Days fifty-six & -seven: Fiorenzuola to Fornovo via Costa Mezzana

I’m slacking off and taking a bi-daily approach to today’s post. Last night I stayed in an off itinerary hostel, but there were three other pelligrini and we were all native English speakers and therefore writing stuff took a back seat to talking about stuff.
It was a pleasant day walking from Fiorezuola to Fidenza, on paper a short day of about 23 km across the last of the flat lands before heading up into the hills. Of course this also meant that I arrived in Fidenza slap bang in the middle of the daily siesta. I had hoped to get to the Fidenza tourist office as it is also the headquarters of the Italian via francigena association, but I was 20 minutes too slow. Plan B was to find a restaurant offering a fixed price lunch menu, but it seems that all these were finished (there were plenty of busy restaurants, but they had erased their blackboard menus.) Plan C was activated as I didn’t want to hang around for two hours waiting for the Ostellos to open, so I walked out of town to the next hostel – not even in a village, just a church and hostel in the countryside. However there was no sign of life, nor instructions, and no reply to the phone,so I sat in the shade and formulated plan D.

Using Google maps, I figured it was about 9 km to the next village with a hostel. I phoned ahead and I’m pretty sure the guy at the other end said “come on down” or words to that effect. Although it made the day’s total 35km, it reduced Sunday’s tally to 23. This last section was the first first into the hills, and the village of Costa Mezzana is perched on a ridge looking back over the PO river plains. There was a wedding at the church so it was a hive of activity. Those not at the wedding seemed to be at the bar, which is where I met up with the Canadian/German girl I’d met back in Piancenza, and a couple of English/Canadians who were now living in Verona, and who do a section of the VF periodically. We patronized the bar/trattoria for drinks and dinner, as there were no alternatives, and being very pilgrim friendly, they even opened early on Sunday to give us breakfast!
Today – writing this on Sunday from the hill just above Fornovo – was a pleasant, though at times strenuous, hike up and over a series of ridges and descents into valleys. As it was very sunny and not a puff of wind, I was glad to be doing it on fresh legs.
Fornovo was as sleepy as you’d expect a small town to be, although I was surprised that the local supermarket was open, and therefore happy to support its economic well-being. I had been dawdling all morning knowing that it doesn’t take long to walk 23km, even if the terrain requires adfitional effort. I stopped for a prolonged coffee break in the first town and watched a gathering of men playing a card game – but they weren’t using a regular pack of cards, so I’m curious to know what it was. Of course, I didn’t want to appear too curious in case it was the local gambling operation!
Fornovo has only one small Ostello, who didn’t answer their phone (as it is likely run by the local parish, this was not too surprising on a Sunday). However, for its location I only had the street name, and after walking the length of said street, the location remained a secret. The local tourist office had lots of Camino related material in their window, but nothing which would disclose the whereabouts of the Ostello. So a quick search of found me a reasonably priced b&b in an old farmhouse on the hill above the town. Apparently two cyclists biking the VF are arriving later, so the hostess asked if I wanted to partake of the dinner she is preparing at their request. How could I say no to a home cooked Italian dinner (especially as the alternative would be to walk the 2km back into town)?
Fornovo is also a milestone – I decided that Fornovo is far enougho for my old boots, so they found a scenic resting place near the river. After about 1,400 Camino kms they don’t owe me anything, and I kept using them for the past week or so as they were great on the paved roads as all the tread had worn off (like runners racing flats!) Heading up the trails to the Cisa Pass the new boots will be much better suited to the terrain. I kept the laces to maybe use as a belt. For some reason my long pants seem to have stretched and no longer stay up of their own accord.
Today’s pics: Fidenza Cathedral; one of the many gates to nowhere; a view looking back towards Fidenza: an monument to the Italian Navy for WW2 (so far from the ocean it must almost be in the geographic centre of Italy).
Daily km: 35 + 23

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