Monday, July 10, 2006

Day 25 Viterbo to Capranica 36km

Marion: Today we had quite a distance to walk, we were not 100% sure if our distance was 31k or 3k. We started off early at 06.00am. It is so enjoyable to walk early as then it is cool. We walked mostly on dirt paths and through a couple of forests. We had a short spell on the Cassia which was awful as there was a lot of traffic, quite scary!!. When we stopped at Ventralla before lunch time approximately 11.00am on a temperature gauge I saw it was 34 degrees so I am sure the temperature today must have gone up to 40 degrees. I think we all did so well today!!

Syl: Last night Italy won the World Cup and we slept through the last half of the game. We were all just too tired to stay up watching. At 5.00am we turned the TV on to CNN and learned the score. BRAVO ITALIA!! Nearly every house and building had an Italian flag flying or draped over windows and balconies. Even the beautiful Roman style church that was built in 1417. The old oak tree, where the Virgin appeared, now forms part of the main altar. The ceiling is an amazing pilastered fresco covered in gold leaf paid for by donations from devotees. We entered the church and saw a white robed priest up near the altar preparing for mass. We walked up to him and told him that we were pilgrims nad asked for a stamp in our passports. He was so friendly and helpful taking us through to the sacristy and offering us a seat whilst stamping all 5 passports. Before we left he showed us the "blessed oak" and a side chapel - "Bellisimo?" We nodded, yes it was more than bellisimo. Then he said goodbye and good journey and Marion and I crept quitely down the side to the door. he called to us but we thought he was shooing us away so we scuttered to the door. He beckoned to us and showed us a view and sound box on the wall, put a E1 in the slot and Marion and I were able to hold our earphone and listed to the miraculous story about the apparitition, the miracles that ensued and the building of the church, etc, sculptures and artworks. We left just as mass was starting. We left the church energised and thrilled by his kindness and generosity. We went back to the hotel, had dinner and then went to bed at about 0900am. It was a lovely VF day again today (except for the 3km on the Cassia) through olive groves, hazelbut orchards, kiwi fruit vines, vineyards and sunflower fields. When you walk through acres of sunflowers and you are in the "Zone" - hot, tired and walking like a zombie, your eyes start playing tricks on you. Today I saw a tall sunflower plant with a huge flower standing above the rest. It didn't have a plain face but a large, dark eye, like a cyclops and as I approached, the eye was looking at me. Just like those optical illusion paintings, the cyclops followed me as I walked past and went on by. Then all the sunflowers seemed to be following me - it was very strange. We had at least 35km to walk today. We didn't know if our B & B was in or out of town. We were thrilled to discover that it was 5km on the road before Capranica. After walking 32km we saw the B & B sign - 250m - and were soon settling in our rooms in a lovely house on a Hazelnut farm. At 6.20pm we got a bus into town, had dinner in what we think was the only restaurant in the Old Town and got the 0845pm bus back to the farm. The lady of the house met us and took us on a historical tour of the area on foot. Under her driveway is an ancient Roman road. The pillars supporting the porch incorporated Roman columns found on the farm. About a km away we came to some ancient Estrucan ruins with Roman additions. It ws quite romantic and exotic to view these ruins in the moonlight and we didn't get to bed until after 10pm. La late night for pellegrini.

Val: We have tasted Cappuccino's from the Italian Alps to almost Rome, in back street bars, Mama's ristorantes, pizzeria, trattoria and a 4 Star hotel. So its official - A true Italian Cappuccino is a cup of luke warm froth, no chocolate or cocoa on top, not a biscuit on the side and not a newspaper in sight.
We are keen to know who sets the criteria for the Sunday Tribune's Great Cappuccino Competition - meanwhile the first thing we are going to do when we get to JHB airport is get a "real" Cappuccino!!

We are 5kms away from Town and supper - there are no taxis and we don't have tickets for the bus. You can only get a ticket for the bus from a Tobacco but the nearest is in Town! The Son of the B & B owner tells us that we can purchase a ticket on the bus but it will cost E5 each instead of E1. We decide that we need a good supper, we have not been able to purchase milk or anything for breakfast the last few days and we had a really grotty lunch break. So we wait at the end of the road and when the bus comes we request tickets. The bus driver is unpleasant and waves two tickets at us, this is all he has to sell. Syl does a really good job of convincing him we are starving pilgrims and he allows us to all get on the bus with just two tickets. We arrive in town. By no stretch of the imagination could Capranica be considered a tourist attraction. We see only one Ristorante with anything close to kerb appeal. It is closed. We wander around for ages just trying to find somewhere to eat. It is the kind of place that you suspect you are in the "downtown" area and any moment now you are going to turn the corner to see umbrellas and ristorante's. But it doesn't happen and we are close to resigning ourselves to catch the bus back and the thought of reconstituted melba toasts from the day before and the one packet soup that Syl has carried for 300kms. Then a local woman tells us to go down the road and turn right. We see a doorway with curtains, it doesn't look promising. But we push through and there are tables!
We are shown to a table by the owner. He has a picture of an African woman on the wall and says he knows about Johannesburg. He brings us water and wine. We see an extensive menu on the wall and are already deciding what we might have. He arrives without menu's - you can have pasta, pasta or pasta he says. He is quite sauve and confident. You can have pasta with tomato and basil or with mushrooms. The variations of pasta fall off his tongue but we can't quite catch the meaning. I ask if I can have olives - no olives he says (after all this is Italy). I ask if I can have Anchovies but my pronunciation of "acciughe" is obviously not too good and I have to show him the word in my Phrase book. He looks outraged "No!!" He then starts to recite the choices again and I pick up "sausage" and I say I do not understand the other word. He looks up the word in my phrase book and it is baby artichokes. Yes I say "Italian sausage and artichokes would be good". He raises his eyes to the ceiling, shrugs his shoulders and marches off to the kitchen.
Within moments the girls pasta's arrive, two with tomato and two with mushroom. A while later a plate arrives with 4 halves of artichokes. Oops! What have I ordered. Much later he comes to the table and says your order is coming. I have by now eaten my artichokes because I gather he would not lower his standards to include it in my dish of pasta. We then see him take a dish from the kitchen hatch. It is a plate, not a bowl - so no pasta for me. He sets before me a plate with two boiled sausages, Wild Boar me thinks! But also on the plate are delicious white butter beans which have been cooked in a flavourful sauce of herbs with just a hint of tomato. I really enjoy it. He arrives to clear the plates and looks disappointed that I have eaten it and even moped up the juices with the bread!
We ask for the bill - he gets up from the table where he is eating with a customer and shrugs and says E35.


D&J said...

Hi Ladies, good to hear about the Cappuccino's. If we can find a coffee shop that will allow it, ladies, I would like to make you all South African Cappuccino's, with chocolate topping, biscuit and a newspaper.

Delano & Jacques

Dave Bennett said...

Well you finally made it. Well done. We are looking forward to hearing EVEREYTHING. Bravo to you all. Dave and Antoinette