Day 41 of our Via Francigena pilgrimage took us from Vetralla to Sutri. Distance: 16.8 miles. Weather: clear, sunny; temperature: mid-80s.
There are some very sweet murals dedicated to the Via Francigena pilgrimage presently being created along the street. We saw them as we departed Vetralla, and I think they will be gorgeous by the time they are complete.
The first segment after clearing the city took us through a delightful bike-and-hike wooded section. We then entered an area that consisted of nocciola (hazelnut) orchards. I’ve never walked amongst hazelnut trees before. If you love Nutella on your breakfast pastries, then you’ll love this walk.
We came across the Torri di Orlando (Tower of Orlando) amongst some beautiful leafy oak trees. The ancient ruins consist of Roman funeral monuments from the first century B.C., and a 10th century church bell tower.
A Brief Stop in Capranica
Dan and I arrived at Capranica – the closest town after Vetralla – around 1:00 p.m. We stopped at a bar for tramezzini (hot tuna and artichoke sandwiches) and Coke. The carabinieri were out in force. That we should see carabinieri out and about was not strange. However, EVERYONE seemed stunned to see that the men were actually ticketing improperly parked vehicles. I tried not to stare, but the sight of indignant Italians flying out of bars to plead with the carabinieri was too fascinating not to watch.
Afterward, I decided to pop by the information office to see if they were issuing pilgrim stamps. However, I’d wager that office has not been used for some time. As soon as I opened the outer door I gagged over the heavy stench of urine.
In addition to the revolting odor, the foyer was covered with what looked like pigeon dung. I jiggled the handle of the inner door – closed.
It’s such a shame the information office was in such shambles. Capranica has a lot to offer. I loved the art in their churches. In particular, I loved some ceiling work that featured animals such as lions and bulls as heavenly beings.
Capranica also make exquisite cannoli. Most importantly, there’s the famous Etruscan architecture that has somehow stood the test of time.
A Walk in the Woods
Within 15 minutes of departing the town, Dan and I were gasping on one of THE steepest inclines we’ve seen in Italy. We weren’t the only ones…everyone that passed us was mopping their brows and waving a hand in greeting, too exhausted to speak.
The next few miles took us through the woods on a lovely nature trail. We got a very exuberant greeting from the largest dog I’ve seen in Italy, who was enjoying a cool-down splash in the stream. The owner ran out to quickly apologize. We told him it was okay – we were already dirty.
I’m seeing a couple of trends when it comes to animals as we get closer to Rome. First, the number of outdoor cats is increasing. They look like they are being cared for, but I’m curious why there are so many. Secondly, we’re seeing more and more signs of dogs as companions, rather than solely working dogs.
Arrival in Sutri
Sutri is known for its Etruscan necropolis and Roman amphitheater. However, the apartment I booked is actually 1.2 miles short of the official endpoint today. Naturally, it involved a steep uphill climb.
The apartment is clean and on a pleasant street. It’s not only roughly the same price as what we’d pay for a pilgrim hostel; it’s huge! It also has good Wi-Fi and hot water. Given all this, it seems petty to complain.
But why oh why is it so hard to get a roll of toilet paper? 😭
Tomorrow, we are off to Campagna di Roma.
Costs in Sutri
Lodging (per person): $29