Monday, 10 September 2007

Day 59 - Bolsena - Viterbo - 35km

Another good day. The sun is up, the tracks are clearly signed and we successfully amend one section to avoid an unnecessary climb. We are in good spirits and all goes well without hitch until the local VF-signers and our AIVF guide seem to have mutually agreed to leave us in the lurch. Paul and I find ourselves in a familiar piece of woodland where dim memories of getting horribly lost last year lurk in the shadows. Without signs our only option is to use these and find a way out, which surprisingly enough we do.

Next we travel along the old via Cassia, the original, clearly visible and highly evocative Roman road that took our predecessors to Rome, though with a great deal more hardship - no showers, beer stops or vast pizzas for those pilgrims. I do my best to imagine their privations and sensations as we bole along, but have great difficulty.
Just a few kilometres before Viterbo, we pass the mineral pools we saw last year, but had been unable to enjoy because there was nowhere shady to tether Lubie. This year we hope to try again, but this time it is the dog rule that confounds us, plus the fact that I do not have a swimming costume on and the pools are crowded with bathers.

Last year Viterbo was a black spot for us because we spent many hot kilometres getting lost round a military airport, and then had to skirt the centre via a number of frightening junctions and flyovers. This year everything is easy. We avoid the airport, we only see the flyover in the distance and discover that the ancient centre is really quite pleasant. And, guess what? It's party time again, this time in the form of a huge medieval pageant involving a sumptuous display of costumes and crowds of people quite simply enjoying themselves. Paul and I enjoy ourselves for as long as I can bear it, but then retire at some ridiculous time like 8.30 because I am even more tired than usual, though the day has not been exceptionally hard.

We had hoped to try out the hostel in Viterbo - Instituto Adoratici Sangue de Cristo - but having located it we find a rusted gate and grimy windows and no one home. I guess it has fallen into disuse. We thankfully meet the usual DOODAH block at a posh hotel in the old town and as a consequence stumble on the eccentric Albergo Roma which welcomes us and Vasco at a fraction of the cost.

On our way here we passed through the 100 km mark - that is 100 km from Rome. This falls in Montefiascone, a small town that we failed to appreciate last year and the frenetic traffic even on a Sunday morning has done nothing to improve our view.
100 km prompts thoughts that the end is in sight. This is always a time of mixed emotions. I think we are both (or all 3) inveterate nomads and the idea of stopping and returning to "normality" has an odd feel. We also know that the last 100 km will be tough in a different kind of way - our constant challenge will be to find ways to avoid the growing pressures of road traffic, the warmth of the welcome that we have found in the countryside will fade under the influence of the big city and Rome is quite clearly a bastion of DOODAH. On the upside we have our family and friends to return to and an even longer list of new projects that we (she) has conjured up over the last 2 months.

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