We have completed our first two days of walking our pilgrimage to Rome with the Gruppo di Dei Dodici. The Gruppo is an all-volunteer group devoted to maintaining, developing and promoting the southern branch of the Via Francigena, of which the better-known part stretches from Canterbury to Rome. This section goes both ways from Rome to Brindisi, from where pilgrims could cross the Mediterranean to reach Jerusalem, or travel from the south of Italy to Rome, as we are doing now.
Our first day from Teano involved a very long climb during the first half of the day, then at least one very steep descent and ascent at the end of the day. I was overjoyed when we reached the lovely town of Sessa, only to grow weary as we passed through the town, climbing higher still and then winding down for another kilometer to the Convent of Caterina Volpicelli on the outskirts. That was truly the longest mile.
During the day we stopped briefly to rest and eat sandwiches on park benches in lovely old villages.
Last night we returned to Sessa where we witnessed a moving Good Friday procession.
After spending Monday exploring Pompeii along with thousands of other visitors, including energetic busloads of students, Tuesday exploring numerous churches and nooks and crannies of the Centro Storico and attending a fabulous opening night performance of Madama Butterfly at the Teatro San Carlo, and Wednesday morning walking along the rather unremarkable waterfront to Mergellina, we were met at the train station Formia-Gaeta on Wednesday afternoon.
There we were greeted by Giuseppe, Maurzio, Paolo, and several other members of our group, including Ned and Donna from Albuquerque, Silva and Terje from Norway, and Herta from Germany.
After a bit of a drive to Teano, a stop at an ATM machine and a phone store, we ended up in the country at Agritorismo Farm Mattera di Valle., with a view to Teano on its hill in the distance.
Kent and I were given a very chilly large room with a large bed. Later we all gathered for a huge Italian dinner, beginning with antipasto, then pasta, then meat and potato, followed by cake and grappa. We begin walking on the Morning of April 18. “On the 18th of April in ‘75/ hardly a man is now alive/ who remembers that fateful day and year/ of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”
April 18, Sessa
It looks like nights 2 and 3 with no wifi, unless we make a long trek uphill into town. So I will just keep writing, hoping that one of these days we will have wifi, and I can publish.
We have finished our first day of walking, through some beautiful countryside and lovely old towns. However, we were promised this would be a short, easy day. It was not. Fourteen easy kilometers—should not be hard. Right? Wrong. We made some steep, long climbs up in the first two hours before lunch, and several more ups and downs and then a Long walk through this lovely hill town, without much chance to see anything.
We are now returned from a lovely dinner in the town, and it is too late to keep writing. We will be back here again tomorrow. Good news is finally having a wifi connection. Bad news is it works only in a chilly front lobby. Good news is we’ve had the best shower here we’ve had since leaving home.
I’ll try to write more tomorrow, after our Good Friday walk.