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

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Viterbo, Vetrella, Sutri, Campagnano di Roma – day 103, 104, 105, 106, on the Via Romea Germanica.

update - photos now attached!

As I was leaving Montefiascone I stopped at a bar to supplement the dry toast and jam I had for brekky at the convent – spartan, but more than that – not appealing!  Sat with Annette, a German pilgrim who has been walking the Via Francigena form Gran San Bernard’s Pass.  She is the first pilgrim I have met since half way through Germany that I have spent time with, and we have been bumping into each other almost every day since which is really nice.  I am led to believe that there are at least a half a dozen pilgrims on the road, though Annette is the only one that I have seen more or less daily.  Where the others are I have no idea, but I am following in their footsteps, becoming quite familiar with the footprints they leave in the dust.
 Leaving Montefiascone there were magnificent views of Lake Bolsena ......

...... and even a pilgrim sculpture
Looking back towards Montefiascone

I am now on the road that I walked with Elizabeth back in 2009, the Via Francigena, and I am really surprised at the things that I have remembered – 9 years later.  I was able to tip Annette off about the thermal baths on the outskirts of Viterbo, and warned her that If she stopped for a “bath” (you can’t call it a swim), that she might not feel like walking afterwards – we didn’t!  There have been changes in those 9 years too.  When Elizabeth and I walked past the baths we just walked in off the road, hid behind a bush and changed, leaving our packs on one of the few benches there.  Now the baths have a fence around them, people have to pay to enter (though pilgrims are free), there are beach umbrellas by the dozen along with the standard “beach” gear of lounges to sunbake on, and across the road is a massive car park for, at a guess, at least a hundred cars!  The things that hasn’t changed is that the baths are on a hot white limestone road that seems to stretch interminably, with very little shade.
The baths on te way to Viterbo

By the time I got to Viterbo I was so hot and tired that I decided to book into a hotel rather than try and look for anything cheaper.   Viterbo, post siesta on a Sunday afternoon was buzzing, people out strolling, socialising, and  shopping.  For some reason there were people out wandering around in Medieval costume.  Later in the day I happened to be at a key vantage point to see the procession, led by a band of some sort – not a drum band, not a brass band, though it was comprised of both instruments.  I presume it is the sort of band used for this type of function as it contained many drums, and only a few heraldic type bugles.  After the band people meandered down the street dressed in Medieval fancier costumes with a “mob” of unruly peasants bringing up the rear “agitating”, followed finally by the police – who were managing road closures.  When I asked the lass at the desk where I stayed what the parade was for she didn’t have a clue that it was on or what it was for!  Suffice it to say that all the activity fitted in well with the medieval quarter of this historic town.
 Just some of the scenes from Viterbo.

 The street was really humming
The parade in Viterbo.

The next day I continued crossing the valley to Vetrella.  As I was walking along towards the distant hills, with the sun beating down, dust flying from tractors working the fields and from passing cars, and olive groves interspersed between the fields I half expected to see a paddock of saltbush and a kangaroo hop out!  The countryside reminded me of somewhere like the Mundi Mundi plains on the Barrier Highway – just to give Australians an idea of this area.  Though I had walked for over 30 kilometres from Montefiascone I could still see the village perched on top of the hill in the distance.  That night I could see the village lights on the hillside far away from my bedroom window.
 A fence on the way out of Viterbo
 A road cut out of the tuff cliff (left) and the covered Etruscan tombs on the way.
looking back over the plain from Viterbo, amongst an Olive grove

It was pleasing to have some bush to walk through the next day on the way to Sutri.  This meant a lot of shade!  For quite some kilometres that path followed a small stream, crisscrossing it frequently on rustic bridges of just a few tree trunks flung across.  Needless to say these slowed me down as I had to be careful not to loose my balance on them.  This is hazelnut country – miles and miles of hazelnut orchards which we walked through, and past.
 Hazlenut orchards, with a ruined castle in themiddle of one!
 The "Roman" pines are starting to appear
 Capranica was a delightful town to stop to eat and drink!
 On the outskirts of Capranica this fountain was a popular stop for the locals.  You can always tell when the water is particularly good because the locals turn up with many bottles to fill!
 Tree roots, and funny little bridges were the order of the day from Capranica.
Sutri (above and below

Leaving Sutri

In the village of Sutri Annette and I sat outside for dinner, right in the heart of the village.  A family sat next to us to watch the French / Belgium soccer match being televised.  Listening to them talk I could hear the children conversing in French, but slipping easily into Italian to talk to people like the waiter.  I spoke to one of the young lads, perhaps about 12 years old, who quickly said “I speak English” when I tried to say something to him in French.  Each of the three children spoke three languages fluently – mindboggling for me who struggles to put more than three words together in anything other than English.  It turns out that mother is Italian, which they speak at home, father is French and they go to a French school, and they lived in the US for 2 years where they became proficient in English.

This family told us about the history of Sutri.  Among other things Sutri was, in medieval times, the last village where pilgrims could tidy themselves up for their final jaunt into Rome.  The village had many cobblers as the pilgrims would spend time getting their shoes repaired so that they were tidy for their arrival in Rome.

The days walk to Campagnano di Roma reverted back to more hot white roads, though it did go through a nature park, and past yet more hazelnut farms.  The entry into the town of Campagnano is probably the steepest of any village I have entered on this path.  It too is on a tuff outcrop, and entering the village there is much repair work being done to the cliff.  Walking this way 9 years ago Elizabeth and I had the noise of motor vehicles on the nearby racetrack, but this time I heard nothing, all being quiet, presumably because it was midweek.
 the farmers have been busy alng the whole way - I loved this caterpillar tractor.  I could hear it creaking and groaning for quite some way.
 More olive groves
 I chose the reccomended way!, 
 which followed roads like this.
 The really old part of Campagnano di Roma is having major work done on it, presumably to stabalise the cliff that it sits on.
 Campagnano di Roma

I apologise that there are no photos, hopefully when I have time next week I will be able to add the photos.  I am now two days from Rome.  

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