Day eighty-one: Montefiascone to Viterbo

After breakfast in the monastery with the other pilgrims, I cheated on the route, skirting the hilltop fortress by way of the road. I’d already clambered up there twice and was quite sure the view would not have changed too much.
The highlight of the day’s walk was a long section of the old Roman via Cassia. Most Roman roads are buried under tarmac, so it was great to be treading on the exact same rocks that Sergeric likely trod on.
It was a short day to Viterbo and at one point I’d considered doing a double day to Vetralla, but I’m not sure I had the energy for 36km. And for that I’m glad, as Viterbo is perhaps my favourite city of the entire journey. Once past the typically gritty entry, the old city is a gem of narrow streets, laneways, random piazzas and unusual architecture. As I arrived at lunchtime, I had time to explore – albeit wearing a backpack – before I could check into the Ostello at the convent. After the usual shower and laundry routine I headed back into the city and wandered randomly through the lanes and alleys until dinner time, exploring the medieval sector and the papal palace, where there is still evidence of the pre-Roman Etruscan fortress.
For dinner I went to a restaurant promoted at the convent, and just after I ordered three Swiss girls turned up so we sat together. We’d been at the Montefiascone Ostello together, and they arrived at the Viterbo convent just as I was heading into town. It turns out that this was their last day – they are all doctors who met at med school and ate taking a break before starting their internships.

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