Despite it being a short day in km terms, I was up at the crack of dawn to make it to the pass in order to see the sunrise – which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but it never hurts to get an early start on the day. Most of the same folks who were on the PO water taxi are on the the same daily itinerary, so we have a lot of fun despite the language barriers. Today I walked with D from Belgium, and at the top of the pass we decided to follow the alternate route promoted by the Swiss-based via francigena international (not to be confused with the Italian organization which claims to be the official via francigena organization).
Initially this route was great, using ancient paths past historic monasteries and pilgrim ospitals. Our error was at the bottom of the valley, where we persevered with the route when there was an obvious short cut using the road on offer. This section of the route was poorly marked in places, and over grown with bushes, weeds, more than a few brambles and the occasional fallen tree. Very few pelligrini had been on this section, and a machete would have been useful (it was beyond the scope of the hybrid walking pole/machete). If any Pellegrino following me are reading this blog, at the bottom of the hill, I recommend following the road across the bridge rather than following the track that heads off to the right before the bridge.
Needless to say we survived the ordeal unscathed, and enjoyed connecting with the rest of the crew in Pontremoli (the bridge that trembles – hopefully referring to a wooden bridge and not one of the old stone Bridges which adorn the town.) It is quite an amazing town, historically strategic being at the confluence of two rivers, and dominated by an imposing castle… which had dorm rooms for pilgrims. And as the office closed at 6p we were literally handed the keys to the castle. See pic for the view from our dorm.
Daily km: 21.6