Number of kilometres today: 27
Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,575.0
Total steps since Canterbury: 2,184,244
Number of kilometres to Rome: 458
Today was not the day I expected. I left Manarola this morning full of energy and eager to get back on the trail. I took the 9am train to La Spezia and assumed that I would be able to get straight onto another train to Sarzana to start walking again from where I left the trail. The next train was not until 10.20am. I had an hour to wait so I walked into La Spezia central to have a quick look around. The town was only just starting to wake up to Sunday morning. Shops were closed. Cafes only just starting to fill with customers. It was very, very windy. I had to dodge a few flying pizza boxes and push into the wind to cross some streets.
It was 10.50am by the time I arrived in Sarzana and started walking towards Marina di Massa. After a slippery climb over a rocky pavement up to the fortress of Sarzanello, half the day was spent walking on quiet country roads through quiet villages with olive groves and vineyards and views to hillside villages. Peaceful. Serene. I had a bounce in my step and was happily humming Katy Perry's "Roar" which is on high rotation on MTV here and was on high rotation on the radio of my mind today.
After reaching Luni, I headed down seaside. I had visions of walking along a beautiful promenade right next to the sea but that was not to be. Most of the seaside land is owned by restaurants and hotels and beach clubs. It's not even easy to access the beach which is not the prettiest beach in the world. Brown sand and too much beachside development. It actually made the inner suburb beaches of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne look pretty.
So I spent three hours this afternoon walking along side the busy beach road with no view of the sea except the few times I cut down an access path to go and have a look. It was a much longer walk than I expected. I thought I was walking 21 kilometres today which would have been a nice way to ease back into the walking. However, I miscalculated as I hadn't properly checked exactly where my hotel was. I assumed as its stated address was in Marina di Massa that it would be within a 20 minute walk of the centre. In reality it is 4 kilometres and two "suburbs" on the other side. And it is in the middle of nowhere. Advertised as being on 4000 square metres of peaceful land sounded really nice when I booked it. However, not only is it Sunday, a day on which most shops are closed but a lot of the hotels, bars and restaurants are in a post-holiday season shut-down. The owner of my hotel directed me to a restaurant five minutes walk from the hotel. Five minutes I didn't really want to walk but I was hungry and dreaming of lasagne or a penne ragu and a big glass of red wine. I arrived. No lights on. The front door locked. It was closed.
The owners of my hotel fed me some green cake, grapes and a cappuccino for dinner. Gratis. Free. The alternative would have been my museli bar and two chocolate biscuits. All the food I have with me. I don't even have an emergency supply of chocolate.
My body is in a bad way tonight. The shock of walking 27 kilometres with The Devil after two days of little walking and no weight on my back has taken a painful toll. My thighs and hamstrings have been cramping. I have constant lower back pain tonight for the first time. The throbbing in my feet has only just died down to a tolerable level. I will be dosing up on voltaren tablets before I sleep tonight.
Sometimes I think it is better to just keep walking than to stop. It's when I stop that the pain seems to catch up and overwhelm me. And I am a little overwhelmed and over it tonight. Surely after two months of walking almost every day my body should have conditioned and I should be able to walk 27 kilometres pain-free? Shouldn't I? I think I should. My body is telling me another story.
Despite the pain and misadventures, there was still positive moments and beauty I experienced today. Those hilltop villages. Another sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. My first caprese panino that I ate for lunch (I love caprese and can't believe I have been in Italy so long without eating one.) The kind lady just outside of Luni who helped direct me seaside when I discovered the road I was meant to take was closed and who told me I was very courageous for walking alone. My cousin's generous donation to my fundraising endeavour that has helped boost me significantly along to reaching my target.
And the good news is that thanks to my not so great planning of today's walk, I only have to walk 12 kilometres tomorrow to Pietrasanta where I suspect I shall be indulging in a long lunch. Perhaps that dreamed of lasagne or penne ragu and big glass of red wine will be today's reality.
An awesome door in La Spezia
Man is not an island but his own castle can be. Sarzana.
View from halfway up the climb to the fortress of Sarzanello
Hilltop village of Castelnuovo Magra
An old bridge I crossed
Another hilltop village in the distance.
More hilltop villages beyond the vineyards
View back to Marina di Massa
Marina di Massa