I'm starting to think that my schedule for the walk might be just a bit too ambitious. Instead of the anticipated but still fairly massive 8 hours 30 minutes, today was another 10 hour slog. True we did treat ourselves to a beer stop, and true we lost the route afterwards, wasting thirty minutes, but somehow we seem to be off the pace. The timings on the route only add to the confusion. There is one route but it has separate signs for the pilgrims on the St Francis Way and the sinners on the GEA. The pilgrims, with God on their side, are expected to go a lot faster.
|Saints & Sinners|
The first stretch of the walk, down to Pieve San Stefana, was excellent, perfect early morning autumn sun and good views. Pieve San Stefana was interesting, full of elderly people chatting and waiting for the market to start and oblivious to the motorway which was running almost over their heads.
|Approaching Pieve San Stefana|
Climbing out of Pieve San Stefana, the route was once again in trees but now the beech from the previous day had given way completely to oak. The good weather continued although it was now getting a little hot.
Caprese Michelangelo came into view and fooled us into thinking it was only 20 minutes away when, after a trip around the head of a valley and a descent into a gorge, it took us more like an hour to get there. Caprese Michelangelo is a favourite place and seeing it again bought back memories of a long multi course boozy lunch enjoyed with family and friends.
After climbing to the top, and in the heat of the day, Chris was clearly flagging but turned down the suggestion that he should catch a bus and instead took up the offer of a beer. Despite the disappointment of missing the route post beer we were soon making good progress up the 700 metre climb to Eremo La Casella, site of a St Francis stopover. The building at the top was a little dull supposedly designed to match the hair shirt nature of the saint.
|Eremo La Casella|
Apart from a final sting in the tail the descent down to Chuisi La Verna was good. The weather was changing from bright to sombre (including lightening flashes) and back to bright again and the views to the town and the Sanctuary of La Verna above it were wonderful. The sting in the tail was a horrible and treacherous little gorge at the bottom and a walk past a dog prison on the way into Chuisi La Verna. The dog inmates went crazy as we went past, first barking at me then, about 90 seconds later at Chris.
After Chris had filled himself up with water at the Campari fountain we were escorted to our hotel by a friendly exile from Edinburgh. She showed us the spot the Michelangelo, whose father was mayor of the town, was supposed to have painted Adam, something the town has probably been dining out on ever since.
|Water not wine or even Campari|
Got to the hotel, the Da Giovanni, at just after six and very nice it was to, particularly after such a long day.
|Where Michelangelo painted Adam (supposedly)|
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