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Wandering Loose in Italy: Siamo arrivati a San Pietro a Roma

Arrived Saint Peter’s- 28 Days and 550 kilometers
Leaving B&B in Monte Sacro 6:00 am

We left early again to beat the heat, which is much worse in the city. As I took this photo a seagull was eating a rat in front of us.

Nothing hurt this morning
Saint Peter’s Square
In line this morning at 7:15 for entry
Security checkpoint
Saint Peter’s is huge and somewhat overwhelming
Found our way to an office for our document

The awarding of the Testimonium document is underwhelming compared to the Compostella in Santiago. They stamp your credential and give you a blank form.

Get out of jail free card

The trail is 340 miles over mountains and all kinds of landscapes. It’s physically hard and resources for walkers are often limited. We (except Ann!) took a ride 4 times, mostly just because of too-long stages, so just for the first couple of miles. We got a ride for 20 miles near the end and skipped one stage. Ann and Gayden are tough, strong, fast walkers, and significantly outperformed Kenton and Josette and I. Gayden was not on our plan all the way but met us at Saint Peter’s.

We navigated using trail markings (often missing or confusing); the GPX track from Cicerone; Sandy Brown’s Cicerone guidebook; Apple Maps, google maps, dead reckoning, pilotage, and taking to locals. The Way of Saint Francis-Via Francesca – is much harder than any Camino I have walked. The weather was great most of the time but hot by noon at the end.

The people we met at the lodging, restaurants, bars, and city halls were kind and helpful. Many Italians speak some English, and google translate does the rest. We made a few pilgrim friends along the way (although you could go a full day without meeting any) and a few will show up in a future post.

I read two historical books on Saint Francis before the trip as well as some Italian history. I have opinions on the church’s response to this incredibly popular man I won’t share here; best to stay positive on a pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage over.

Wandering Loose in Italy: Roma Saturday Night

Tiber River

It’s pretty quiet during the day but at night the streets are full of people.

150 Gelatos
Saint Peter’s Square
Restaurants everywhere

Wandering Loose in Italy: No more Pasta, please!

We arrived in suburban Rome yesterday, an area called Monte Sacro. After resting up we went in search of the afternoon gelato. No luck. Five places listed on Google no longer exist. At 6:30 we went out looking for a bar for a glass of wine before dinner, knowing the kitchens don’t open until 7:00 or at 8:00.

We finally found a small cafe which had a good beer and wine selection, and were allowed to have some while waiting for the kitchen to open at 7:00.

€20. Good Cabernet Franc

We were not in a tourist neighborhood, this was a real local place. The friendly waitstaff spoke little English, so we used google translate to communicate. We translated the menu with Google lens.

Local Cafe
Pasta with shrimp and pistachio

One shrimp, raw. About one pistachio nut, ground. Bland sauce. €14. Others had the carbonara, which was much better, although very rich. Pizza has generally been excellent, and ethnic food very good. Salads can be hard to find. But the fancy pasta dishes?

Today we walk to the Vatican and Saint Peter’s. It will surely be busy with tourists. I miss the villages already.

Wandering Loose in Italy: Slackers!

We skipped the stage for today completely, it was going to be two days wrapped into one, which we are not up to. We’re feeling a little beat up and need a day off.

Our stay in Poggio Moiano down this way

We have stayed in all kinds of places, most booked in early March on Booking.com. As we get closer to Rome, prices are higher. Until recently our cost per night for Kenton and Josette and I has been averaging €60 per night.

Not your usual neighborhood: Poggio Moinano
This is how we feel at the start of the day
11 am
Arrival at 3 pm
Beer aids in recovery
Fabulous lunch today
Stuffed tomato with potatoes. Really hit the spot.
Basilica Saint Mary Magdalene
Nachos have always been a disappointment but these were great!
Goodnight

The street restaurants are gearing up for a big night. We are headed for sleep and 6:00 am departure for Sacro Sante, 19 kilometers into the mega city.

Wandering Loose in Italy: Food Heretic

Pasta “bla bla bla”

This is some kind of pasta. After a while it all runs together, and you have no idea.

Tasty. What is it?

