Monday, 10 September 2007

Day 60 - Viterbo - Vico Matrino - 37km

Another good and relatively Via Cassia free day. Our route is created from a mixture of AIVF, local VF signage and some masterful GPS work from Paul - of which more later. Having found our way out of Viterbo, using the fastest and least convoluted route possible, but nevertheless involving a degree of traffic dodging which will be unpleasant for riders, cyclists and walkers, we spend a fair amount of time and kilometres on pleasant minor roads.
After this, most of the route is off-road until we reach Vetralla and have a lunch break. Here the VF signers have a minor crisis and the signs lead us to an overgrown and totally impassable section, leaving us with the AIVF route, which involves a very short section on the Via Cassia and then a good distance on busy, but still fairly minor roads. Then we go off-road again and it is here that Paul manages to identify another option, which keeps us off the Via Cassia for much longer than either the AIVF or the local signers have managed.
Then some more confusion when the signs lead us into one of the hazel tree plantations (or Nutella groves as Paul calls them) that have taken over from the vines and cover every metre of spare space. We are doubtful that the owners would appreciate crowds of pilgrims crushing their nuts, but we persist with the route until it becomes clearly untenable. As an alternative we plot another, off road, but public route that does not trespass and ends on the starting point of the next section.

A good day all in all. No desperately steep climbs, a reasonable percentage off road, all of it perfectly acceptable for cyclists and better still minimal contact with the via Cassia - so very, very different from our experience with Lubie last year for which we have to thank both the VF signers and the knowledge gained from often all too painfully won experience.

Now we are really on the home stretch and I am two minds about how I feel. An end always brings a new beginning, which in our case will be a winter spent translating GPS traces and audio notes into guide book form, as well as gathering all the information we have not been able to acquire on route. In my head I have at least three possible designs for the layout, each with its own specific advantages, but no doubt the reality of the printed page will change all that. In the end I can only hope that we achieve our primary aim which is to provide a simple, easily identifiable route, with options to meet the needs of each specific group - riders, cyclists and walkers. Our secondary aim is to support this with all the supplementary information pilgrims need for a comfortable, safe, enjoyable and well informed journey - accommodation, historical background, local detail etc. Finally all of this must be presented in an easily accessible and durable guidebook format - easy!!
Vico Matrino is a small village with not much (other than Nutella) to offer the world. However, last year in the middle of a downpour we were grateful to find here another eccentric running the il Profeta B & B who was able to offer us a bed and a place to park our horse. With this memory, we are hopeful that this backwater will also be immune to the influence of DOODAH - well almost, "no problem with il cane" and the price? "65 euros including breakfast and yes a 10 euro premium for the dog" and this said with a poodle yapping at her feet.

We have done pretty well so far in avoiding the dread via Cassia without adding too many kilometres or mountains, but today we have to come up with a solution to that stretch of dual carriageway where the pilgrims (and their horses) are asked to walk the wrong way down the hard shoulder with the Roman commuters honking in amazement.

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