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Walking along the Via Romea Germanica from Stade, near Hamburg, in Germany south through Austria and Italy to Rome.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Valenzano, Subbiano, & Arezzo – Day 89, 90 & 91 along the road.

Well here I am again, behind in the blog, but with a few stories to tell.  As I said last time, we were unable to stay at la Verna because it took us so long to walk from Bagno di Romagna.  We got ourselves organised in the morning and went back up the mountain to the Santuario.  The walk, both up and down, is as hard as I remember it from 2014 – especially after such an arduous time the previous day.  The views are as stunning as I remember them, as are the buildings of the Santuario.  So too were the crowds of tourists – to be expected in such a culturally and spiritually important place.  Hopefully the pictures below will convey something of the grandeur and beauty to be seen here.  After having a good look around we headed back down the hill, passing people huffing and puffing on their way up, with us wondering if they would make it!
La Verna is built on a huge rock.  It is a very big complex.

Jill (left) and Janet at la Verna.
The bells rang out while we were there.
The photo on the left shows a tour group.  If we had stayed in the pilgrim accomodation we would have stayed in the rooms above wher ethe tour group are standing.  Right - Jill is heading downhill passing just a few of the many we passed coming up hill.

We had left our packs at the Albergo, and so getting a Fromaggio Pannini (dry bread and cheese) for a picnic lunch along the way and collecting our packs we headed off on what should have been a fairly easy day.  Note I said “should have been” – it was easier than the day before, but by no means easy.  We had ups and downs of quite a substantial size, though fortunately most of the way was through pleasant tracks.  Heading up into the town of Chitignano we ran out of puff and perched on the guard rail for a breather.  I spotted a car coming slowly out of the football ground car park and on impulse put my thumb out.  We were dreading climbing the hill, and all we needed was a lift up to the town – about 600 metres away.  The lady not only took us up the hill, but drove a bit further to the gelati shop we were able to refresh with an ice-cream AND a cold drink, after which we were ready to face the last 5 kms of the day.  We had a room reserved in  castle, and as we came round the hill a couple of kilometres further on we saw it!  We had a deluxe room high in the castle, which was a late 1800’s reconstruction of the original medieval castle!  We hadn’t brought any food with us because we knew there was a restaurant there.  The trouble was that it was closed on a Sunday night – just the time when we were there.  We put on a plaintive face and the young man on reception offered to provide us with some bread and cheese.  Not only that, when he brought it to us we had a basket of fruit and tomatoes, and a plate of salami too.  We had quite a picnic in our room.  
The roof of this little chapel is made of huge stones.
Looking back at the Santuario la Verna, a few kilometres away.  The Rock on which it is built can be easily seen.  
Coming down a fairly steep hill we came to the little village of Sarna.  It is at the Croce di Sarna that the other path joined the one we were on.

Our goal appeared in the distance, and was quite impressive close up!

A view from the castle grounds......
.........and Jill getting ready to head downhill!
ON the way downhill we looked over at the village of  Poggio D'Acona, a village we had passed the afternoon before. 
Arriving at Subbiano.

The next day, Jill’s last day of walking with me, was to be an easy 8 kilometres, as we had walked the extra 5 the day before.  It was an even easier day because we were so busy enjoying the downhill jaunt that we completely missed the turn off, and ended up at the bottom of the hill!  There was no way that either of us were going to walk back up it (it was long and fairly steep) and so we just continued on to the train line and caught a train 1 stop to Subbiano, which was to be our stopping point for the day.  Here we wandered around the town, had lunch, and then caught the train to Arezzo.  The plan was for me to stay two nights in Arezzo, walking from Subbiano the next day, and for Jill to stay one night, before heading to Rome the next day, and then on home.  

Ambling around the town, in a shower of rain, we had a look at the frescos in the San Francesco Basilica, along with a display of  the history of Italian fashion since 1900.  The streets of the town had different coloured flags flying – four different ones.  We had missed the palio by one day!  Probably just as well, as we may not have found a room anywhere.  We went to the piazza where the palio had been held and watched the workmen clearing up while we ate a gelati.  They had done wonders in the day, but there was still a lot to be done.  When I went back to the Piazza the following night I watched the last truck (at 7.00 pm) go out with the final load of temporary fencing – it took just two days to remove the sand that had been laid, the stands for seating, the temporary fencing and all the rubbish!

The following day Jill and I shared a final breakfast at the railway station and went our separate ways, she to Rome, and I to Subbiano.  It was a really easy walk without the weight of my pack, even though it is only about 7 – 8 kilograms.  Most of the way was through farmland, except for a stretch that followed the river.  Here the path was really overgrown, and I was glad that I was well covered otherwise I might have had a few scratches on my legs.  For quite a few kilometres I was watching Arezzo, in the distance, get closer and closer.  The path comes into the town at the Duomo (Cathedral), perched at the top of a hill.  The afternoon before we thought we had visited the Cathedral, so I was quite surprised to find a totally different building in a completely different place!  It was strange going out for dinner later that night, on my own, after having Jill’s company.

Subbiano is on the River Arno

I had some good views along the way
The church at Ponte Alla Chiassa, and the remains of a bridge in Giovi.

Approaching Arezzo 
Arriving in Arrezo - a series of escalators can take people from this point to the Duomo.
The Duomo - outisde and inside,
We had a room in this old building, complete with frescos!
The piazza in Arezzo after the clean up

I will stop now, and continue the next time I have wifi.  I am actually in a wonderful town called Citta’ della Pieve, 5 days from Arezzo.  I will update ASAP.

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