Day 7 – Montefiascone to Bolsena
Having success with our tentative new Plan B, we thought we’d give it another try. The next leg of the Via Francigena was a 12-mile hike from Montefiascone to Bolsena. The day was pleasant, cool to start, but warming up to t-shirt weather by the late morning.
The path took us out of Montefiascone and through the verdant countryside, through a local reserve, over gentle hills following the contour of the land. There were lots of picnic tables and rest areas along the route which were strategically placed along with fountains to fill our water bottles as needed. On occasion, we had to share a fountain with its local inhabitants.
Every once in awhile hazy Lake Bolsena appeared through a break in the trees and gave us a peek. Unfortunately, the path never did get down to the lake’s edge and extra steps weren’t a major consideration.
We noted today that we haven’t seen many wild animals since we’ve been in ltaly. We’d seen ‘Watch for Deer’ signs, but saw no deer. We were told there were squirrels in the cities, but never saw any. We saw no rabbits and only a few birds, though we heard birdsong frequently.
We’ve seen a couple of garden variety snakes and frogs. We think we saw a mole this morning scampering across the path in front of us, but we’re not sure. Moles are not usual sightings for us. In actuality, we really aren’t sure what kind of wild animals live in Italy. We’ll have to check that out.
The trek ended at the Basilica di Santa Cristina, the patron saint of Bolsena and of the local fishermen. Her story goes like this… Beautiful 11-year-old Cristina is denounced by her father for being a Christian. He imprisons her, beats her and finally turns her over to the judges who torture her and finally sentence her to drowning by tying a millstone around her neck and throwing her into the lake. Angels appear and float the millstone and Cristina to shore safely. The judges are tough, however, and after yet more torture, she was killed by arrows. Whew! This veneration of Cristina dates back to the 4th century AD. The church which honors her dates from the 11th century.
We found a place for a coffee and slice of pizza, then made our way through the empty plaza to the bus stop and caught the last bus of the day back to Montefiascone. Though our progress is slower than planned, Plan B seems to be working.
We met up with 60 pilgrims today from France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Birmingham, Alabama. We chatted with some, waved hello to others, wishing them a Buon Camino!
Day 7 - 12.3 miles walked/ 28,595 steps
Leg distance: 11.3 miles– 1182 miles to Canterbury
Day 8 – Acquapendente to Bolsena – Backwards once again
David has taken charge of logistics on our backwards/forwards trek. He researches and plans the route, figures out bus schedules and I just walk and follow along. It’s quite nice actually. Today, however, was a rather crazy day. We planned to take a bus to Acquapendente and walk back 14 miles to Bolsena. We were up and out of the hotel by 0730, skipping breakfast to make the earliest bus. We found out quite by accident (because the bus never showed up) that it was yet another Italian holiday, Liberation Day, celebrating liberation from the Nazis in WWII. Once again, the bus schedule was limited and the bus we planned to take was not running. We walked back up the steep hills to the hotel, claimed our missed breakfast and 1-1/2 hours later walked back down the hills to the bus stop.
It was a fairly easy walk, keeping again to the contour of the land, along old cart roads, past vineyards and farmlands. Since we had a late start, we were walking in the heat of the day and by 1-2 pm, we were definitely hot and sweaty. Well, David was sweaty… I was glistening.
When we passed through the small town of San Lorenzo we had an overwhelming need for a gelato. We saw a sign: “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy ice cream and that’s pretty close”. It worked for us.
We entered the old city from the high road with significant effort rewarded by outstanding views. The town that had been nearly empty yesterday was a hive of activity today. Bolsena was celebrating a Festival of the Lake and the crowds were thick. Just click on a thumbnail to enlarge the photo.
We were early for our return bus and found Romano’s Pub for a cold, most appreciated draft beer. It felt great to sit, sip beer and people watch. We finally maneuvered our way through the crowds, down the steep, labyrinthine steps to the piazza (plaza) which was full of artisan’s booths and vendor’s tents.
Luckily, the bus arrived on time and deposited us back in Montefiascone. We trudged back up the hills to our hotel and collapsed in our room. No dinner tonight … just too tired. Thank goodness we had planned ahead … a bottle of wine awaited us. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Day 8 - 15.5 miles walked/ 36,066 steps
Leg distance: 14.3 miles – 1168 miles to Canterbury
Continue on with the third section of the VF from Montefiascone to Siena. You’ll be glad you did!