About SandyBrown

Pilgrim trek writer and guide.

Join us in 2020 to walk some of Europe’s great pilgrim treks

Two months ago I sent in my retirement letter, packed up my office, and set out to live my dream — to make a full-time job of pilgrimage walking. As you may know, since 2008 I’ve been captivated by the great pilgrim trails of Europe, walking over 7500 kilometers (4600 miles) during my limited annual vacation time. While walking, I’ve always kept an eye on how I could share these walks with other people, so I began by blogging here at http://www.caminoist.org, then I moved on to writing guidebooks, and then in 2016 I started my travel company, Pilgrim Paths. Just then, work intervened again and I agreed to return to my first career, allowing me to squeeze out just 2 itineraries during a 2017 leave of absence.

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Luke and I, posing in the mist at Cascata delle Marmore on the Via di Francesco.

Now, my retirement frees me to do pilgrim walking full-time. My 32-year old son, Luke Brown, a musician and experienced pilgrim in his own right, has agreed to give part of his year to the effort as well. So in 2020 we’ll lead groups together on three of the great pilgrim trails of Europe and next year Luke and I will both lead groups separately, expanding opportunities for people who’d like to join in high-quality pilgrim walking.

What makes our offerings different? First, instead of leaving it to chance, we gather groups of people to walk together. Ask any pilgrim, they’ll tell you that conversation is one of the best parts of pilgrim walking. Second, we take care of the arrangements, including baggage service and all translations. It’s more fun to walk when you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to sleep at night. Finally, we know the routes — literally, we wrote the book on them. We can point out to you that special fresco, that hidden treasure that otherwise might be missed. This all combines to make these the most rewarding and interesting pilgrim treks available. Here’s where we’re going in 2020:

03.Florence-AssisiFlorence to Assisi on the Via di Francesco, June 6-21, 2020 — After enjoying the capital of the Renaissance, figuratively step back in time to ancient forests and monasteries of the Middle Ages. The beautiful Casentino National Forest is the beginning and the hometown of St Francis is the end. In between is Santuario della Verna atop Mount Penna, one of Italy’s most beloved holy places. Day 1 Gather in Florence • Day 2 to Pontassieve • Day 3 to Consuma • Day 4 to Stia • Day 5 to Camaldoli • Day 6 to Santicchio • Day 7 to Santuario della Verna • Day 8 to Pieve Santo Stefano • Day 9 to La Montagna • Day 10 to Citerna • Day 11 to Cittá di Castello • Day 12 to Pietralunga • Day 13 to Gubbio • Day 14 to Biscina • Day 15 to Valfabbrica • Day 16 to Assisi • Day 17 depart Assisi (from €3,280 ppdo, €600 single supplement, 174 miles in 15 days).

Assisi-RomeAssisi to Rome on the Via di Francesco, May 9-23, Sept 21-Oct 5, Oct 6-20, 2020 — Walk among vineyards and olive groves through the region that St Francis loved, stopping at key sites in his life. Visit the thundering waters of the largest human-made waterfall and then arrive at the incomparable Eternal City of Rome. Day 1 gather in Assisi • Day 2 to Spello • Day 3 to Trevi • Day 4 to Spoleto • Day 5 to Macenano • Day 6 to Arrone • Day 7 to Piediluco • Day 8 to Poggio Bustone • Day 9 to Rieti • Day 10 to Poggio San Lorenzo • Day 11 to Ponticelli • Day 12 to Monterotondo • Day 13 to Monte Sacro • Day 14 to Rome • Day 15 Depart Rome. (from €2,870 ppdo, €550 single supplement, 132 miles in 13 days).

04.Camino SantiagoPamplona to Burgos on the Camino de Santiago, May 25-June 4, 2020 — While the entire Camino de Santiago can require 5-6 weeks to complete, we offer a 1/3 portion of the walk in 10-day sections each year, making it possible to complete the Camino in 3 years. This year we lead participants in perhaps the loveliest stretch of the Camino – from world famous Pamplona passing among quaint villages to Burgos, the gem of Castile with its World Heritage cathedral. Day 1 overnight Pamplona • Day 2 to Puente la Reina • Day 3 to Estella • Day 4 to Los Arcos • Day 5 to Logroño • Day 6 to Nájera • Day 7 to Santo Domingo de la Calzada • Day 8 to Belorado • Day 9 to Agés • Day 10 to Burgos • Day 11 Depart Burgos (from €2,050 ppdo, €500 single supplement, 136 miles in 9 days).

05.Via FrancigenaCrossing the Alps on the Via Francigena, September 6-19, 2020 — Spanning 1800 kilometers between Canterbury and Rome, the Via Francigena is a World Heritage pilgrim walk. The most challenging and beautiful section is its transit of the Alps at the Great St Bernard Pass between Switzerland and Italy. This unforgettable Alpine walk features snow-capped mountain peaks, towering waterfalls and majestic forests. Day 1 Gather Lausanne • Day 2 to Vevey • Day 3 to Aigle • Day 4 to St Maurice • Day 5 to Martigny • Day 6 to Orsieres • Day 7 to Bourg St Pierre • Day 8 Summit the Alps at Col St Bernard • Day 9 Echennevoz • Day 10 Aosta • Day 11 Chatillon • Day 12 Ponte-Saint-Martin • Day 13 Ivrea • Day 14 Depart Ivrea (from €3,165 ppdo, €700 single supplement, 164 miles in 12 days).

I hope you’ll explore our exciting pilgrimage opportunities and make your reservation to join us! Buon cammino!

Introducing: A new Stage 1 for the Way of St Francis

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The Region of Tuscany’s new network of St Francis trails.

Back in 2014 when I was researching the first edition of The Way of St Francis guidebook I was faced with a challenge. Since the Tuscan portion of the walk was not yet officially recognized by the Regione Toscana I would have to rely on other guidebook writers for the route. That worked for all the stages to Santuario della Verna, where the official Umbrian route begins, but there was a problem with the other guidebooks: they didn’t have a way to walk out of Florence. The most popular guidebook recommended taking a train to nearby Sant’Ellero, a 20km ride from central Florence, and beginning the walk there.

