I wrote the entire post, but the world’s most highly regarded blog site is not designed to auto save, so once again I am spending my evening rewriting a post because the developers at wordpress are inept, and the site routinely loses a work in progress. Seriously pathetic.
Other than blog site woes, the final day into Rome was nasty. The first section was through the gritty outer suburbs along the via cassia during rush hour, and even where there was a sidewalk it was in such disrepair that it was safer to walk on the road. After a quick coffee stop at the last bar before off-roading (identified thanks to google maps) it was a trek through a “natural reserve” – a curious wasteland that seems to have avoided development but far from a beautiful park that the name implies. Next was a trek through the gritty inner suburbs before emerging into a second “natural reserve”, a vast improvement over the first version with a great wide pathway that lead down from the heights. Sadly it was not designed for walking, with the gnarliest lumps of rocks set in concrete. Mostly I walked in the much smoother gutter! There was a great view from the top of St Peter’s and other parts of Rome peeking through the smoggy haze. Unfortunately the lookout is also a popular spot for those who enjoy their views with alcohol and cigarettes, and who think it ok to leave broken glass and garbage in the view’s foreground. Sadly littering seems to be socially acceptable in Italy, and illegal dumping a national pastime.
The location of St Peter’s square became obvious as I approached due to the wall of tourists surging towards me. There was no finishing line or fanfare: I was just another tourist only differentiated by a bigger backpack and a much better tan. Even the issuing of the Testimonium – the paper acknowledging your pilgrimage – was done in a matter of fact way. At least in Santiago de Compostela you are asked questions and your name, in Latin, is enscribed on the document. Currently my Testimonium has the name field blank!
By the numbers:
86 days (76 walking, 10 rest days)
2057 km (141 by bike, 1916 by foot. Walking daily average 27km)
London weight 84kg (185lb), Rome weight 77kg (170lb). However I do not recommend the via francigena as a weight loss program!