“in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed” -
today’s new boots saw 35 km of walking - 25 of the prescribed path, plus a 10km round trip detour when we lost the path to
avoid barking dogs on the loose.
I walked with my friend Alice. It was hard to get going at 4AM for both of us, so we never caught the rest of the group.
But it as a wonderful walk of shared silence, incredible landscape, and music.
It was nice to share some “You too? I thought I was the only one” belly laughs about pilgrim stuff - stocking up on sheets of toilet paper in the bathroom of cafes with grouchy management, trying in vain to make yourself presentable when you reach a city like Siena or Lucca by walking the way.
I also learned some new Italian words, my favorite of all time maybe being “fare la scarpetta” - the technical term for eating every last drop of sauce from your pasta dish by soaking it up with a piece of bread when you finish the pasta.
”In my house,” she said, “if you don’t do it it like, is something wrong? Are you feeling sick?”
The animals we saw around us- the flighty birds that pop out of bushes and red-skinned roosters, are also apparently prepared into excellent dishes in Tuscany. After 25km, we started to get hungry. Just as we were listing favorite flavor of gelato, big bushes of blackberries - “more” (plural of mura, pronounced MORE- AY) appeared all along the path.
I am a bit of a “ghiottone” for wild berries so I have no pictures, but that I live another day without starving on the trail is maybe the best takeaway from these rows and rows of bushes. Even when we lost the Via Francigena for a few extra kms, a bright side was the fattest berries of the day, not yet picked over by other pilgrims.
It was a day of slowly discovering the Tuscany countryside, learning and sharing. In the end, I was glad I woke up at 4AM and dressed in yesteday’s damp running shorts instead of sleeping in and taking a train from the city. As my friend pointed out at 9AM- four hours into walking today, if we took a car, we could be in Rome for lunch!