“Life is either a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.”
- Edith Wharton
Today saw a powerful 30km Romewards. Somewhere after La Storta, I technically entered Rome but I also have no concept of where I am exactly in the labyrinth of suburbs, so I will not feel “Mission Accomplished” until the testimonium is in hand.
But who knows what the future will bring, so here’s the closest thing I can offer- a rough impression of today in the wake of a delicious pasta amatriciana...
This morning- a late start around 9am after a wonderful dinner with pilgrim friends from Florence and Reims!
How it ended -
“Keep in touch! I’m interested to know how your life will change after this experience”
Then this morning. I took about 3 cappuccinos at breakfast before promptly heading out the door in the wrong direction.
But I’m a girl with a compass. So within the hour I settled on the Via Roma in the good direction. I heard that the original ancient road is actually somewhere underneath this “Brutto” industrial road, sooo good enough for me. The cars never bothered me anyway.
Actually, I kind of like these “ugly” roads, where you can sense the direction of the energy towards civiliation. The Via Roma turned into the Via Cassia. a concerned motherly type rolled down the window to ask if “tutto” was “benne”. This doesn’t happen in the woods.
The car horns can even be cool. Today, in a surreal moment, one perfectly synchronized with the car horn audio in one of my favorite songs.
I think I’ve posted some of the lyrics before, today it was this part-
“There’s a world out there it’s calling my name, it’s calling yours too”.
What a vibe!
I also discovered no less than three trees with ripe figs.
Somewhere on this way, I was so high on the life and the energy and momentum- the chocolate, the sweet fruits, the occasional VF trail marker on this busy road so clearly leading to Rome, I went 2km past my target for the day, La Storta; a city with no center. Literally blink and you might miss it.
I kept going. I couldn’t stop singing, even when I passed concerned pedestrians.
“How can we go forward into something we’re not sure of? You know...”
And again, too stoked to notice the Via Francigena signs dropped until I was on the sketchiest road of all. I had to pause to find any way forward on a grassy knoll of garbage next to speeding, merging, traffic. I toed the line of the concrete barrier, tightrope style.
At least there was a train/bus station just beside. I hustled to a stopped bus to ask the drivers for advice. They weren’t going anywhere, actually, and a 5 minute discussion between three people yielded only this- take the train to San Pietro!
I say discussion, but the only serviceable Italian coming from my end was “Vaticano” accented by folded *prayer hands*.
I copied this useful gesture from a woman selling cigarettes along La Storta who I asked for directions the first time. She also recommended I take the train to San Pietro.
So I did. About 4 stops from Igpageo Devli Ottavia to Gemelli. I just felt like getting off here, no reason, or maybe the name sounds like a shape of pasta.
The train station belongs a sleepy part of town connected by a bike trails and made up of almost nothing but family-operated one room grocery stores. Not a Bed and Breakfast in sight, let alone an pilgrim refuge. I wondered for a moment if this would finally be the night I sleep on the street, but after less than an hour of trial and error, things panned out in the world’s okayest hotel by the Phillipines embassy.
And although checking into a hotel sometimes feels like it lacks the quality of divine intervention fit for the last day, really, the silence was holy, right down to the inexplicably broken WiFi and first bathtub since I crossed into Italy at Valley D’Aoste; my feather bed.