Even as a season of camino-walking begins in Spain I’m starting to prepare for something new and different — a camino in Italy to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s an interesting year to take this walk, with the papacy of Francis bringing renewed attention to the simple 12th century friar of Umbria.
The trip is full of unknowns. None of our group — Sebastian, Jacqueline, Andreas and I — speak Italian. We’ll be relying on my Spanish to get us through. We lack a decent and current guidebook — the most recent one is a 2010 version in German. We’re not even sure about accommodations. We’ve heard rumors of monastery hostels with sheets and pillows, but don’t really know about reservations necessary or even whether we should bring our sleeping bags as backup. We’ll depend on promises of warm Italian weather to keep us from freezing at night. We’re also hearing of steep climbs in some places, a requirement when visiting several of those beautiful Italian hill towns that look so pretty — from a distance.
Without a sleeping bag I’ll likely get a smaller backpack to carry. Likely something in the 35L range, like the Osprey Stratos 36. This is 15 +/- liters smaller than my previous camino packs which, without a sleeping bag, should be fine.
I’ve also thought a lot about boots and have decided to wear my Treksta Evolution Mid-GTX. This is a highly-rated mid-high lightweight hi-tech boot that, while made with Gore-Tex, should still be fairly cool with thin, wool socks. I’ve worn these boots over the last year in walks around town and they’re very comfy. The waterproof feature hopefully won’t be put to use.
Most everything else will be tested-tried-and-true gear from previous caminos. The only other exception being a decent hiking map for the GPS function on my iPhone. I’m still looking for that — but am also doing my best to trust the outdated German guidebook.
St. Francis, here we come!