Day 21 of our Via Francigena pilgrimage took us from Pontremoli to Filetto. Distance: 11.9 miles. Weather: partly cloudy, low 80s.
The 31 kilometer segment from Pontremoli to Aulla is described as challenging. Since the distances we’re walking have been longer than what the App and guidebooks have described, Dad decided to split the leg and end today’s walk in Filetto (roughly halfway).
A Gorgeous Sunday Stroll to Filetto
I love how much variety there was on today’s route. One of most enchanting parts of walk was weaving through the small towns. We’d duck through a small alleyway, go under someone’s balcony, and catch glimpses of Sunday morning life. The trail took us through woods, medieval towns, and equestrian farms. Men harvested hay and fed wood into a machine to be chopped.
It didn’t just look good. It also smelled incredible, like warmed-over figs, oregano, cedar, and rosemary.
If I were a local, I don’t know how kindly I’d take to the sight of people constantly traipsing through my town. Instead, I’m in awe over how friendly people have been.
Two older gentlemen grinned and clapped their hands in motivation as we climbed uphill.
“Forza, ragazzi! Mancano solo 530 chilometri!”
C’mon, guys! Only 530 kilometers (330 miles) to go (to Rome)!
That wasn’t the only kindness. One man heard his dog yapping and looked up. When he saw our walking sticks, he gently chastised her.
“Marta, lasciali in pace. Sono amici.”
Martha, leave them alone. They’re friends.
He asked us where we were from, then offered to bring out some cold water. I rest my case – the people here are incredible.
Many, Many Animals
I’m amused that it seems every country house has at least one dog. Beyond that, there are plenty of roosters, chickens, and horses.
Yes, horses! It was total karma. I could barely look at them without feeling wracked with guilt by the horse I’d accidentally consumed yesterday at the Sicilian festival in Pontremoli.
I’m so sorry, horse!
In a delightful surprise, late in the walk, we stumbled across a herd of wild goats. There had to have been at least eight. They took off as soon as we approached and quickly bounded down a hill.
The commune of Filetto has fewer than 1000 residents.
We arrived in Filetto at 2 p.m. We know for a fact we arrived at 2 p.m. exactly, because the church bells were so loud everyone jumped and then busted up laughing. Alas, we needed to wait until the B&B opened at 3 p.m. Three gregarious young teenagers chatted with Dad at length, and gave him the lay down of the area, and recommendations on where to eat.
The B&B apartment faced directly across the church bells. We set our bags down, and I was pulling a few things out when I heard a rapturous: “Thank you, God!”
I was surprised by my brother’s heartfelt exclamation. When I looked up to see what had inspired such religious fervor, I saw Dan pressing an enormous white towel against his face in delight.
After many days on the road wiping off with a minuscule quick-dry towel, I understood his joy. Full-sized towels? They’re nothing short of heaven.
We had dinner at a restaurant 200 meters from the B&B. The waiter brought out a delicious range of breads. Mom had testaroli, which is a regional specialty, and which is said to be Italy’s earliest form of pasta. When I read the menu, I was perplexed to see the gnocchi had several seafood ingredients in the sauce. For a few moments, I was confused. And then I realized…we are actually close to the ocean. (Less than 18 miles.)
It’s hard to believe. Just as it felt surreal to be eating dinner in an all but empty medieval courtyard listening to Ray Charles croon. Filetto’s beauty is so perfect it hardly feels real.
Tomorrow, it’s on to Aulla!
Pilgrim encounters: German, Italian, Swiss
Dinner: €19 ($20.31)
Lodging (apartment booked online): $100