Day 42 of our Via Francigena pilgrimage took us from Sutri to Campagnano di Roma. Distance: 16.8 miles. Weather: clear, sunny; temperature: high-80s.
Since we had a long walk ahead and temperatures soar in the afternoon, we left before sunrise. Today’s route traveled alongside Sutri’s Necropolis and amphitheater. We watched as vendors set up for a morning market.
However, our bet that things would be quiet on the road early on a Sunday quickly proved to be incorrect. We spent two miles on a particularly nasty road. There were long stretches during which there was no suitable shoulder. Adding to the danger was the fact that drivers were heading EAST, into a bright rising sun, making us harder to see. Dan handled the dives into the blackberry bushes with considerable more poise than I did.
That road was definitely NOT pedestrian friendly. Not only was it terrifying, it was littered with trash.
I felt immense relief when we finally made a left-hand turn onto a safe country road. It perfect for walking and took us by fields of wildflowers and golf courses.
Stop at Santa Monterosi
I had been concerned that bars would be closed on Sunday. Thankfully, we saw a bar with an immense pilgrim welcome sign as soon as we rounded the hill into town. The place was hopping! I had to admire their cleverness. By choosing to stay open, they had a quasi-monopoly on business. Almost every pilgrim we knew had the same thought and stopped for a cappuccino and pastry.
Dan and I finished our snack just as Mom and Dad arrived. Before departing Monterosi my brother and I stopped at the Church of St. Joseph to light a candle and say a quick prayer.
While Mary is prominently featured in every church we’ve been to, I always feel like St. Joseph does not get as much credit as he probably deserves. Then again, how can he?
This was one of the first churches I’ve been to that I feel gives a sweet shout-out to Jesus’ earthly father.
Although the route out of Monterosi directed us over an overpass showing four-lane highways, it soon led us onto a quiet road full of aromatic oregano and wild fennel.
Nature and Monte Gelato
I’m both bemused and incredulous over the Italian style of driving. The number of speeding cars increased as we drew close to the Valle de Treja (Treja Valley).
The Italians were rushing to nature!
I had been very excited when I first heard that we’d be passing through an area called “Monte Gelato” (Mount Gelato). At 12:30 p.m. the temperature was in the upper 80s and still climbing. I had dreamy visions of mountains of delicious cool gelato piled high.
I’m still not quite sure why there was no gelato in sight. The area was positively teeming with families and friends keen on seeing the Cascate di Monte Gelato. The waterfalls were indeed very beautiful, but they are a little too crowded to get the serenity most expect when they head off to nature.
In retrospect, I wish we had spent longer resting by the waterfalls. A long, hot segment awaited once we left the nature park. Dan and I are both pretty responsible when it comes to maintaining proper hydration levels. We never leave without making sure we’ve filled all of bottles up.
And yet! Those last few miles into Campagnano di Roma were so intense in terms of climbing and heat that we both ran out of water.
Arrival in Campagnano di Roma
Since we were staying a mile and a half past town and it was 89 degrees, Dan and I made a rare second stop for Cokes at a bar after we arrived at Campagnano di Roma.
Our fast Italian friend was already there. We were joined shortly after by two Swedish women, and a lady from Tasmania. Like I said, when it rains it pours. We pilgrims have similar thoughts and needs. That final push into town is so intense I imagine the bar does especially well when it comes to selling beverages. We all bonded over our shared experience with that hill.
I had booked us a 1-bedroom apartment three kilometers from town center. Dan and I were met by a sweet older couple who gave us the sunniest of greetings. They explained that now that their children were grown, they had decided to rent out the apartment above their house. They made a nice fuss over Dan when they saw him, urging him to set down his backpack and rushing to get him a cool glass of water.
In short, they were the perfect hosts. The apartment was full of thoughtful details, such as perfectly rolled towel sets carefully wrapped in lavender sashes, and a breakfast of pastries for tomorrow. There are two balconies attached to the apartment: one for drying clothes, and one for relaxation.
Tomorrow, we are off to San Giustiniana. There was no lodging in La Storta, so we’re moving three kilometers beyond it to the next town.
Lodging (per person): $36