Number of kilometres today: 30.0
Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,478.0
Total steps since Canterbury: 2,087,463
I set off today not sure where I would end up tonight. Maybe Cassio. Maybe Berceto if I thought I could I make it that far after reaching Cassio. I wasn't sure how difficult the hills would be or how long it would take me. The hills here are challenging, more difficult than I remember the Alps being but I am now a long way into this journey and I am very tired and still fighting off a virus that is probably making it harder than it otherwise would be.
I arrived in Cassio at 1.50pm. It was a small village with one bar/ristorante/hotel and not much else. I ate my not so buono panino I made myself on 2 day old baguette because yesterday was Sunday and everything in Fornovo di Taro was closed so I couldn't buy fresh supplies for today. I decided to keep walking.
I walked towards the dark and menacing sky. It will be okay I told myself. It did the same thing yesterday and blew over. The clouds sprinkled me from time to time, teasing. The wind was coldly fierce reaching right into my body and wrapping around my bones and shaking them hard. I kept walking. The paths were broken rock covered in golden and deep tan leaves often with deep crevices from heavy rains running through the middle. I had to tread carefully. On one particularly steep section it took me 20 minutes to walk up 400 metres. It will be okay I told myself and put my head down looking at my feet, at each step I took. Sometimes it is better to do that than to look at where you are going because if you see how difficult it is you want to stop before you really give it a go.
It is so beautiful here at this time of year. I thought Melbourne had beautiful Autumns but its nothing compared to here. The colours are vivid and there are shades of Autumn I never knew existed. I want to drown in them all. I want to remember this forever. I want you to see what I am seeing but this was not my day for photos The sun was always in the wrong place. The light too bright. The angles all wrong. I couldn't capture it the way I saw it and wanted to remember it. It will be okay I told myself. Just keep on walking and watching so you remember this forever. I kept on walking, dreaming about building my own Autumn snow dome, a life sized one that I could stand in where the yellow and burnt orange and wine and golden apricot leaves could rain down upon me at the touch of a button.
As I climbed one last steep ridge before descending into Berceto, all of my frustrations evaporated. The sun pierced those menacing clouds as if to say I am still king, spotlighting the castle-like cemetery on the outskirts of town. It was an amazing sky, one of my greatest loves on this earth. For the first time today, I took a photo which was exactly how I wanted to remember that moment.
Descending into Berceto, I remembered it is Monday, a day some shops and restaurants are often closed as they were. But I also discovered that as summer has ended, some places are already permanently closed for the coming winter. I walked past three of my accommodation options. Closed. There was no rising panic as there would have been two months ago. Un-oh bounced around my foggy head a few times. It will be okay.
I passed a sign for La Casa dei Nonni when I was descending from the ridge. I went in search of Nonni, found Nonni with nobody home, rang the number, spoke in Italian and was responded to in English that she would ring Mamma who would be there in 5 minutes. She was. They couldn't provide breakfast. Non problema. I just needed a bed. Breakfast I would worry about tomorrow.
At the appropriate hour, ie after 7.30pm, I went to find somewhere to eat. The few places that are here were closed because it is Monday. It will be okay I told myself. I had bought a couple of bananas and an apple earlier and I always have the emergency supply of chocolate that gets eaten and replenished regularly because I seem to have a lot of emergencies.
Then I found a bar/pizzeria and walked in not so excited to eat pizza again for the fourth time in a week but happy to be eating something hot for dinner only to find out that the pizzeria was closed. Of course. It's Monday. But they could make me a panino. Best ham and cheese toasted sandwich I have ever eaten. Topped off with a complimentary sambucca and a chat with a few of the locals about my journey. They have reassured me that once I reach Cisa Pass tomorrow the walk down to Pontremoli is easy. Maybe easier is the word they really meant.
It will be okay I told myself. It was. It is. It was and is more than okay.
Newly planted field outside of Fornovo di Taro
Can you see me?
The long and winding road...
i was glad to get out of the pine forest. It was so windy and there were lots of branches that had fallen down.
Resting place for pilgrims or dumped sofa?
The Autumn colours have just been magnificent
I hate mud. I think I will always hate mud. This was unavoidable. At least it wasn't the thick clay mud that clumps to the bottom of my boots and feels really icky underfoot.