So today was interesting.
We started the day, up at 5:30am and we were on the street after breakfast by 7:00am, so no speed records were in danger. But we were off and soon out of the city of Siena.
Early on we passed a sight I did not expect to see. We’ve seen a lot of cool animals on this hike but I never thought I would see a camel. But sure enough, across the street was a small pen with three camels. It had some llamas as well and some donkeys and horses. Upon investigation, it was a small circus from Vienna parked for the night. It makes sense now, but I just never thought this is what the day would bring.
The countryside was kinder and gently rolled although the Via actually went primarily downhill all day.
The pointy cypress trees and the rolling hills reminded me of the closing scene from the movie Gladiator, and well it should because it was filmed here. The actual spot is tomorrow I believe, but it makes no difference.
The overcast sky and cool air made it really feel like autumn. The air was cooler than it has been in weeks and when the wind blew or when we stopped for lunch we both got chilled.
Since it had rained last night there were a few puddles but the trail was mostly dry. Mostly dry that is until we hit this one stretch (about 1km long) thick with mud. It wasn’t the deep sloppy mud of the Somme but rather a drier sticky mud that attached to your shoes like glue and went along for a ride for a while.
It was actually kind of funny. One second you’d lift your foot and it felt heavy. The next few steps added to the effect and you felt as if you were lifting weights with each step. As I put my foot down it felt like I was wearing 3” heals and 2” lifts. Then in a stride a huge chunk of mud would fall off and your leg would fly up or you’d come back down off of your heels unexpectedly. Of course this never happened to both feet simultaneously so one leg was always longer than the other. I’m sure we looked a sight walking in that section.
Later while we were eating lunch, we were passed first by a young couple Paulo and Martina and later by another couple. This second couple were waking three days from Monteriggione to Pont d’Arbia. They seemed to enjoy the short vacation and had a camper waiting for them in Siena.
Paulo and Martina were camping at nights and they seemed to be going faster and farther than we were. So, after a brief chat, we said ciao and I fully expected that we wouldn’t meet again.
After they both passed I looked down at my shoes….folks it’s going to be “touch and go” if they make it or not.
When we arrived at our Ostello, billed as “The cultural center”, but containing very little in terms of high culture, the place was under construction and the door was locked. “Not too worry”, I’d heard that it did open until 3pm and it was only 1:30. So we headed for a nearby coffee shop.
There before the shop was the other couple waiting for their bus back to Siena. At the coffee shop we were surprised to see Paulo and Martina. They’d stopped for a break before heading on.
Allison and I got our drinks and made a couple lodging inquiries. It’s a tedious process of looking through several lists and extracting phone numbers or email addresses and sending out queries. We were able to get the nights of the 8th and 9th booked and our final night in Rome near the airport as well.
Paulo and Martina meanwhile packed up and said goodbye when Martina mentioned some foot trouble (blisters). Well immediately Allison perked up and minutes later had all her supplies out and was busy tending to Martina’s feet.
It was really neat to see how efficiently Allison “went to work” and kindly Martina and Paulo responded.
When Allison was nearly done, the waitress came from the restaurant with a cut finger. Although it wasn’t too serious, you could tell then girl was a little freaked out by the blood. She asked if Allison would take a look at it. Without hesitation, Allison was tending to the cut as well. She was definitely in her element.
We finished our evening with a short walk back to the donativo before going out for pilgrim pizza at the shop across the street.
I’ll close out today’s entry but sharing this “fun fact” that we calculated today.