Athletic climb to a holy place

One of the few downhill stretches in this uphill day.

Day Six: Badia Prataglia to Santuario della Verna — 17.3 km (10.8 miles)

A very vertical day. Our group split in two, with four starting partway through and five walking the whole thing. The distance is deceiving — this is one of the very hardest days on any Camino I’ve ever walked. Two major mountains with around 3500 feet elevation gain — but we all did fine. Have now met total of 14 other pilgrims — today five Americans and three Brits.

These are our mountain trails.

Happy uphill pilgrims: Beth, Kim, Donna, Sue.

The view, ten minutes after leaving Rimbocchi.

Our lofty goal: Santuario Della Verna atop Monte Penna.

Gary walking through the fairytale forest.

And suddenly there is a convent atop the mountain.

Four hundred floors and 5000 calories later we arrive in one of Italy’s most holy places.

Restful day in the sacred forest

I declare this to be a Leopard Lizard. OK, it’s actually a Fire Salamander.

Day five: Camaldoli to Badia Prataglia 10.6 km (6.6 miles)

Some thundershowers brought rain and made walking a cool and damp delight. We made an intentionally late start so we could enjoy Camaldoli monastery a little longer, then we trudged up and down through the Sacred Forests to quiet Badia Prataglia. Tomorrow is the big climb to La Verna.

Pilgrim lineup.

This is exactly how today looked.

This too.

We stay overnight tomorrow at the big, squarish mountain in the distance.

Little Badia Prataglia.