Yesterday morning just four of us, set off from Victoria Domus B&B high on a hill on the outskirts of Priverno. The remaining two German walkers were returning home, and Torill and Herta were suffering injuries. Ned, Kent, Sylva and I, under Giuseppe’s careful leadership, descended to the edge of Priverno, getting a good look at the hill-top city as we walked. Giuseppe pointed to hills in the distance. “That’s where we’re going. There will be a 4 km climb.” One of the hills was topped by tall antennas.
The day was hot, and we stopped in the shade of trees and walls now and then. Giuseppe pointed out his home high on an olive covered slope. We followed small roads along canals lined with yellow and purple flowers.
Eventually, after quite a climb on roads we embarked on a path that grew increasingly steep and rough. Then we came to another road, a descent and then another path up, this one not so long, but steeper and tougher, with views out over flat agricultural land that had been reclaimed from marshland. a stumble here could have sent one rolling over limestone rocks and scrubby brush with little to stop one for a very long way.
A cool breeze on the high slopes mitigated the heat, but the air remained too misty to see the sea and distant islands. It was not long after our picnic lunch that we scrambled up one more rough track to find ourselves at the edge of Sezze and just a few houses along the road at the most delightful B &B of the trip.
Kent and I retreated to our room and after showering pulled a comforter over us and fell asleep for at least 3 hours. There was no wifi, so I had no distractions.
That evening our hostess Alma prepared a wonderful dinner of lentil soup, veal cutlet, mounds of artichokes braised in olive oil, a delicious green salad and delicious strawberry shortcake for dessert.
I had no trouble sleeping another 8 hours that night.
Well rested, we set out from Sezze this morning, with several new Italians accompanying us, under the leadership of Giancarlo. After a brief stop to buy sandwiches for lunch, and a tour of the local archaeological museum where we were offered cakes and sodas, we exited the charming medieval town and climbed ever upward.
Eventually we reached tracks through meadows with grazing cows, more mountain road, and then a lovely track that led through trees — some of the most untouched vegetation we have seen on this route. We also encountered a few other pilgrims today, all heading south from Rome.
As we neared the top of one long ascent, “Salida!” Giancarlo encouraged me, as I was, as usual the slowest one on the ascents. Then one more climb and we heard shouts of “Restaurante!” And there amidst a flock of goats we found picnic tables where we had our lunch.
Down again, we could see another hill town — Sermonetta— with a castle and swarms of tourists. We also encountered a group of 5 walkers, heading south, but apparently not taking our mountain paths. A welcome stop for beer, but I was dismayed to learn we still had a long 4-5 km and 2-21/2 hours yet to go to this abbey outside of town in lower Norma.
We could see it in the distance from the second of two wildly overgrown, steep, rocky descents we made this afternoon.
It seemed we’d never get here, but after many ups and downs we were here sometime after 4 pm. Made our beds, showered, and will rest until supper at 7:45 pm.
For more on this walk see my video on the Via Francigena del Sud on YouTube