After a continental breakfast in English, French and Italian with fellow pilgrims plus Friars and volunteers at Convento San Miniato, I stepped out the door under perfect weather to begin a stage the guidebook called “very beautiful and quiet.”
“Quiet” is a fully accurate description. With few cars and mostly on dirt or gravel roads and paths, the stage was deeply tranquil. To call it merely “very beautiful,” though, is to sell it short. Somehow bellissima sounds better. It was gorgeous.
Today’s track follows a long and winding ridge line gradually south from the heights of San Miniato Alto. Though there were a few downhill stretches, the path never seemed to reach the bottom of any valley. Instead, the ridge continually offered dramatic panoramas first on the right and then on the left — over and over all day long.
No photography could really do justice to the beauty, but here are a couple of attempts using the iPhone “Panorama” function.
Today was a walk through the places farmers take their lunch midday or carry their dinner to at night to marvel in the beauty of their workplace. To walk through it does it more justice than to breeze through it in the comfort of a car or I think even on the seat of a bike. It’s not just the sights that make the day, but also the sounds and smells. I watched tiny lizards scamper away from me as I placed one foot in front of the other on the path. I heard the bees doing their zigzaggy work in the lazy afternoon sun. I felt the wind pick up after noon and I watched the clouds roll slowly in. I waited for them and then felt them — the raindrops falling from the darkened clouds onto the warm and salty skin of my face. Slowly and in the calm the beauty sang in its own voice — a song of wonder and love.
As for me — I’m feeling well. My ankle pain is behind me. I’m nursing a dry and cracked blister on my right heel, but nothing painful. I’m getting stronger — feeling my legs under me now. It’s hard to eat enough to keep up with the calorie expenditure, so my clothes are loosening slightly. My Italian is becoming more confident, but not better. I’m enjoying brief and long conversations with other pilgrims. And I’m having fun.