To me it doesn’t seem right to start a walking pilgrimage with a train ride, and that’s what my friend, Jacqueline Ziendlinger felt, too. She had already translated one of the German guidebooks for me and was determined to find a good way out of Florence, so the two of us walked various trails around the Renaissance capital looking for a good route. Finally, I shared the problem with Salvatore Accardi, pilgrim travel expert in Rieti, and he passed on his own solution. I included that in the book as Stage 1 — Florence to Pontassieve — and was proud (thanks to Salvatore) to write the first guidebook that led pilgrims on foot all the way from Florence to Assisi and Rome.

Five years later the Regione Toscana has finally adopted the Way of St Francis as an official, Tuscan pilgrim route. They now actually have FIVE routes to La Verna, including two from Florence. Best of all, they’ve approved a brand new walk from Florence to Pontassieve as the first stage of one of their routes, a stage that lines up exactly with the itinerary of my book and the Dutch and German books. Last month I had the opportunity to walk the path and it’s an improvement, saving a total of 4 kilometers and avoiding a few of the annoying hills of the original route. The walk was pioneered by Leonardo Cortese of Pontassieve, who should get credit for creating a great new route for pilgrims. I had the pleasure of staying overnight at his place in Pontassieve, Leonardo’s Rooms, which I highly recommend for pilgrims. I’ve included a slight variation of it as my new Stage 1 route for my book’s 2019 reprinting.

Revised Stage 1 Profile

Profile of the new Stage 1 route. Now only one hill of 100m height.

The new stage begins at Basilica Santa Croce as did the old, but turns south immediately and for the next 7km follows the Lungarno — the riverside bicycle and pedestrian track that now will carry pilgrims all the way to San Jacopo al Girone.

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The now-official Stage 1 route follows the north bank of the Arno River to San Jacopo al Girone.

From there it heads up the hill and momentarily touches the old route, comes back to Compiobbi where it rejoins the river, heads to Sieci as before, then follows a gravel road and path alongside the railroad tracks right into central Pontassieve. Total distance is only 18.9km and, for all but 150m, the track is free from highway shoulder-walking.

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After Sieci the new route follows the railroad tracks instead of heading up toward San Martino.

There is one drawback. The old route has some amazing views back to Florence, which now are replaced with constant views of the Arno, which is not a terrible tradeoff. The primary advantages other than distance are that there is less walking on pavement and far fewer hills.

If all goes as planned, next spring the Regione Toscana will way mark the route for walkers. Over the next few days I’ll update the full set of 2019 GPX tracks so all of this year’s pilgrims can enjoy this new and improved exit from Florence. Meantime, tracks for the new stage can be found on Wikiloc here.

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Walking along the Arno River on the new Stage 1 of the Via di Francesco outside Florence.

Way of St Francis: Road closed after Monterotondo, here is the temporary alternate

Update: Our thanks to local volunteers who’ve found a much easier alternate. As you approach the gate after the olive oil factory, checked to see if it is locked. If it’s locked, turn off onto a path on the right that allows you to bypass the gate. This alternative has been cleared with the neighbors and property owners, so you’re free to use it with a clear conscience.

The following alternative is retained here in case there is any problem with the work-around above.

I’m sad to report that Way of St Francis neighbors in the Valle Ricca and Tor San Giovanni neighborhoods have locked the gate to the private road on their property, making access to Monte Sacro and Rome much more difficult for pilgrims leaving Monterotondo (Stage 26, Way of St Francis). The gate is locked just after the olive oil plant. A big thanks to Gigi Bettin and volunteers in the Lazio region for finding a temporary alternative that adds only 1.7km to the day’s walk.

The GPX tracks for this alternate can be downloaded from Wikiloc at this link.

Here are directions:

At the end of Via Sant’Angelo (guidebook p. 249) turn left as directed and begin walking along the field with a house and tall, bamboo hedge on your right. Instead of turning right as directed in the book, turn left and (thanks to the kindness of the property owner) follow the edge of the crops, soon coming alongside a ditch. A two-track farm road soon picks up and then becomes a gravel road that ends abruptly at a wood, the Trentani Park. Turn right and continue uphill. Follow this 500m to the first right and in a few meters cross the Via Cesa di Loreto and go straight in a neighborhood of small olive groves and farms. Take the first right (on the paved Via Selva Dei Cavalleri) and then the second left (onto the Via di Quatro Conca). Turn right before the gate of the Villa Sesterzi and follow this road past the back side of the La Cerquetta agriturismo. Continue on past the end of the pavement and cross the wide field on a faint track, aiming at the farmhouse and outbuildings. You are now in the Marcigliana Preserve. Pick up the farm’s driveway, continuing west, until it ends. Turn left and find yourself on the original track.

This is what it looks like from the satellite:

Monterotondo-Alternate-Way-St-Francis

The original track after Monterotondo is in green; the temporary alternate is in blue.

 

Guidebook updates will be loaded when a permanent alternative track has been set. Thanks for your patience! -SB

Great fun on a new/old project – the Camino De Santiago

You may have noticed that caminoist.org has been quiet the last several months. There’s a good reason — I’ve been immersed in a time-consuming pilgrim project, a new guidebook on the Camino Francés route of the Camino de Santiago.

Wait, another guidebook on the Camino, you ask? In reality this is not a new guidebook, I should say. One of the first guidebooks on the Camino was authored by the esteemed Alison Raju and published by Cicerone Press many years ago. What I’m doing is renewing and re-invisioning Alison’s work in a new format and for a new day by the same publisher. I was approached in Jan 2018 by Joe Williams and Jonathan Williams of Cicerone who recognized it was past time for a refresher on Alison’s work. They wanted the project to look and feel different than other camino guidebooks and proposed this formula:

  • Excellent, well-researched text;
  • Fabulous photography;
  • Coverage of Saint-Jean to Santiago and also Finisterre/Muxía;
  • Outstanding maps in an accompanying map booklet; and
  • An excellent smartphone app that coordinated with the print set but could be used on its own.

Tower of the Irache Monastery outside Estella, Spain

In short, they wanted to put together the best guidebook/map/app set on the market today. How could I say “no” to a goal like that?

I began researching the route — which I’d already walked twice — looking for the best print materials to form the historical core of the project. I read important documents like the Codex Calixtinus, the original guidebook from 900 years ago, and local histories of Galicia. I read art history books and Spanish history texts. Then I planned my trip.

Theresa and I took off for a five week walking camino last July/August and just had an absolute blast together. She’s such a great walker and explorer and so much fun to be with 24/7. Including 2014’s Way of St Francis project, this was her second time walking with me while I was researching, writing, snapping photos and recording GPS tracks. We walked the entire route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Finisterre and Muxía, biking the Meseta to save time.

