To Ronciglione - Feb 1
Walking a Volcano!
Today the volcanic cone of the Lago di Vico (Lake Vico--sounds prettier in Italian) caldera is our constant companion. We walk up one side of it in the morning, around its top most of the day, and down its other side into Ronciglione to end the day. In between we walk enough up and down to make us quite tired by the time we stop.
Via Cassia deteriorates a bit above Viterbo.
We leave Viterbo this morning by a little used side road past a small orchard of blooming cherry trees--on the first of February. The Guida tells us we are going through S. Martino al Cimino this morning. Its map makes it look close. At the edge of Viterbo signs point us two different ways. The red and white ones with a big arrow (the one it the upper right of the signs picture) points one way and our old reliable yellow pilgrim sticker (lower left) points another. We have been following both for a long time. The sticker version points up a rather busy road and the other up a much less used road. We choose the latter to avoid traffic. In a couple kilometers we are on a narrow path following what is left of old Via Cassia through an encroaching forest. Up and up we go along a nice overgrown path. Two hours later we are still not in S. Martino. We are getting hungry and no sign of the town. We skipped stopping on the way out of Viterbo because we planned on a stop in an hour at S. Martino. We walk and walk. Finally we come out on a road but there is no sign of civilization other than the lumberjacks cutting trees. A map offers little hope, it looks like we are going around to the east of Lago di Vico and skipping S. Martino completely. We failed to heed our own directive to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. They may not show themselves again. There were stores in Viterbo, we choose to pass them. Now we can only hope the Universe will provide.
Not to fear, trust the Universe and eventually food comes. The road leads us into S. Martino finally. We have taken a quite roundabout path to get there. And right on the corner is our yellow sticker pilgrim again. We stop in a bar for a couple sandwiches and then get some oranges at the grocery store before continuing.
Near the store Petra stops to visit with a local character.
The road up from S. Martino leads obliquely to the ridge of the crater above Lake Vico. As we approach the first switchback, Petra decides to take a path off the apex of the curve to save some steps by going directly up to the next level. I am tired and decide to stay with the more easy-going road. I tell Petra I will wait on top at the rim road if we don't meet before. The road doesn't double back. It winds out away from where Petra went up. And it takes a lot longer to get to the top than I had estimated (again the map is not to scale). Two kilometers and half an hour later, I sit down under a tree at a roadside shrine to wait for Petra. Not five minutes later a small car pulls up and Petra gets our. She has been waiting for me more down the hill and a Carrabinieri asked if he could help. She road up with him. We are happy to be together again. We didn't separate that way again on the pilgrimage.
The ridge road is busy but we are soon on another path, this time going up again. Some days it seems all we do is go up. What was the ridge road descends toward the lake as we follow the ridge into the forest. We walk for several kilometers through a beautiful forest with only momentary glimpses of the lake below to the left and the plains to the right. After sleeping under a tree in early afternoon, we come to the edge of the forest and are met by the sun shining on a brilliantly green field of grass.
Now we walk across the south flank of the volcano along lightly used roads. And things are looking different. We have moved from the tall thin pine trees of Tuscany to the broad-topped evergreens one often associates with the countryside around Rome. We are getting closer to our destination.
Walking along the south flank of the volcano.
By the time we get to Ronciglione it is almost five and we are beat. There is no going forward to Sutri. We stop at a bar in the center of town. There is no religious house here to stay in so Petra calls several places listed in a book we got from the B&B in Viterbo last night. Finally the last one, B&B Arco Tauro, has a place but it is on the edge of town and we are a bit tired to go looking for it. Not to fear, the woman running it picks us up. We settle in but Petra is in for a surprise when she takes a shower. The hot water turns very cold after a couple minutes. Seems the room is mainly a summer room and during the summer the small water heater along with the solar water heater does the heating job quite well. Winter is another story. We never get an adequate supply of hot water for a good shower. We have to wait for tomorrow night.
The woman also acts as a taxi to take us to a restaurant. Thanks. And what a pick she has for us. El Peccato is a gem. We arrive early to a huge, empty dining room, nothing unusual for us. The waitress is very helpful in describing several new items on the menu. I have the best spaghetti fruti di mari that I think I have ever had. The taste was to die for and I had a huge stack of clam shells when I was done. To tell the truth it could have done me for two meals. The place was special for another reason too. Only two waitresses took care of some 20 to 24 tables. They seemed not only to be doing it very well but enjoying it also. If I ever have occasion to return to Ronciglione, I will return to Il Peccato.
Il Peccato. I recommend it.
Viterbo 31 Jan Contents Campagnano di Roma 2 Feb
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