To La Storta - Feb 3
Fording a river!
Morning sun under a mimosa tree.
We leave Campagnano along a high ridge on a quiet road then along a busier road for a while. Soon the VF branches off onto a residential road, which eventually comes to an end as the ridge we are on dissolves into a valley. We find ourselves on a narrow footpath that descends deep into the valley where we cross a creek. The still-frozen ground on the other side of the creek saves us from some evil looking mud. Winter walking does offer some advantages.
Madonna della Sorbo monastery.
Like so many other Medieval religious institutions, the monastery of Madonna della Sorbo sits here like a fortress in a saddle dominating the road through this steep valley. And the EU is throwing some money into it for renovation. As we look back after passing down the road, it is appears an impressive blockade to someone coming up the valley.
We are not so far from Rome, maybe 25 kilometers (15 miles) at most but this is a remote corner of the countryside. Few cars come up this gravel road, at least usually few come this way. But tomorrow will be different. A kilometer down the road a company is setting up for a rock concert. Trucks, workers, lighting, stage pieces, fences, loud speakers, outdoor toilets, and chaos reign on what must most of the time be a very peaceful large pasture in this broad valley. And tomorrow the guitars, drums, singers, and crowds will be added to the mix. I am glad we are passing today.
We pass through a lot of suburban housing in the hills around Formello and cross the expressway again. Then we return first to peaceful back roads and then to the track that is all that is left of the Via Cassia Antica here. In a while we are in a field on top of a hill and Rome is spread out in front of us ten kilometers away.
Pines on a ridge road.
At one point the signs are missing at a Tee in the tractor paths we are walking. We guess the correct one. A sign confirms it half a kilometer ahead. Soon we pass a large model airplane field. One guy is flying a radio-controlled electric biplane. These electric models are new. In my days the batteries were just too heavy for the models to carry. Now it seems that this is a normal thing. But not for the other model here. Two teenagers are holding back a model airplane with a yard wingspan as a man runs the controls to rev the engine and get it running smoothly. I was impressed.
Walking through the pines.
The ridges of several hills are lined with the tall flat-topped pine trees that are the signature of the Roman countryside. At one point several of these trees are growing out of a large unnatural looking knob of a hill along the road. The book calls it an Etruscan tomb.
An Etruscan tomb with cabbage in front.
The road ends and we find ourselves on a path again. It descends to another valley where the book says we have to cross a torrente, a larger creek. The map shows a bridge. We look for a bridge. We walk a long way before we realize we have walked too far and retrace our steps to the crossing. I saw it earlier but refused to accept that we have to ford the creek. But ford it we must. Though there are some stones and sticks forming what one time might have been stepping stones, the water is too deep for them to help much today. The sun is going down as we get some more branches and try to construct a makeshift bridge. The time of truth comes as I step onto my flimsy stick construction. Splash. Almost immediately, I am standing in the water half way to my knee. It's not so cold. I stop fighting and walk to the other side. Why didn't I just do that in the first place. The only hard part was getting up the mud on the far side.
Out of the water, I take off my shoes and drain them and ring out my socks. Meanwhile, Petra takes her shoes off and wades across in her tongs. They prove a bit harder to climb up the bank with. But in the end after cleaning her feet we are walking again toward La Storta. The whole creek-crossing process has taken us better than an hour and all light save for a little lingering twilight.
Petra fords the creek while I pour the water out of my shoes.
But the elements are not done with us yet. The road is the second muddiest of our 14 days (the muddiest was surly that clay south of Buonconvento) and we are on the end of the walk so close to Rome. It is just a final test of our attitudes. We pass in fine spirits.
We walk into La Storta a little after dark. The road is chaotic--cars, trucks, people, movement, stores, flower shops, a lot of noise. We feel like we are back in the street on the edge of Pondicherry, India. A nice feeling actually.
We receive a warm welcome from the sisters of the Centro di Spiritualita and are given a comfortable quiet room on the back of the house away from the road. They offer pilgrims dinner so we eat a full meal after cleaning up.
Campagnano di Roma 2 Feb Contents Rome 4 Feb
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