Day 2-Via Francigena – Isola Farnese to Campagnano di Roma

Caves in the hillsides everywhere

Caves in the hillsides everywhere

It was cold and misty in the morning. Our room included an Italian breakfast which isn’t much… coffee/tea, a sweet roll and/or prepackaged toast squares, all served on the proprietor’s own schedule, not necessarily ours. We were on the track by 0900, later than anticipated, but eager to be moving on.

With directions from our host, we immediately headed out on the wrong trail. There are several variations of the Via Francigena (VF) some more difficult, some longer, some shorter, and we walked ½ mile before we realized we were on the wrong one. This unfortunately meant climbing back up the steep, steep hill we’d just descended. This would be the first of many, many, steep, steep hills we would climb this day.

We did, however, pass some cool caves and wondered about them. Evidently, the country has many grottoes, caves and caverns due to its volcanic geology. Karst, a limestone topography which allows underground drainage, results in lots of caves in this region. People have been documented to have lived in many of these caves for tens of thousands of years. Now, some are fenced or gated off and they are either unsafe or used for storage, animal pens… or perhaps mother-in-law apartments.

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Today’s walk took us through Etruscan ruins in the Parco di Veio. The ancient Etruscan civilization is dated from ~700BCE-400BCE. Honestly, we didn’t see many ruins because most required deviation from the path and we were hellbent to walk our 14+ miles on the VF without any additional sidetrips.

By a river and small waterfall, we passed an  antico molino , an ancient mill.

By a river and small waterfall, we passed an antico molino, an ancient mill.

The Via Francigena markers always lead the way …just not always the way we want to go.

The Via Francigena markers always lead the way …just not always the way we want to go.

The landscapes in this area are gorgeous. The previous night’s rain, however, made for muddy trails and subsequently wet feet.

The landscapes in this area are gorgeous. The previous night’s rain, however, made for muddy trails and subsequently wet feet.

Midday, the sky clouded up and we geared up for the rain. We got more than we bargained for when the thunder and lightning clashed and hailstones pommeled us for 20 minutes or so, an unexpected treat for these pilgrims.

Hail, Pilgrim!

Hail, Pilgrim!

Speaking of pilgrims, we met six on our travels today. Two Americans from Ohio who started just north of here and four other Europeans who had started at various points in Italy, all heading to Rome. Typically, we chat for a minute or two and then bid each other Buon Camino (Italian for either ‘good walk’ or ‘happy trails’).

We stopped for a well-deserved coffee break in the pretty little town of Formello at the fortuitously named Colorado Cafe. How could we resist stopping there?

We stopped for a well-deserved coffee break in the pretty little town of Formello at the fortuitously named Colorado Cafe. How could we resist stopping there?

I’ve mentioned wildflowers already, but I marveled at them as we passed fields of poppies and daisies. I was dazzled. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

All day long, we went up and down, up and down, a killer on the legs, but we obviously survived. Italians certainly know their hills. It makes sense, of course, to build your city on the highest hill, making it more defensible. Our arrival into Campagnano di Roma certainly proved the point. We trudged up a steep cobble stone, narrow road through the arch into the old city … the centro storico, the historic center.

Italians certainly know to make steep hills. Yikes … a leg burner.

Italians certainly know to make steep hills. Yikes … a leg burner.

At last, the outskirts of Campagnano di Roma in the distance.

At last, the outskirts of Campagnano di Roma in the distance.

Arrival at our night’s accommodation, Andre’s House, was a bit disappointing. First, we couldn’t find it and no one seemed to know where it was. We called our host and she rescued us and took us around the corner to the apartment. The entrance was up steep stone stairs (ugh!) and pretty shabby looking.

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The inside, however, was anything but shabby. Though quite a pleasant place and very roomy, the bathroom was on one floor and our bedroom on another, a bit inconvenient plus it was cold. These old stone buildings, though awesome, are cold and hard to heat. The shower was so tiny that it was difficult to wash all your parts without some of your parts hanging out of the shower stall.

In the morning, our host had left breakfast supplies for us, more food than we’d been offered in the past and we dove into it. A hard-boiled egg, yogurt, packaged sweet rolls, packaged toasts, coffee/tea… all in our own kitchen. I grabbed my egg and started to peel it when I discovered it was not hard-boiled at all, just an uncooked egg which slithered into my bowl. Luckily, we found a pan, some butter and had a gas stove top. Scrambled eggs for breakfast and we were on our way.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Canterbury!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Canterbury!

Day 2 – Walked 15.18/miles/ 35,298 steps.

Leg distance 14.25 miles – 1244 miles to Canterbury

We’re walking to Sutri on Day 3. Let’s see what the new day holds.