To Abbadia S. Salvatore - Jan 25
a mysterious dog!
Castignoni d'Orcia in the morning sun.
The walk out of S. Quiricio takes us high up to a ridge where we can see S. Quirico below us on one side and the huge Mount Amiata to the south on the other. Closer to the south is another castle town, Castignoni d'Orcia. The sun silhouettes the latter against the morning haze and side of Mt. Amiata. The morning continues to be enchanting as we walk over the crest of the ridge to the castle town of Vignoni Alta with its huge tower-like memorial to war dead. The castle is a tiny walled town with fewer than 15 homes inside it's walls.
Petra and me bundled up against the morning cold at Vignoni Alta's gateway.
Two hundred meters below we enter Bagno Vignoni, a bath stop along the road since Roman times, long before the VF existed. Steaming water bubbles out of a huge lake of a pool but everything is closed. Though it is a warm 15 degrees C. (58 F.), it is still January and that translates to winter to Italians used to much warmer temperatures.
As we leave Bagno Vignoni a large white dog escorts us to the edge of town. But he doesn't stop there. He stays with us as we walk down the long hill away from the town. Then he follows us a couple kilometers down the road. The road is quite busy with large trucks passing regularly. All traffic has to deal with this wandering dog that doesn't seem to know what traffic is. Finally, Petra says we have to take him back. I agree and we start back. He continues to lead as he did when we were walking the other way. A couple times when he gets a good distance in front, we try to turn around and let him go but he turns too and soon is in front of us again. So we continue back. At the bottom of the hill below the town is a construction supply depot. Petra walks into the yard to ask about the dog. No one seems to know who owns him though we had seen a woman talking to him in the town before. But the dog takes a liking to a woman in the place and follows her around the building. We make a fast retreat and never see him again.
The whole dog episode is curious. Perhaps the Universe used him to teach us to take care of others who are not doing so well themselves. Perhaps it was to teach us to surrender to the forces that be and accept that if he is going to be killed by a car we have no power over it. Perhaps he is here to slow us so we get to Radicofani a day later than we plan and thereby enjoy beautiful snow-covered hills instead of walking through a snowstorm as we would do if we were a day earlier. Perhaps he just followed us. Whatever the reason, the encounter is curious.
A four-kilometer (2.5 mi.) detour also contributes to making us too late for Radicofani. Together the dog and the detour add at least two hours to our projected walking time.
A mirror in Sedaleto reflects us and the surroundings.
The detour takes us across a Meseta-like plain of winter-wheat fields and past a B&B housed in a small castle in a place smaller then the dot on the map that identified it as Spedaleto. The sun is brilliant, The clouds puffy, the wind brisk, and the green vibrant. It is a beautiful walk. We arrive in Gallena around two, too late to eat in the restaurant as we had planned so we settle for some sandwiches at the bar.
Back on the road, we call Bagni S. Filippo to see if we can stay there instead of Radicofani we now know is too far to walk to today. When we hear it is closed for the season, we argue whether we should have stayed in Gallena or even Bagno Vignoni or whether we should go to another destination or walk back to Gallena. But we keep walking forward.
By four it is clear there in no place nearby for us to arrive on foot. We decide to hitchhike to Radicofani. After a quarter of an hour, a woman going to Abbadia S. Salvador stops and offers a ride there. I accept knowing it is in line with where we are going and at most only a kilometer or so farther then Radicofani. We begin a hair-raising ride through the mountains up to Abbadia with this Polish woman, a good match for any Italian driver taking corners on two wheels. Snow appears on the roadside, the first we have seen on this part of the walk. By the time we are in Abbadia, snow is everywhere.
As we enter the church to wait for the priest to complete Mass, a so life-like statue of Padre Pio stands in front of the church that at first we think the statue is a person talking to the people. But it is the priest on the distant altar doing the talking. Padre Pio is the 1999-canonized Italian saint who had the stigmata, the marks of Christ's wounds for most of his life. Devotion to him is high in most of Italy. When Mass is over the priest apologizes for not having a place where we can stay. But he gets a woman to take us to a reasonable hotel where we enjoy the warm night and reasonable dinner. We skip a shower because we just had one this morning. That proves a mistake because we will not have another shower or warm night until Bolsena. When you walk in the winter it is not so necessary to shower every day because you sweat little. But three days is a bit long.
S. Quirico d'Orca 24 Jan Contents Radicofani 26 Jan
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