Days 7 & 8 – Montefiascone to Bolsena then to Acquapendente

Hazy Lake Bolsena peeks out between a break in the trees.

Hazy Lake Bolsena peeks out between a break in the trees.

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.

Sometimes we have to share the water fountains with the locals

Sometimes we have to share the water fountains with the locals

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.

A herd of sheep stood out sharply in contrast to the bright green fields in which they were grazing, their guard dog taking the opportunity for a break from his duties.

A herd of sheep stood out sharply in contrast to the bright green fields in which they were grazing, their guard dog taking the opportunity for a break from his duties.

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.

Did we take a wrong turn or what?

Did we take a wrong turn or what?

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.

Day 8 -Bolsena-Acqua_snake.JPG

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.

Approaching Bolsena

Approaching Bolsena

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.

Basilica di Santa Cristina

Basilica di Santa Cristina

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.

A deserted piaza in Bolsena

A deserted piaza in Bolsena

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.

A woodsy Via Francigena path. Note the red/white trail marker on the mossy rock. We constantly searched for them to insure we were still on the right track.

A woodsy Via Francigena path. Note the red/white trail marker on the mossy rock. We constantly searched for them to insure we were still on the right track.

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.

A fixer-upper, maybe?

A fixer-upper, maybe?

Ever wonder where canola oil comes from?

Ever wonder where canola oil comes from?

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.

Day 8 -Bolsena-Acqua_gelato break in san lorenzo.JPG

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 -Bolsena-Acqua_francigena challenge shirt.JPG

Day 8 - 15.5 miles walked/ 36,066 steps

Leg distance: 14.3 miles – 1168 miles to Canterbury