Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 14: Altopascio - San Miniato

27 km according to GPS tracker, but it missed some pretty substantial bits so I'd say it's more like 30.
At least, this is what my legs are telling me this evening!!!

I departed the pilgrims' hostel in Altopascio quite early in the morning - pilgrims all get up at dawn. Sava was off at 5:30 am and I haven't seen him since, despite his sore feet! Davide and Simone took the train back home to get on with more ordinary tasks (such as moving beehives and attending the first day of classes at university - well, maybe not so ordinary!)

The present-day pilgrims' hostel is the yellow building in the middle on the right side of this picture

The view from the hostel

Altopascio was practically built to meet the needs of pilgrims. All of the old town was originally one big hostel complex; the restaurant where we ate last night was where the pilgrims dined.

Leaving Altopascio

A section of the old Via Francigena with the original pavement

New boots tread old roads

The GPS signal was interrupted coming out of Altopascio, and also I unintentionally stopped the track when using the map to find my way after briefly losing the Via Francigena!

Part one above (before I got lost), part two below (after I found my way again)!

Wild cyclamens were everywhere in the woods

Ready for the harvest

Ponte a Cappiano, where there is a hostel right on the bridge. It looked lovely, but it was too early to turn in for the night!

Ponte a Cappiano

Fucecchio - a ghost town at 2 on a Saturday afternoon

Lots of stuff in this house in Fucecchio - Indro Montanelli's home, the headquarters of various associations, and the bar and clubhouse of one of the contrade

They have a palio in Fucecchio too

That's the tower at San Miniato off in the distance - and I need to be there before nightfall!

Crossing the Arno - a major milestone

Grape harvest on the way to San Miniato

It's still a long way up there!

But they're flying my flag, so I plod on uphill

This is it! The monastery of San Francesco. Built on the spot where the saint himself stopped in 1219

Pilgrims at dinner in the monastery refectory

Silentium! I should sleep well here!

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