Climbing through olive orchards to scenic Trevi

This afternoon I walked mostly with Millie, Fiona, Mary and Mike.

Day two: Spello to Trevi: 20.3 km (12.8 miles)

The weather could not be better — clear skies with cool temps. A coffee stop in Foligno was our first stop, followed by a long, gradual climb, followed by a short steep climb to Trevi. Our group arrived between 2:30 and 4:30 in good spirits.

Our group at the start of the day.

This morning I walked mostly with Grady.

Believe it or not sometimes I get requests from other pilgrims for photos with me, as guidebook author. This is Angelica from Trieste, Germany.

Another fan — Manileo.

Not a fan. Not sure if this honky goose was upset we disturbed her, was asking for a handout, or was asking the date and time of Christmas dinner.

No photo can capture the full beauty of ¬†Trevi’s majestic setting.

Leading a fun and happy new group to Rome

Pilgrims, from left: Grady, Danielle, Fiona, Lynn, Mary, Mary Ann, Lisa, Denise, Millie, Mary, Mike.

Day one: Assisi to Spello — 13km (8.3 miles)

As we began our day, our group took a quick stroll through the historic Basilica di San Francesco. We headed to Basilica Santa Chiara and then left town, traversing Monte Subasio, to lovely Spello.

Two weeks ago our prior group met Elizabeth, an Austrian pilgrim. Today we saw her here in Assisi, finishing her walk.

Mike and Mary leaving Basilica Santa Chiara.

Example of our trail.

Another example.

This little fellow accompanied us for about five kilometers.

Group climb.

And behold, Spello

“The First Day of Pain”

20130515-134902.jpg

Today’s second chocolate croissant.

May 14, 2013 — Assisi to Spello

To me, a chocolate croissant is the perfect food to start a day of hiking — buttery-sweet calories with a chocolate center. Knowing that we had a 700 meter climb followed by a 900 meter descent ahead of us, I ordered two¬†— guilt-free at breakfast, plus an orange juice and two coffees. I’d need all the energy I could get for this walk through the mountains above Assisi to the town of Spello.

Jacqueline and Sebastian ambled down to the cafe below our hotel at about 7:30, and after their breakfast and a few words with some French pilgrims we headed out at about 8:00 under a blue Assisi sky.

The blue and yellow waymarks led us up above town, so soon we were looking down on the ancient fortress that looms over Assisi. We realized that today’s route would lead us through the forested mountains above the town, likely giving us many vistas of the flat, green valley below.

20130515-140545.jpg

Looking across to the fortress above Assisi

And so, we started walking up. Up through pine forests, up through thick brush, up past woodsmen with chainsaws. Up, up, up. An hour later we were certain we’d reached the top, then it was down a little ways and up, up again. I led the way at first, Jacqueline unusually slow, but when we finally reached the top, Jacqueline took the lead in the more difficult downhills. Most of the path was single track on sharp gravel, but some was also on the asphalt pavement of several remote, mountain roads. To our right were continuous views of the vast valley far below.

Video of the view from our hike to Spello

At about noon, tired from the climbs and descents, we stopped for lunch at a small picnic area off the trail. Last night we’d bought some cheese, crackers and cherry tomatoes and we feasted on these as we rested our weary feet. Here we were passed by a local Assisi couple out for a few days’ hike. Then the trail led steeply down the mountain through olive orchards, finally meandering to the hill town of Spello.

20130515-142322.jpg

Looking down on the hill town of Spello, today’s goal

We weren’t certain if we’d stay in Spello or head the extra 7km to Foligno, but when we found the Albergo Il Cacciatore, with its lovely terrace and views of the valley, our evening plans were set. A beer, laundry, showers and a big spaghetti dinner would be perfect for these tired pilgrims. As Sebastian summarized the day over an afternoon beer, “Today was our first day of pain.” But what a lovely, painful day it was.

Postscript: we walked down through town in the afternoon to do laundry at the automat and get groceries for tomorrow. Then it was a tasty dinner of pasta with wild asparagus and chicken in a white wine sauce. Off to bed then, with dreams of a short walk on flat ground tomorrow.