The short climb back up to the Torre di Papi was almost the only climb we made today.
The rest of the day was a slow steady downhill run across ancient Roman pavement and modern cinder farm tracks.
We ran into Victoria and Margarite who were on day 1 of their renewed March to Rome. These two friends have done pieces of the walk for several years.
We also crossed paths again with Tobin (Canada) and Raphael (Baltimore) but spent little time with either as one was speeding on and the other taking a slower approach.
The weather warmed a little and we were soon in shorts again.
Other than the beautiful scenery, the highlight of the day was passing another hot springs resort.
It was nice to take advantage of the free entry for pilgrims. The hot springs were relaxing even if the method of changing into our bathing gear I.e. our underwear was less than private. Me holding up a towel for Allison was the best we could do. As usual…no one cared.
As we were leaving Elana was arriving and we gave her the lay of the land so-to-speak. There were 4 pools (puddles number B1-B4). B1 was cold but the other three warm and only varied in size and shape. Sorry. No pictures were allowed.
After our luxury experience, we continued our journey into town. As we entered Viterbo we were hungry for lunch and there w as a Burger King right across the street. The temptation was too great and the enjoyed some fast food for the first time in about 3 months. It was less than inspiring I’m happy to say.
Viterbo was founded by the Etruscans but is know as the city of Popes. Remembering that in one period of history the Pope was more than a spiritual leader but also reigned over a country of his own “The Papal States”, it is not surprising that he would have a palace and a fortified one at that. In fact, it was here that in 1145 the first conclave was held to elect the new Pope. A fun fact is that they took so long (3 years) that the citizens revolted and literally locked the cardinals up, giving them only bread and water in order to “nudge them along”. It was in 1266 that the Pallazo (Palace) was built.
Now I tell you all this cool history and I have to admit that we had a chance to visit the palace and chose not to. We got there and there was some cool architectural outside and the open church. After that we just both yawned and decided to head back for supper. Honestly we’re a bit tour-ed out.
Instead we strolled through the medieval streets instead and found some cool things. We popped into an open church just to look. It was the Church of Gonfalone – never heard of it – us either. But inside we found an amazing ceiling. It’s the kind of place that, as an engineer, bends the mind. I studied the ceiling for about 15min and I honestly can’t tell you if it is flat, domed, or vaulted. The painted scene is a master work of illusion.
We also found a cool medieval street with a crazy suspended arch.
Our night ended with a stop at the grocery store for tonight’s dinner supplements and lunch supplies. On the way out we were stopped by a Nigerian man. He asked if we were English and he seemed relieved to have someone to talk to. He was from Nigeria and worked until recently. He isn’t too happy about the Italians (he doesn’t feel accepted). He hopes to get to the USA some day because “there, anyone who wants to work can make a living”. The American dream is alive friends. Honestly, I hope he finds his way there. If we had our packs with us he’d have received a key.
We decided to eat in at the convent. They have a small kitchen and we have a package of risotto that we’ve carried for about 10 days. There we met two engineering students from Myanmar an d a high school student from the area. We were also served by our host. She was one of the kindest loving souls we’ve met on this trip. For her gentle heart and attention she got a key. I told her the story of the key and although she was already familiar with it I think she loved that she heard it from me. Hugs followed.
Tomorrow is yet another short day. A pilgrim could get used to this.