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Barca, Muxía, Spain.

After the walk the work began. I sat down with notes, tracks and photos and began the work of putting them all together into an excellent guidebook. Cicerone knew I’d need help, so they stepped forward to purchase great photos from Seattle friend Rod Hoekstra, provided seasoned help for optional camino paths from Cicerone author Mike Wells, and then brought onboard my sister-collaborator, Roxanne Brown Nieblas, to put together the accommodations database that is the heart of any great camino guidebook. Jonathan Williams himself walked parts of the path and sent in his photos, too. Last January I traveled to the UK to meet the Cicerone team and compare our notes and expectations. Finally at the end of last month, after many weeks of every-spare-non-work-minute devoted to the project, I pressed “Send” and entrusted the manuscript and materials to Cicerone for creation of what I know will be a beautiful, elegant and extremely helpful new guidebook.

As their work of editing and producing the book begins my work takes a new turn. This summer I’ll return to Spain and bike the Way, draft guidebook in hand, and check out every detail for accuracy and clarity. At the same time I’ll enter information into the database that forms the core of the smartphone app that’s part of the package. I believe what purchasers will get, once it’s all done in January 2020, is a state-of-the-art guidebook that offers more and better information than anything else out there. Through it all I came to a renewed appreciation for the Camino Francés which is unlike anything else out there and really is a must for any walking pilgrim. I hope readers will see my love of this amazing walk through each page.

Recent pilgrims are happy to see that the Cathedral de Santiago’s façade is restored to its original lustre.

I’d never taken the extra time to see this pilgrim statue until this year. There’s Theresa!

No better place to stay in Burgos than Mesón del Cid hotel. Here’s the view at night.

View from the overlook at Grañon, one of my favorite pics.

Some pilgrims wander into a wedding scene. Taken from another great pilgrim hotel – the Parador in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

This little valley is one of the most-photographed landscapes on the Camino.

Theresa leading the way in La Rioja on our way to Viana and Logroño.

That’s Theresa, standing in awe in front of the retablo of the Navarette church.

The herald blows a trumpet to the world to let them know how glorious is his town, Pamplona.

Just in: 2018 Updates to the Way of St Francis guidebook

Dear friends,

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The Way of St Francis guidebook has been a big success, launched into its Second Printing in only 18 months. As with any pilgrim route, changes on the ground require constant updates so that walkers have the most accurate and current information. In September and October 2017 I walked the entire route and was able to verify existing info while discovering some changes of which pilgrims should be aware. Hence the comprehensive updates below.

Many of the edits also come thanks to those who’ve shared their comments and ideas with me over the last years since the book’s original publication. Each of the suggestions has helped to make a better end result and for this help I am extremely grateful.

Check the comprehensive lodging list for complete and current information on lodging contacts.

The GPX tracks for the stage have also been carefully edited and updated. Please make certain to use the tracks files marked “2018” when you download them from Cicerone Press.

The Via di Francesco/Way of St Francis is a wonderful pilgrimage walk for those looking to be immersed in nature, Italian culture and cuisine, and some of Italy’s most amazing historical sites. Enjoy!

– Sandy Brown

Key: All text in black updates the 2015 printing. These updates are already included in the 2017 printing. Text in red updates both the 2015 and 2017 printing. Green text updates the 2017 printing.

Introduction

The Modern Way of St Francis

  • The Di Qui Passo San Francesco has recently merged with the Via di Francesco and has been retired as an official route. However, some markings still remain on the trail.

Getting There

  • Perugia/Assisi/San Francesco Airport (PEG) – Now serves London (Stansted), Catania, Bucharest, Tirana, Trapani, Brussels (Charleroi) and Munich.

Getting Around

  • Train – Train service is also available at Marmore (Stage 21).

Pilgrim credential and testimonium

  • Delete former credential instructions –

Go to the website: http://www.piccolaccoglienzagubbio.it and download the credential application form. Fill it out and either send the completed form via email to credenzialedelpellegrino@gmail.com or by mail to:

Piccola Accoglienza Gubbio
via Baldassini 22
06024 Gubbio PG, Italia

This wonderful service is run by volunteers, who send credentials out each week. Make sure to show your address exactly as it should appear to be correctly mailed by your national postal service. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

It is also possible to secure a credential in person at the Pilgrim Office adjacent to the Lower Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi. By the time of publication credentials should be available at St James Episcopal Church in Florence (Via Rucellai 9, 055 294417).

  • Minimum mileage – 100km is the minimum walking distance required to receive a testimonium in Assisi or Rome.

 Maps, GPS and Waymarking

  • Delete OpenCycleMaps download – Open Street Maps can easily be downloaded into excellent hiking apps like Galileo Pro on your smartphone. When shopping for a GPS app, make sure to find one that allows downloadable maps so that it is not necessary to be connected to a cell service while hiking.

 Accommodation

  • Hostels – Pilgrim hostels usually offer blankets and pillows. Plan to bring a sleeping bag liner and hiking towel since linens are rarely offered.

Business Hours and the Riposo

  • Riposo – In small towns and villages this can make it a challenge to find groceries on Sunday mornings, so be certain to plan ahead.

When to Go

  • Climate – July 1 through August 15 are historically the hottest weeks of the year and are best avoided unless you’re ready for very hot temperatures.

(New Section) Water Fountains

  • Only occasionally are there water fountains in the middle of a stage and when there are, they are seldom marked for drinkability. Our maps show locations of water fountains that are confirmed as potable, but carrying a 2-liter water supply in fall and spring and a 3-liter supply in the summer is recommended.

Training

  • The often steep hills will challenge anyone who hasn’t trained adequately in advance, though most anyone will find themselves stronger and more fit after walking several days.

Discovering Florence

  • Basilica Santa Croce – Cost of admission to Basilica Santa Croce is now € The credential stamp of the Basilica Santa Croce is available at the Franciscan bookshop inside the basilica, just off the right side of the nave near the sacristy. The basilica opens at 10:00 each day and is sometimes closed for holidays.

