finger….. until his mother dragged him away.

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Albert Einstein said: "Life is like riding a bicycle, to stay balanced you've got to keep moving". So to keep moving at my age, I'm wobbled off on my bike on the 26th May 2018. Starting from home in Rome and aiming for Oslo in Norway, to visit my family. (We are South African scatterlings). In a few words, I cycled up the spine of Italy along the hilly Apennines, across the Po valley and up over the Alps. Slightly west at Lake Constance to get into the Rhine Valley and heading up to Hamburg and then over to Denmark. A long haul up the west coast of Sweden into Norway and arrived in Oslo on the 24th July 2018. Admittedly it's much quicker to jet back and forth, but this time I'm going green, hoping to inspire others to ride their bikes too. E-bikes have made it possible to travel around much more easily, even for the unfit 'over-the-hill' grandmothers like me. Along the way I stopped to paint watercolour sketches, take photographs, visit beautiful towns. I hope to put this amazing adventure into a little book for those who fancy doing something similar.

4 thoughts on “4. Francigena – the old road. (May 28)

  1. Oh Leanne, i thought our Camino was tough. I think i’d rather walk than be on a bumpy dusty road on a bike. Can imagine how your butt must be aching.
    This same day 2 years ago we were, maybe in Cebreiro or Alto do Poyo, and i feared not to be able to make it all the way to Santiago. But you gave me the push to carry on.
    When Simi must leave you to go back to work you will have to count only on yourself. I trust in your intuitions but when in doubt and there is fear of uncertainess just say these words “Jesus is in my heart”. And you will be fine. Trust me😘.


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