Castles, mountains and olives

Marco fills us in on cold press extra virgin olive oil in the Poggio San Lorenzo frantoio that’s been in his family for 400 years  

Day ten: Poggio Adam Lorenzo to Ponticelli — 22 km (13.7 miles)

Luke drove us in the van back to Poggio San Lorenzo and when we arrived we had a lecture from a Marco about his olive oil press. A big thanks to Francesco Lucioli for setting it up. Then we walked to Ponticelli via Poggio Moiano and had a great time in the gorgeous scenery.

Our group poses with Francesco and Marco. 

Hanging with Francesco. 

Then we walked….

….through beautiful scenery …..

….met new friends……

….stopped at ancient churches……

….with amazing exterior carvings……

….and beautiful interiors. 

San Martini church, Poggio Moiano. 

Poggio Moiano bridge. 

Then we stayed the night in 15th century Castello Orsini. 

New friendships made as the miles accumulate

May delRe’s photo of our group at dinner. Our hotel was once a prince’s hunting lodge  

Day nine: Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo — 21 km (13 miles)

We walked from Rieti to Ponte Sambuco where we met three Austrian Pilgrims and had lunch. Then the stronger walkers went on to Poggio San Lorenzo while the others returned by van to the hotel (Villa Park Potenziani) where they enjoyed a few more hours in the lovely setting. I’m loving how barriers are coming down in the group and we are starting to really enjoy each other’s company.

We walk along Via Salaria to leave Rieti. 

Roman bridge at Ponte Sambuco (third century). 

Ornaro in the distance. 

Our group in the woods. 

Look closely at the sign and you’ll see the group is at the 100km left to Rome marker. 

Rest day trip to Greccio brings visions of Christmas

The bronze Saint makes a point  

Rest day in Rieti

Long ago we scheduled a rest day here to give our pilgrims a break. They celebrated the special day by scattering all over town in the morning. In the afternoon we loaded up a van and drove to Greccio, scene of the first Natvity crèche, a brilliant, viral idea of Francis.

What decades of unresolved anger looks like. 

Aussie couple Brian and Shirley are finishing up their walk to Rome using a certain guidebook. 

So is touring Rieti the equivalent of navel gazing?

Thirteenth century fresco remembers Francis and the nativity scene. 

The church at Greccio includes nativity scenes from all over the world, including this one. 

And this grand one. 

And this tiny one. 

Mural on tiles. 

Luke was enlisted by a friar to help arrange a bulletin board. 

Walking our way to a rest day

Francis mosaic at La Foresta.

Day eight: Poggio Bustone to Rieti — 20.7 km (12.9 miles)

After several of our people returned from the convent above town, the rest of us climbed to Chiesa San Giovanni and then down the hill toward Cantalice, La Foresta and finally Rieti. We’re staying in a quiet [and maybe embarrassingly posh] hotel on the outskirts of town while we enjoy a well-earned day of rest.

for fun I’ve added up my walking distance this year to date — 836km (520 miles). Remaining distance to Rome is just over 100 km, so I’ll end short of my 1000 km goal due to two missed and a few shortened stages, but I’m feeling a great sense of accomplishment and a kind of physical satisfaction/ecstasy. It’s been a good two months and I’m planning to savor the remaining days.

Poggio Bustone from below. 

Climb every mountain. 

First group arrives at Cantalice. 

View down into Cantalice. 

Denise conquers the umpteenth stairway. 

Il sentiero. 

Every time I see these statues they seem to be singing. 

Leaving Santuario La Foresta. 

Looking toward Rieti. 

St Francis statue at Rieti Cathedral. 

Caught on camera eating watermelon gelato with Mike (photo credit: Mary delRe).

Our Rieti-based travel agent stopped in for a chat and brought some of his son’s pilgrim-themed micro-brew. Note the St Francis beech tree and Santiago scallop shell. 

Tall climb and renewed friendship

Feliciano, center, with Luke and me.

Day seven: Piediluco to Poggio Bustone — 24km (14.9 miles)

Today’s big climb of about 600 meters presented an obstacle that our group handily overcame. We arrived in Poggio Bustone and settled into the new apartments of my friend, Feliciano. His Locanda Francescana is by far the best pilgrim overnight option in this quaint and pretty hill town, and I’m so proud of Feliciano’s efforts to prepare his new rooms to coincide with our arrival here

Seven of our eleven pilgrims opted to walk the whole distance. Left to right: Lisa, Mary, Mike, Mary Ann, Denise, Fiona, Millie. 

Views to the Sacred Valley. 

Photo op at the wooden cross above the St Francis Beech Tree. 

Walking down from the heights. 

Results of recent forest fires near Poggio Bustone. 

Our nervous group encounters a nervous cow. 

On GPS this is what my day looks like. The red line is our intended track as we arrive in Poggio Bustone. Blue is my actual recorded track at our arrival. Our intended distance for the day was 21 km. Actual distance today was 31+. 

Waterfall river lake walk

Mist rises from the falls just after the flood gates are opened.

Day Six: Arrone to Piediluco– 18km (11.2 miles)

The Marmore Waterfall always refreshes me, and today was no different. Our pilgrims started from the bottom, walked up, and then feasted at a friendly and efficient restaurant at the top. Afterward we walked along the river and then the lake before settling into our lakeside hotel near a spot where St Francis preached.

Lovers’ Tunnel is very wet. 

Luke and I pose for the camera. 

View back toward Arrone. 

Walk along the dike. 

Panorama at the lakefront. 

Everything seems better in clean clothes

Derelict church in upper Macenano  

Day five: Ceselli to Arrone — 17 km (10.6 miles)

We walked from our lovely hotel today through Macenano and then out the Nera Valley to Ferentillo and Arrone. Who would ever guess that Arrone’s central piazza would include an ultramodern laundromat? The couple of hours spent cleaning clothes will make life much more pleasant, I’m sure.

Group pic at the start of the day in front of Abbazia San Pietro, our hotel. 

Quiet times for the local Communist Party. 

The Nera Valley. 

Who would guess that this little Italian hill town would have….

…a state of the art laundromat right in the main piazza?