 Stage 1 – Florence to Pontassieve

Stage 2 – Pontassieve to Consuma

  • Difficulty – Replace “Moderate” with “Hard.”
  • Forest logging – Use of GPS is important in this section due to recent logging on the forest trails.
  • Consuma – Cammere Carletti has new contact information: http://www.affitticonsuma.it, tel 346 7916151, irina.consuma@yahoo.com, €30 per person, including breakfast. The rooms are about 0.5 km from the heart of town and Irina or another staff member will happily drive tired pilgrims. The kitchens are not available for pilgrim use, but the restaurant serves an ample menu.
  • Corrected info – Email for Hotel Miramonti is info@hotelmiramonti-ar.com. 45/65 Euro price includes breakfast. Dinner and sack lunch are available.

Stage 3 – Consuma to Stia

  • Difficulty – Replace “Hard” with “Moderate.”
  • Distance – Replace 17km with 16.5km
  • General Description – Delete phrases “A couple of very steep climbs make this a difficult walk, but otherwise this is…” and retain “A long, downhill hike on forested mountain paths and quiet farm roads. Leave early to enjoy the delightful town of Stia on the banks of the Arno.”
  • Stia – The new phone number for Albergo Falterona is 0575 583545.
  • Updated route and GPX tracks – Local stewards have redirected the original route from Campolombardo into Stia. In the paragraph beginning “In a couple of hundred meters…” delete everything from “After a creek crossing on stones….” until “The lane quickly arrives in the heart of Stia’s Centro Storico with Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta, as well as restaurants, shops, bars and hotel Albergo Falterona. Insert these paragraphs:

“After a creek crossing on stones, take the wide gravel road to the left, following it for 500m until it reaches small farms and then another 600m as it becomes a paved road. Views to the left include the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie built in 1432 to mark an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Continue on this road, the Strada Comunale di Sassi Bianchi, turning left at the first intersection. Continue on this quiet country road, now the Via Londa, walking its switchbacks downhill.

At a bridge with low stone walls cross the headwaters of the Arno River. At the stop sign turn right onto a paved, two lane road. Continue on past the furniture factory and just after the Via Dante Alighieri/Castello Porciano signs on the left, turn right at the “Firenze 49” sign onto the Via della Campo Sportivo for a 400m shortcut down to a soccer field at the valley floor. At the far end of the field and before the parking lot turn left following the sign marked “Centro Storico” up a stairway and along a covered alley to the picturesque town square of Stia. Here you’ll find many of the town’s shops, bars and restaurants as well as the Santa Maria Assunta church, where today’s stage ends.”

  • Laundry – A coin-operated launderette is three blocks past Fattoria La Foresta on the right.

Stage 4 – Stia to Camaldoli

  • Variant – Watch out for the variant at the Giogo Secchieta 76 trailhead (Paragraph beginning “In 100m come to an asphalt road….”) that directs you to Camaldoli Monastery. Although the track will allow you to reach the Monastery it does so by sacrificing a visit to the Camaldoli Hermitage.
  • Correction – In paragraph that begins “The trail goes steeply upward….” Delete the final sentence “In this area watch also for signs…..”

Stage 5 – Camaldoli to Badia Prataglia

  • General Description – This section of the Sacre Foreste is notoriously bereft of way marks. Look carefully for red/white CAI markings to lead the way.

Stage 6 – Badia Prataglia to Santuario della Verna

  • Santicchio – An overnight at the Mountain Retreat Casa Santicchio (www.santicchio.org, tel. 0575 1787586, info@santicchio.org, 40-55€ includes sheets, towels, breakfast and dinner. Wine extra.), allows the option of shortening this stage by lengthening the prior very short stage from Camaldoli and walking through Badia Prataglia to Santicchio. After Frassineta and just 100m before the summit at Poggio della Forca turn right on 070A instead of turning left to Rimbocchi. Follow the path about 700m to Casa Santicchio.
  • Santuario della Verna – Twelve beds are available in the pilgrim dormitory at Santuario della Verna. The beds are by donation, but a cost of €25 covers dinner and breakfast. Ask at the reception desk for towels. No bed linens are available.

Stage 7 – Santuario della Verna to Pieve Santo Stefano

  • Additional lodging option — Check also Camping La Civetta (Via la Civetta 11, 338 4689145, info@lacivetta.it) with its beds in bungalows and tents. Linens available. Cooking possible, breakfast by request.

Stage 8 – Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro

  • Trail revision and revised GPX tracks – A logging operation in late 2014 has almost completely obscured the trail described in the guidebook. However there is a nearby variant that works fine. In the paragraph that begins “The road turns to gravel…” delete the directions from the end of the sentence that begins“Follow this straight…. “ all the way to the end of the paragraph. Replace it with:

At the first freeway underpass, cross beneath and head up the driveway to a house and outbuildings. Walk past the house and continue on through the gate. Soon the two-track road passes a clear-cut section of the forest and becomes a single-track pathway. When it reaches the gravel road, turn left.

  • Montedoglio Bridge to Levee Road  — Local owners have closed off the path through their private property, so it is important to note this change. Starting with the paragraph that begins, “Turn right here…” through the next paragraph up to the start of the sentence: “Now you are atop the levee (bank)….,” insert this text:

“Turn right here and continue 400m to the concrete bridge across an arm of the Lago Montedoglio reservoir (10.5km). Cross the bridge and continue on the quiet country road, disregarding the markings that have you turn off the road. After  2.9km come to an intersection with the SP 47 road. Turn left and follow the road downhill into the tiny village of Motina. Take the first left at the charming stone building toward Le Vignacce and then take the first right, noting the CAI marker and arrows on the utility pole next to the gravel road.” Now you are atop a Levee…..

  • Montecasale – While this guide recommends an alternate path rather than the more difficult, official route from Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro, the official route is definitely an option. Follow the main road south out of Pieve Santo Stefano (with the freeway on your right) and follow the signs to a left turn. This leads to a lovely series of paths that take you to Cerbaiolo and, after about 25km, to the ample accommodation at the Eremo Montecasale. This key Franciscan site on the official route receives over 5000 pilgrims each year. The hostel closed in late 2016, so there is currently no overnight option in Montecasale.
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  • Important sightseeing tip – The town’s Palazzo della Residenza (via Aggiunti 65, http://www.museocivicosansepolcro.it, contains one of the great frescoes of the Renaissance, Resurrection by Piero della Francesca, painted in the 1460’s.
  • Sansepolcro – A new pilgrim hostel, Accoglienza a Sansepolcro, welcomes guests at Il Convento dell Suore Olivetane (Via Ricci, 339 6856139, dfr.ricci@gmail.com, €15, by reservation only)

Stage 9 – Sansepolcro to Citerna

  • Additional Citerna lodging – Agriturismo Draghi is located 3km away in Monterchi, but can pick up pilgrims with in Citerna. Corrected phone is Agriturismo Draghi is 339 3959147 With a true pilgrim welcome is Tao B&B (Loacalità le Pietre 97, 331 7431965, bbtao.citerna@gmail.com, €20/30, 2km from Citerna but 100m off the trail).

