Sometime in the dark of night I reached over from the bed in the monastery bunk room to the little shelf where my iPhone was charging. Before I knew it, the phone slipped from my fingers and fell onto the hard, tile floor. I turned it on to see if it was ok. No problems, it seemed. Another tumble for my indestructible and irreplaceable iPhone. Among all the normal things that are so important, my iPhone contains three guidebooks for this walk as well as two GPS systems so I won’t get lost.
So as I walked out of the gates of San Gimignano this morning at 7:30 I was dismayed to discover the GPS function wasn’t working. Not only that, but somehow the waymarkings today would prove to be some of the most sparse I’ve seen on this walk.
I was not far into the second kilometer of the day’s walk when I realized I hadn’t seen a waymark in quite some time. So I backtracked about 500m to the last one and discovered yes, I was where I was supposed to be. Result — an extra kilometer added to the day’s total.
About a kilometer later I caught up with “Nonna Emma,” a 92-year old Italian pilgrim who’s walking from her home in Northern Italy to Rome for the Holy Year. I knew Granny Emma was ahead on the trail, her walk being something of a sensation, but even so it was a delight to actually meet her. I chatted with her and her companion, Loredana, before continuing on.
After this brief time on the road the path veered off into the deep woods where it would spend most of the day. I counted three stream crossings, many vineyards tucked among the trees, and as always here in Tuscany some amazing vistas along the way.
At one point I looked up and saw ahead of me one of the biggest hills I’ve yet climbed on this walk. I huffed and puffed my way up and followed the road another kilometer or so, never seeing a familiar red/white waymark. Tracing my way backwards I realized I’d made a wrong turn at the bottom of the big hill. So I headed back down the hill I’d just climbed. I’d say the result was another 3km added to the day. Dang, this is adding up!
I finally arrived at the little town of Quartaia much later than planned and decided to splurge on a dessert at 11am. “What’s that creamy looking cake?” I asked. “Tarta della Nonna” was the reply. Granny’s cake.
As I enjoyed my cake I asked myself, “What if I just banged my phone on the table a couple of times? Could I get the GPS function to work?
Guess what. I banged it three times and…. Kah-bang. It worked! No more getting lost.
As I neared Monteriggioni at day’s end I spied a gorgeous city on a hill, completely behind medieval walls. Could that be Monteriggioni? Sure enough, this is a fascinating little village, surrounded by stone walls, situated stop a hill. Our hostel for the night is inside the walls, next to the ancient parish church. After dinner with Tor and Eiler — I bought them each a piece of Monteriggioni’s version of tarta della nonna— it was off to bed. Tomorrow: Siena.