The menus here generally have lots of words that don’t translate into English. So we have ordered lots of food without really knowing what it is. And it’s all over the map.

Pomodora
Carbonara
Pizza always great
Josette reads the menus and asks questions
This wrap in a kebab shop across from the campus was fabulous!
Breakfast
My pizza was basically a crust to hold a salad. Fabulous!
Great bread
Really Really Good
Yep. It’s as good as it looks
Three weeks ago; can’t remember
Cocktail €6. Snacks free

My favorite meal so far-the kebab today. It was a wrap with a salad, French fries, meat. The cook asked me if we wanted everything. I said yes. Three of them. My favorite meal so far. €4.50 each includes water.

Wandering Loose in Italy: crazy?

Long hot bike path

Yesterday we walked 8 km on a paved bike path along a river. There was little shade and it was getting hot. The path led us into busy city streets where we were soon dodging traffic on a road with little shoulder. The farther we got into the city, the hotter. We stopped at a bakery and ate huge slices of pizza and drank down the big bottles of water. We still had an hour to go, headed toward a convent. This is the time when you question this whole affair.

Early morning out of Spello

This is in contrast to the early morning (we started at 6:30 AM) enthusiasm we felt walking through olive groves on the side of a mountain along a path with no traffic.

1 mile out

We are in Spoletto, a very old Roman city, and this part is dirty and trashy and far too busy for comfort.

Chapel inside the convent

There aren’t many nuns to be seen but the rooms are simple but comfortable. Josette found the chapel and took me there.

This underground escalator took us up the steep long hill into the old town
The Cathedral with fabulous stone work 
I rehydrate with beer, Josette with 2 scoops of gelato
We should probably quit spending so much on dinner
Tiramisu

Wandering Loose in Italy: Trevi

Trevi

This hill town tantalizes the hiker from 4 miles out. The final push into town is UP!

Walking the streets of Foligno
Lost gloves in Foligno

Our guidebook said the city of Foligno, which we walked through this morning, was 80% destroyed by Allied bombardment during WW2 but rebuilt with a medieval flair.

Foligno
Poppies blooming everywhere
Wheat fields and a shaded walk
Trail is almost entirely in olive groves
Temperatures warming up at noon
Trevi appears but is still 1 1/2 hours away
Taking a break
Up into Trevi a la 1500 AD
Along the trail
Evenings on the trail

Wandering Loose in Italy: Halfway

Poppies
Flowers everywhere
Flowers around every corner

Spello was an easy 3:30 walk today from Assisi: 12 kilometers if you don’t get lost, 14 if you do. Historic with narrow medieval streets, shops, restaurants, and beaucoup tourists.

Lunch
Santa Maria Maggiore
Excellent Belgian craft blonde beer in a tiny craft brewery with a Belgian girlfriend
Between Assisi and Spello

We arrive in Rome on May 28th. Italy is quite a beautiful place.

Wandering Loose in Italy: Birthdays

Birthday Moon over Assisi

What’s it like to have a birthday on a Camino?

Suzan, Utah, Carolyn

People randomly show up in a piazza in Italy and sing happy birthday to you.

Gabi and friends

You get a happy birthday chorus from Austria

Hector Pedregon

Someone you knew from home meets you to buy you a drink in Piazza Commune

A marching band plays for you
Josette

Someone special shows up at the train station

Josette, moi, Ann, Kenton

And friends buy you dinner! Plus, you got here walking over mountains and through valleys and fording rivers and long, long uphills. Seventy has started very well. Thank you for all your greetings.

Wandering Loose in Italy: My Last Day in my ‘60’s was my best day on this trail!

Snow covered mountain on horizon

Today was my best day on this trail. My attitude was positive and I did 15 miles and 2100 feet of up (and almost as much down).

Stream crossing
Kenton and Ann at the Shrine

We all wrote in the book; of course, Ann wrote in Gaelic

Mountain spring water

We were all out of water with just over a kilometer to go, so we drank cool mountain spring water.

Our village is on the near horizon
View from Biscina

I was tired but not hammered. The last hour was almost straight up. The stream crossing was under the long bridge in this photo.

Goodbye 69