Stage 10 – Citerna to Città di Castello

  • Change to Note – Agriturismo Le Burgne offers breakfast to pilgrims, but otherwise food is not available between Citerna and Città di Castello.
  • Le Burgne corrected contact info – 329 0192923, info@agriturismoleburgne.it.
  • Lerchi – Please note the dangers involved if you choose to take the road from Lerchi directly into Città di Castello. Cars travel at better than 70 km/hr in this section and there is no sidewalk or path on either side of the road most of the way. If the day has been too long, the bus is a much safer choice.
  • Lodging addition – Santa Cecilia monastery of the Clarisse sisters has rooms by donation (Via della Fraternita 1, 075 8553066, clarissesantacecilia@alice.it).

Stage 11 – Citta di Castello to Pietralunga

  • Candeggio contact info – camminodipace@gmail.com. Cost is 15 Euros per person with 10 Euro dinner available.
  • Pieve di Saddi – Contact info change: phone is 329 5620677
  • Il Pioppa Casa – Provides dinner upon request.
  • Correction – Pieve di Saddi is misplaced on the Città di Castello to Pietralunga map (p. 117). Please note the correct placement in the image below.

3.PievediSaddi

Stage 12 – Pietralunga to Gubbio

  • Loreto – Hostel available (Loreto parish hostel, Località Loreto, 346 0899676, luca.cencetti@hotmail.com. Donation. Kitchen available.)
  • Gubbio – Admission to the Palazzo dei Consoli museum is €
  • Gubbio – The correct email address of the Convento di San Secondo is biblioteca.steuco@libero.it.
  • Gubbio – If you have additional time in Gubbio, the local diocese has created a 90-minute mini-camino inside the city that has a credential, completion certificate and free Tau cross at the conclusion. The walk takes you from San Vittorina (the wolf church) up to the top of the hill at the Basilica di San Ubaldo. For more information or to order online go to http://www.fratellolupogubbio.it or simply pick up the booklet at the Tourist Information Office (car park cash desk) on Via della Repubblica near the San Francesco church.
  • Gubbio accommodation – Gubbio is served by the pilgrim accommodation line (tel 366 1118386 piccolaccoglienzagubbio@gmail.com) whose volunteers send out Via di Francesco credentials and also help pilgrims find lodging in Gubbio. There are no fewer than nine parochial hostels that offer pilgrim lodging, including Instituto Maestre Pier Filippini (Corso Garibaldi 100, tel 075 9273768, maestrepiefgubbio@virgilio.it, donation), Convento di Sant’Ubaldo (Via Monte Ingino 5, tel 075 9273872, stefanobocciolesi@liber.it, Donation) and Convento di San Secondo (Via Madonna del Ponte 4, tel 075 9273869). Among the hotel options are Grotta dell’Angelo Hotel (Via Gioia 47, tel 075 9271747, info@grottadellangelo.it, from €36/52 plus €6 for breakfast), Hotel Gattapone (Via Beni 11, tel 075 9272489, info@hotelgattapone.net, €50/60), just off Piazza San Giovanni. Look also for Residenza di via Dante (Via Dante 32, tel 075 7772674, info@residenzaviadante.it, €25/80.

Stage 13 – Gubbio to Biscina

  • New accommodation option before Tenuta di Biscina – The hermit at San Pietro in Vigneto is gone and in his place at the 15th century hermitage is a pilgrim hostel (sanpietroinvigneto@gmail.com, kitchen available, no food, please make a donation to help out this new pilgrim ministry).
  • Agriturismo Sosta San Francesco – Is two km off the trail on the main Gubbio/Assisi highway.

Stage 14 – Biscina to Valfabbrica

  • Entry to Valfabbrica: Though it is not called out on the map and not mentioned in the directions you will walk under a significant landmark — new highway bridge — as you enter Valfabbrica, just before crossing over the Chiascio River bridge.

Stage 15 – Valfabbrica to Assisi

  • Assisi – The annual Marcia della Pace (Peace Walk) occurs in the last week of September, culminating on 4 October for the Festa di San Francesco. Assisi bustles with noisy tourists and pilgrims during the festivities and hotel reservations are scarce. If you travel in late September or early October be certain to book your lodging well in advance since St. Francis day each 4 October bustles with pilgrims.
  • Pilgrim office information – The pilgrim office is open in the summer from 10:00 – 1:00 and 3:30 – 5:30, depending on volunteer schedules. The Pilgrim Mass takes place each evening at 6:00 and includes prayers for those who have registered as leaving or arriving at the pilgrim office in Assisi.
  • Assisi Pilgrim Hostel – Is located at Via degli Episcopi 1, 3450 343171, http://www.confraternitadisanjacopo.it, by donation, open April through October)
  • Additional Assisi Accommodation – American Rebecca Winke welcomes pilgrims at her Brigolante Guest Apartments (Vicolo della Fortezza 2A, tel 331 2222349, info@brigolante.com, €75/90 for 1-4 guests).

Stage 16 – Assisi to Spello

  • Additional accommodations – In Urbe apartments (Via Giulia 97, 0742 301145, info@inurbe.it, €75 double), Franciscan missionary sisters at Convento Piccolo San Damiano (Via Fonte Vecchia 22 tel 0742 651182).
  • Email for Monastero di Santa Chiara is santachiara.cnn@gmail.com and phone is 0742 78613.
  • Delete — Hotel del Prato Paolucci
  • Corrected contact information – Convento Santa maria Maddalena is tel0742 302259, address is Via Cavour 1.

Stage 17 – Spello to Trevi

  • Foligno – Additional accommodation option is Afittacamere Rosella (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 123, tel 740 72340, €15, kitchen available).
  • Additional accommodation in Trevi — La Casareccia pizzeria has rooms in the summer (tel 0742-780994, closed Mondays), and in the Piazza del Municipio the Residence Sant’Emiliano has double and triple rooms. Ask for pilgrim prices (residences.emiliano@libero.it, tel 348 2285443).

