Just finished our 6th day of walking. Flat would describe the underfoot conditions pretty well, although some minor hillocks have been introduced to the mix of paddy, farms, towns and enormous factories. I’ve just been informed that Ellen’s feet are improving. Despite Ellen’s murmurings that a restaurant was nearby, I insisted that turning left out of our abode tonight would lead to food. The mighty extra three mile evening food forage proved unsuccessful. We then found a lovely pilgrims restaurant 50 meters to the right! This didn’t even lead to an argument and Ellen’s feet held up.
We haven’t quite fully understood food yet. It seems that if you order a coffee they give you food as well. If you order a beer you also get food. The more beer you order the fancier the food becomes. If you order food you get extra unasked for food. Last night we declined a pudding after a lovely filling dinner, only to be presented with a large custard doughnut, on the house!!
These flat days have merged somewhat. Had one chilly, windy and drizzly day yesterday. We stopped early as just too chilly. Today an otter swam with us lazily along a dyke. Ellen swore to a beaver ( mmmmm) and a rather regal Italian hare finally decided to saunter off when we got too close. The birds and butterflies continue to delight despite being unnamed.
We have seen no pilgrims but we have found that a venturesome Scott who set out from St Andrews passed through only 2 days ago. We have been forced into commercial accommodation more that we would have liked. Church beds seem to be non existent. Our two non commercial nights have been organised by rather civic minded parochial local government bodies. We are in a small town called Orio Litta, a short hare’s lope from the mighty Po, which we must cross tomorrow. The guide book made it clear that rooms were thin on the ground. Ellen courageously rang ahead last night, and was left unsure what she had achieved, our Italian being what it is. As we walked over the fields to a slightly elevated town, after 27km on the road a man suddenly hailed us from immediately behind. He gave us a bit of a shock. He was on a mountain bike dressed head to foot in cyclist’s Lycra, helmet and sunglasses. He introduced himself and said he was fore warned and had come to guide us in. He was very chatty and friendly. The ancient beautifully renovated civic centre was to be our home for the night. The tower (later to have Ellen’s pink knickers hanging drying from the top window) had been converted to two beautiful rooms. There was a shower ( accessed by a lift into the bowels of the building- ultra modern huge showers, enough for 50) and kitchen facilities downstairs. Our host declared himself to be the mayor. He handed over the keys and was off.
Tomorrow we cross the Po and enter the quite large city of Piacenza. Pavia the last city had an amazing domed cathedral complete with skeletal remains on open display and a relic of a thorn from Christ’s cross.
We are still chatting away, our daily routine pretty well set by now. We hope to have a day off in Piacenza, partly because it looks interesting but mainly it is due to rain heavily all day. Wimps, yes I know.
Finally it seems Chris was eagle eyed enough to spot that the incorrect truth was Italy being an expensive country. It is not. In fact I would go so far as to say it is generally less expensive than pilgrim’s Spain.