Sun , rain , mud and trespassing.  Day 1 on the #viafrancigena

Left Fidenza at 7am …first paying a visit to the Cathedral where the swifts were dive bombing the statues in the warm morning light.

The reason ? there’s a statue of St Peter with a scroll pointing the way to Rome. 

not pointing well enough as it turned out cos I headed down several dead ends before I found the right road 
The heat is manageable then but by 10 it’s starting to build uncomfortably .

But…a third of the way into my planned 30km I “chanced ” upon a bar serving a cold Moretti at 10 am.run by Oliver who is a Templario..giving help and protection to pilgrims on the road to Rome..

After that it kind of went downhil…l though sadly not literally.

I congratulated myself on missing the first electrical storm and torrential downpour by sitting it out in a church porch 

But there were so many I couldn’t avoid them. 

At one point things were so bad with lightning strikes all around me I vaulted a garden fence and took shelter under the verandah I what I assume is an expensive (empty ) holiday home 
Every  time I crept  out from under shelter it started again…

Apparently there are two seasons when people walk the VF. spring when you might get rain…or summer when it gets very hot.
What I appear to have done in my own inimacble way is to have stumbled on an unhappy medium…I’m getting heat,  rain and mud. Lots of mud.  In Italy.  In the summer.

Seriously though… #viafrancigena

I blame Sigeric.  Or Sigeric the Serious to give him his full title.

If he hadn’t walked this way in 990 AD and assiduously documented his route then I wouldn’t be sitting here, sweating in a Pizzeria contemplating a hike across the Appenines in serious heat.

Siggy , as I shall now call him,  was Archbishop of Canterbury and walked all the way to Rome to receive his Pallium (archbishop- related clothing) from the Pope. 

He wasn’t the first to come this way but he was the first to accurately document the route…which became known as the Frankish Way or Via Francigena.

No way was I going to start from Canterbury…and a friend advised me to avoid the mosquitoes of the Po Valley. Good advice as it turned out…based on the back of shoulders of Richard…another English pilgrim I’ve left behind in the hostel nursing insect bites that have all but turned him into a living relief map of  the moon.

So, right now I’m drinking beer and munching pizza in what I suspect will become a familiar routine over the coming month.

I don’t often moan 🙂 ..but just to say I have a terrible summer cold…and I start walking in the mountains tomorrow. ..