Stage 18 – Trevi to Spoleto

  • Correction: Delete the following sentence in this paragraph is incorrect so please ignore the direction to turn left: ‘At the peach-colored house in 300m, follow the road downhill and to the right in the direction of the Spoleto road sign. At the next fork, turn left. Soon the road comes to another fork, with yellow arrows pointing downhill onto the Via Don Sturzo. Instead, turn left in the direction of the cafe/bar.’
  • Detour due to ongoing construction – Since construction south of Fonti del Clitunno is ongoing it is safer for pilgrims to plan to detour earlier to the bicycle path. There are two options for getting to the bike path, the second of which allows a stop at the beautiful Fonti del Clitunno (and its services).
    • First alternative for reaching the bicycle path – After this paragraph: ‘At the peach-colored house…. ’ follow these directions: “Follow the road in front of the café/bar straight as it gradually leads downhill. Stay on this road, the Via Corciano, without deviation past the iron cross, with the stone wall on your left side, until it ends at the bottom of the hill in about 1.1km. The road ends at short wall at a T-junction with a busier road below. Go right to get around the low wall and then make an immediate left onto this two-lane arterial road. In just 50m is a road turning off to the right. Follow this road downhill, noting the bike path marked on the right. Continue on this road over the two highway bridges and a third bridge with a stone wall on the left. Immediately after the third bridge turn left onto the Assisi-Spoleto bike path, which you will follow all the way to the outskirts of Spoleto.”TreviExitOption
    • Second alternative for reaching the bike path: A little further on, after these directions: “Go straight ahead on the wide shoulder of Viale Settecamini until Il Camminetto Ristorante, where a bike path commences on the left side of the road” follow these directions: “Look for the traffic light after the restaurant with signs pointing right to Rome, Terni and Spoleto. Turn right onto this road and carefully walk along the shoulder. Cross a railroad bridge and go around the roundabout, which crosses over the freeway, then continue across the Marroggia Creek on a third bridge. Immediately after this third bridge, turn left onto the paved bike path, which you follow to the outskirts of Spoleto”RevisedSpoleto
  • Revised entry to Spoleto from the bike path – This new information removes the last hazardous stretch from the highway (and replaces the text in the guide from ‘Turn off the bike path’ to ‘on Via Flaminia.’
    • Cross the bridge to continue on the bike path. In 1.7km the path crosses the canal next to an auto bridge and then circles back under the bridge to continue on the right side of the canal. In about 1.2km the path ends at the Bici Grill restaurant (closed Mondays). Go through the parking lot and pick up a continuation of the bike path, now painted red/orange asphalt. The path follows under the freeway overpass, crosses the road and continues between concrete curbs on the opposite side. In 100m when the path branches to the right and left pick up the left branch next to the wall and follow that branch as it hugs the wall, passing sports fields on the right. Curve right with the path onto Via Lorenzo Betti and in about two blocks veer left onto the main arterial, the Via del Risorgimento. In one block, turn left, leaving the suburb of San Nicolo and entering Spoleto proper and in just one half block turn right onto Via Giordano Bruno, catching sidewalks where they are available for the next three blocks. At the end of the street, veer toward the left onto the Via dei Filosofi, and follow it as it crosses the Via dei Mestieri at a roundabout and gradually heads back alongside the canal. For the next 400m the road follows the canal with an ample sidewalk on the left. Across are a series of shopping centers, including two supermarkets and a pharmacy. Just after the EuroSpin Supermarket the car road divides. Follow the direction of the cars going ahead toward town onto a narrow, two lane, one-way street. Go straight toward the low, church tower and in one long block turn left. Walk two blocks and turn right, entering the city gates of Spoleto at Piazza Garibaldi.SpoletoEntry
  • New GPX track – Please make certain to download and use the revised GPX track entitled “18.TrevitoSpoleto2015”
  • Spoleto lodging – Hotel Aurora is closed. B&B Villa Massaccesi (Via XVII Settembre 11, tel 0743 48015, info@villamassaccesi.it) offers a 10% pilgrim discount and use of the kitchen. Check for pilgrim prices at the Casa Religiosa di Ospitalita San Ponziano (via della Basilica di San Salvatore 2, tel 0743 225288, info@sanponziano.it. http://www.sanponziano.it) and at Ostello Villa Redenta (Via di Villa Redenta 1, tel 0743 224936, info@villaredenta.com, €20/40).

Stage 19 – Spoleto to Ceselli

  • Closure of Ponte delli Torre Bridge – (Note: The bridge was temporarily closed on 25 August 2016 for seismic studies. Check with the Tourist Office to confirm the bridge will be open the day of your walk. If it is closed, walk around to the opposite side via historic Basilica San Pietro.)
  • Casa Vacanze Il Ruscello – New phone number is 340 2296792. Pilgrims indicate the use of kitchen is no longer allowed.
  • Ceselli hostel contact – Lina at 339 2428928 or Catia at 333 8430385.
  • Ceselli Community Center – Unlike in the photograph, this center has now been enclosed with windows and doors.

Stage 21 – Arrone to Piediluco

  • Cascata delle Marmore – Due to a landslide the path to the upper falls is closed, requiring instead to enter the falls via the more scenic but unmarked lower entry to Marmore Falls. (Take the unmarked part just after the green gate and follow it to the right. Cross a field and parking lot to reach the lower ticket office). After viewing the falls, head through the collection of restaurants, across the double bridge over the falls channel, through the kiosks and out the upper auto entrance to the park.
  • Lodging at Cascata delle Marmore – Lodging available at Il Casolare della Cascata, SS Valnerina 209 tel 0744 62362, info@ilcasolaredellacascata.com, €25 per person
  • New Entry to Piediluco – Thanks to guardians of the Via di Francesco a new route between Marmore and Piediluco limits the amount of time on the highway to only 350m (replaces the text from ‘For the next half hour’ to ‘the long, narrow town.’)
    • Carefully follow the main highway toward the left and, in about 350m, turn left after a white stucco and stone house onto a broken asphalt road that leads slowly uphill. Following the signs, in 300m turn right at a fork onto a two track, white gravel driveway which you follow until it ends at a gate marked “27 Via Ponte del Prato.” Now turn right onto a dirt road and immediately take the fork to the right. The track quickly narrows to a footpath and begins to climb more steeply until the trail ends at a gravel road. Turn right and immediately come to complex intersection of roads and paths. Looking to your left, take the dirt track that is just to the right of the two power poles. This pleasant path undulates gradually upward, and views of Piediluco and its lake soon open to the right. Soon you come to the red brick and concrete walls of the town’s cemetery. Turn right at the end of the cemetery wall, crossing through trees, and go left on the asphalt road. Follow this road downward and toward to the right as it becomes the Via del Rio Cervaro. At the bottom of the hill turn right and go under the highway bridge, following the road. Walk around a field, past a wastewater treatment plant, football field and parking lot and at the stop sign turn left onto the main road of the long, narrow town of Piediluco.
  • New GPX track – Make certain to download and use the GPX track for this stage labeled “21.ArronetoPiediluco2015.”

