Marion: it was great starting at 6am this morning as we had a long wayto go and it meant we could walk in the cool of the morning. We started off walking between sunflowers. It amazing when we start in the mornings we always have shade - later in teh day when it is hot we seem to have any shade. the scenery again was magnificent, but boy oh boy did we have hills. have to say my legs are getting stronger and my brething better, so managing with the hills.
Syl: Just a few words on the various maps and guides available on the VF. We bought daily stage maps called Topofrancigena and we also downloaded maps and a daily guide from the AVF website. They have both been very useful. The Topo maps give you a picture of the whole stage but no details of where to turn L or R or distances between land marks. I don’t think anyone could actually walk the Via F with only those maps. The guide - which we call our 'cryptic clues' because of the 'google' translation from Italian to English, has been invaluable in getting us through towns and directing us in places such as fileds and pastures. In Siena the guide said ' start at the Via Citta above the Campo follow a small alley to the porta Roma. Turn sharp L into the Certosa Road ... etc' These directions got us safely out of Sienna and onto the right road where we picked up the Vf signs and stickers and followed both all the way to Lucignano. The big difference is in the MILAGES given. The Topo maps said it was 19km from Sienna to Lucignano, the Guide said 23.5 to Lucignano. BY the time we walked into the plaza at Monteroni we'd done 22km. We still had to walk 3km to Lucignano. Yesterday’s stage on the Topo map said 24km from Licignano to San Quirico. Our host at the B& B said that it was 30km. 90% of the route was on a tarred road and when we arrived in San Quirico we'd walked 30.5km. Today we will walk to Abbadia to San Salvatore. The Topo map says 27km. The man who owns the Tabachi shop accross the road, who lives in Abbadia, told us that it is 32km - not 27. So our advice to other pilgrims would be; add at least 5km to the distance on the Topo maps each day. If you don't want to walk 30 plus km plan your daily stage accordingly by stopping at a place before the one given on the Topo. The maps are not always to scale so use a good road map of Italy as well to plan your daily satges. It would be well worth the time and effort to download the AVF guides as well (or copy our Google translated edition from the Yahoo VF Group website.) Becuse we have walked alsmost 50 km more than intended over the past two weeks and because of the excessive heat, we will get a bus to plus minus 10km down the road today and walk the last 22km only.
Kathy: for fellow walkers. Early int eh morning (when it is cooler) and when walking walking on a tarred road or good (smooth) dirt path we can manage about 5km an hour. This might include some small ups and downs. The more uneven and demanding because of grass, or road rubble the slowetr we are. Here we only manage 3km per hour. so it really depends ... the heatis also catching us and we believe as Durbanits we are immune to heat! the climbing up and down is also very draining. Havinf ìg the correct lilage would really help with planning.
Val. We left extra early today at the first thiong we passsed were fileds of sunflowers - all the same height, all facing the same way- we shouted 'you are all individuals'!!!!!!! then we spotted a lone sunflower, who had grown heads above the rest and we sang, ' i want to break free' (courtesy of Queen).
Food reports - lunch yuk! lunch on the run means limited choice - we had ?calzone' - described as folded pizza with mozzorello cheeze and tomato. not as we know it - think 'VET KOEK' and you will get the idea. SUPPER. we are in another 'fortified town' called San Quirico. Oh, but this is so different - the only tourists are the VF5, we are ignored and I mean that as a compliment - we are treated the same as everyone else eating and drinking. They say'go where the locals go' - we go toa bar - old men in vets and parama hats - they drink, they play cards, theyread the newspaper. I go to the bar to order a drink to order a drink, they part so I can get to the bar - local young girl pushes to the front, they 'tell her off' they say 'respect for your elders' perhaps! we laughed and chat in y limited Italian - I but MArino and his mate a drink - I have two more 'best friends'. We have noted that the carabinieri are always hanging around the bars - are they collecting their protection money? whilst talking about carabinieri (police) there are certain members of our group who are rather partial to uniforms - especailly the boots and badges - add an italian male to the equation and it starts to look pretty good - thinkAntonia Banderos type but Italian, in uniform and you get the picture! (PS they also drive Alfa Romeos). Supper: anotehr side road restuarnat, very attractive inside, but few people. Alot of restaurants were closed until mid July but we couldn't find out why. Some had salds and potatoe chips, lasagne. R and V had ricotta and spinach ravioli with sage butter. Homemade large squares (3 to a dish) with really good flavour. I was expecting a burnt butter, brown and nutty with crisp sage, but it was more like an oil pired over with 2 plain sage leaves. so the dish although tasting great looked insiped. however, just becasue the chef on BBC food uses brown butter doesn't mean its authentic, I guess? I'm still carrying the curtains, we havenàt manmaged to post them but thats another story.
Read my M and typed by K. E&OE!