Stage 22 – Piediluco to Poggio Bustone

  • Labro – New accommodation right in charming Labro is available at Albergo Diffuso Crispolti (www.albergodiffusocrispolti.com, Via Vittorio Emanuele 16, tel 0746 636135, info@albergodiffusocrispolti.com)
  • Add the italicized words to the section after Labro – “Continue 400m beyond the bar to the Carabinieri and come to a fork in the asphalt road. Take the footpath in the middle of the fork going uphill. A steep climb now begins. Turn right at the fork in 300m, right again onto the asphalt road with a fence, and soon turn right again onto an asphalt road that you follow for the next 400m. Watch for a waymark that directs you left off the asphalt road onto a gravel road going steeply uphill.”
  • Steep shortcut from Faggio San Francesco – Insert this paragraph before the paragraph beginning “After a rest, take the road left…”If you’re not afraid of steep trails, a shortcut to Poggio Bustone lies here at the chapel. Cross to the bottom of the cow pasture behind the chapel to the fire pit where you’ll see a CAI marker reading “Poggio Bustone.” Follow this trail downhill on a steep bank to a gravel road      below. Turn right on the gravel road and follow it to the marker for the CAI 419 trail. Turn left on the trail and proceed as described below.
  • Easier route that avoids the cross-country track – In the paragraph beginning “After a rest, take the road left…” insert this additional sentence at the end of the paragraph:You may also turn right and follow the paved road for a somewhat longer but less slippery alternative.
  • New approach to Poggio Bustone – In order to add detail to the entry to Poggio Bustone, here is a fuller route description (replacing the text from “Soon the CAI markers’ to ‘Municipio of Poggio Bustone.’)
    • Soon the CAI markers suggest turning off the road onto a narrow path. Do not take the path, which leads only onto an overgrown and impassable trail: instead stay on the road and follow it as it merges with the Via della Casetta, a paved road that joins from the left. Continue downhill 800m to the stop sign, which is at the Via Francescana. While a left turn takes you directly to the Franciscan Sanctuary above town, turn right and then immediately take a left onto Via San Marco to reach the heart of the village. Now in Poggio Bustone proper, follow the broken asphalt among closely spaced houses downhill. At the dark stone pavers, make a hard right, continuing steeply downhill. The road curves to the left, then makes a hard left. Make a hard right toward the yellow building, stepping onto a broken asphalt road with the yellow building on your left. Just after the building you see it houses the town’s pharmacy, just opposite the main square. Go left toward the overlook and, if you are staying at Locanda Francescana, look for its restaurant – Restaurant Francescana – several doors downhill to the right.
  • New GPX track – Be certain to use and download the revised GPX track labeled “22.PiedilucotoPoggioBustone2015.”
  • New Poggio Bustone Accommodation – At the bottom of the village, Hotel Villa Tizzi (Via Villa Tizzi 4, 0746 688956, info@villatizzi.it, €50/70 includes breakfast) has beautiful views of the valley.

Stage 23 – Poggio Bustone to Rieti

  • La Foresta accommodation – (The sanctuary has five bedrooms for pilgrims tel 0746 200727 by donation. Delete prior contact info. At 500m after the gates is Le Querce di Tara, via Foresta 37, 348 4273023 mauro.rinaldi@over-service.it, €15 per person).
  • Rieti – B&B La Terrazza Fiorita is in the heart of Rieti and its owner, Ritta, knows the Via di Francesco, Via di Roma and Rieti very well (ViaPellicceria 3, tel 347 7279591, rietidascoprire@vocafone.it , €25, breakfast by request). Centro Spiritualità Madre Cabrini offers rooms (Via S Francesca Cabrini 5, tel 746200727, villacabrini@virgilio.it, pilgrim prices).

Stage 24 – Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo

  • Poggio San Lorenzo – Additional accommodation at Collina Sacro Cuore. When turning off the path onto the final stretch of asphalt before Poggio San Lorenzo, turn left and follow the signs of the Via di Roma. After about 300m toward the town of Torricella in Sabina you reach the modern convent building of the sisters of the Order of Ancelle Sacro Cuore di Gesu who have who may have beds available (Loc. Faloni, tel 765 735017, ancellescuore@libero.it, €40 incl breakfast and dinner. By reservation only).
  • Poggio San Lorenzo – A new accommodation, La Sosta del Pellegrino, is now available in the heart of Poggio San Lorenzo (Via Quinzia 28, Francesco tel 3921 445940 or Rosaria 3336 359291, info@camminidellarte.it, €15).
  • New stage ending – is now at Poggio San Lorenzo Piazza rather than Agriturismo Santa Giusta.
  • PoggioSanLorenzo

Stage 25 – Poggio San Lorenzo to Ponticelli

  • Revision to Notes – Strikeout former paragraph and replace with “Rolling hills with steep but brief ascents make this a deceptively challenging stage.”
  • New accommodation in Monteleone – (B&B Santa Vittoria (Via Mutuesca 181, tel 347 5988875, b.b-santavittoria@libero.it)
  • Ponticelli – A new agriturismo offers accommodation just before Ponticelli. Giuseppe welcomes you at Casale delle Stelle (Via XX Settembre 16, http://www.casaledellestelle.it, 3382 261916, settimi@hotmail.it, from €59 for a double room. Breakfast, dinner and laundry are available).
  • Additional phone number for Ponticelli hostel – call Daniela at 347 3120149.

Stage 26 – Ponticelli to Monterotondo

  • Montelibretti – Lodging is available near Montelibretti at Agriturismo Villa Le Mimose (www.villalemimose.com, tel 0774 631054, €35 per person), about 1km off the track before the climb into town. Also right in the heart of Montelibretti is B&B I Due Gelsi (via Garibaldi 23, tel 3476 412908, €30, incl breakfast).
  • Monterotondo: New accommodation listing: The Parish of Santa Maria Maddalena (Monterotondo Duomo) has 5-6 beds available for pilgrims. (Piazza di Giovanni Paolo II, parrocchia@duomosantamariamaddalena.it, tel 0690 626060, by donation)

 

Stage 27 – Monterotondo to Monte Sacro

  • Water tower — is at 16.9 km from start of stage.
  • Correct street name in Monte Sacro – replace “Via Nomentana” with “Corso Sempione.”MonteSacro
  • Monte Sacro – Not to be confused with the pensione of nearly the same name, the B&B Citta Giardino offers an alternative and convenient overnight, just two blocks off the Via Adriatica and seven blocks from the end of the stage (Via Moncenisio 45, http://www.cittagiardino.com, tel 3355 637986, info@cittagiardino.com, €50/70 single incl breakfast). Delete Minerva Casa Vacanze. Add the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Piazza Vulture 15, tel 068 293786, €35) and Casa Per Ferie Santa Rita (Via Nomentana 514, tel 068 6800016) are both options. See also B&B Happy Goose (Via Forzano 20, tel 347 7697735, info@bnbhappygoose.it, €20/25 pilgrim price).

Stage 28 – Monte Sacro to Vaticano

  • Milvian Bridge info – site of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. Because of a dream the night before the battle, Constantine fought under the Christian banner and his victory the next day is marked as the beginning of Christianity’s acceptance as the official religion of the Roman Empire.Vaticano
  • Alternate Route to Vatican – beginning at the “giant red geometric sculpture” It’s possible here to leave the official route and opt for a more urban (and interesting) itinerary. Go straight here and in one block turn left onto the Via Flaminia, which you follow 1.5km to the imposing city gate just before Piazza del Popolo. Pass through the gate and immediately look to your left for Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo, home to works by Raphael, Bernini, Caravaggio, Bramante and others. Continue diagonally through the piazza, veering right on Via Ripeta, which you follow 1.1km during which it becomes Via della Scrofa. Turn right onto Via Sant’Agostino, passing Piazza Sant’Agostino on the right. In just two blocks you see the entrance to Piazza Navona with its Fountain of the Rivers by Bernini. Keep the entrance to your left and continue straight instead as the road narrows to become Via dei Coronari, a delightfully authentic Renaissance lane named for the rosary bead makers (corone in Italian) who labored here. Follow Via dei Coronari 450m until its end, cross Via di Panico and then take the first right onto Via del Banco di Santo Spirito. Just a block ahead is the beautiful Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge with its angelic sculptures. Cross the bridge toward Castel Sant’ Angelo, turn left and you see St. Peter’s Basilica straight ahead.
  • Pilgrim Office off St. Peter’s Square – It is no longer necessary to pass through the guards in order to secure your Testimonium. Instead, look for the Opera Romanum Peregrinorum among the storefronts at the last building on the left before the grand colonnade. Present your credential there for a Testimonium. If the office is closed or is out of blank Testimonia you can also receive a handwritten Testimonium at the Sacristy in St. Peter’s Basilica. Use your pilgrim credential as your entry pass. The Sacristy is usually closed for riposo between 1:00 and 4:00.

 

Wrap-up from Rome after 973 km of pilgrim trails

On the final full day in Rome after 973 km (605 miles) on the Via Francigena and Via di Francesco.

It’s such a funny thing to walk for a few weeks then wake up one day and realize the walking is all done. That’s how I’m feeling this morning as I finish breakfast on the day after my summer of walking is over.

What a summer. I set out on August 3 from Lausanne, Switzerland and walked over the Great St Bernard Pass into Italy, finishing in Piacenza after 478 kilometers over mountains and through rice fields. I’m still convinced it was the long days and hot temperatures that caused me to get sick in Piacenza. I then flew home for a hectic few days of moving household items in preparation for the sale of our Seattle home.

On September 1 I was back in Italy with Luke to lead our first tour group. With eight wonderful folk Luke drove our Sherpa van and I walked from Florence to Assisi, retracing for the first time my book research walk from 2014.

Then on September 19 Luke and I greeted our next eleven pilgrims and walked with them from Assisi to Rome.

Though I skipped two stages due to another illness, with the many extra kilometers of pilgrim herding the total distance clocked from Florence to Rome was 495 km.

The biggest blessing of the time was my month working closely with Luke. Since he grew up and moved out on his own we haven’t had anything like this intense time together. For 32 days, both of us working from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. we’ve laughed and hugged and strategized and overcome. Luke is a great young man and was a real hit with our pilgrims, who all love him to pieces — but none love him more than me.

As for me, I’ve lost about 15 pounds with all this walking. My feet are in great shape thanks to HikeGoo and surgical tape. I have a massive farmer’s tan. And according to my FitBit my resting heart rate is down about 17 bpm. I shaved my head in August in Aosta and I miss my hair. I used 12 gigabytes of data on my iPhone 6, and found Galileo Pro and WhatsApp to be invaluable aids. My Italian is becoming stronger, though no one is mistaking me for a native, and most of all I’m missing Theresa and home.

Tomorrow I speak at a conference near Assisi and then, due to flight schedules, I am in Italy until Sunday evening. That night I fly to London Gatwick, stay in a tiny Japanese style airport hotel, and then fly home to Seattle, Theresa, friends, cats, church, new home and the joys of the familiar, where I’ll begin to plan the next walking adventure.

Here are some of my favorite photos from these seven weeks of walking.

Roads Go Ever On

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

—J.R.R. Tolkien

From the castle on down

Note the nifty blue guidebook in the pilgtim’s hand

Day eleven: Ponticelli (Nerola) to Monterotondo — 32 km (19.9 miles)

We left the castle this morning at 9:00 and reconnected with the trail. I’d set the stage end at Montelibretti, though my book carries the stage another 17 km, ending at Monterotondo. Four of our group opted to go the full distance with me, while seven were picked up by Luke in the van at Montelibretti. Tomorrow I’ll return to Montelibretti with the Seven and walk again to Monterotondo.

The scenery is changing noticeably as mountains are turning to vast fields of wheat as the Tiber River Valley expands as it nears the sea.

For several km we followed signs to Alesansro’s birthday party. We hope it was fun!

Pilgrim walking.

This fountain always looked like a cradle to me.

Ponies.

Sheep. We like sheep.

Effects of Lover’s Tunnel still going strong.

The flower tower.

We arrived in Monterotondo just in time to enjoy a street fair.