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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day 4: Montaretto - Salto della Lepre - Bonassola - Levanto - Monterosso al Mare - Santuario di Soviore


16.4 km 
Now this is beginning to feel like a pilgrimage!
After leaving the hostel in Montaretto and enjoying the amazing view from Salto della Lepre, I met Laura in Bonassola and we proceeded together through the former railway tunnel - now a pedestrian and cycling path - to Levanto and from there to Monterosso. It was another long, hot day of walking up and down hills on the coast, exposed to the sun, but the panoramas up and down the coast made it worth it!
 
Leaving Montaretto in the morning
 

The view from Salto della Lepre back over all the territory I've walked in the past three days!
 
Bonassola
 

Beaches of Bonassola - we didn't let them tempt us!
 

Taking a shortcut through the tunnel to Levanto - I don't need to go up and down another hill, if I can avoid it!
 
Climbing up out of Levanto
 
 
Artistic creations on the way up
 

At the top! Rewarded by a view of all the Cinque Terre stretching out before us - all the ground I will be covering tomorrow!

Once in Monterosso I headed straight for the beach to revive with a swim, a nap on a sunbed, and a plate of fresh anchovies cured in lemon juice made that very morning by my friend Fausto, on lifeguard duty for the day!


That still doesn't sound like a pilgrimage! You may well be thinking. But after the beach, I said goodbye to my friends and shouldered my pack for the long climb up to the Sanctuary of Soviore, a pilgrimage site for more than 1200 years - the foundations of an ancient church are visible through glass panels in the floor of the present church. The Sanctuary offers, well, sanctuary for pilgrims at a special low price as well as rooms to rent for visitors wanting peace and quiet far above the crowded villages of the Cinque Terre. I was the only pilgrim there so I was given my own private room right next to the church, with an entrance round the back in a courtyard shared only with the goats. After my daily routine of showering and washing out the day's clothes, I went to supper with the other guests, followed by a church service for a very intimate congregation consisting of myself, two older couples, a nun, the priest - and two organists! After the (brief - skipped the sermon!) service the organists - teacher and pupil - offered us an impromptu recital on the 1834 pipe organ. Even after we had all left they continued playing into the night, for the sheer joy of it! They promised to come back and play some more this morning at 9, but I have a long way to go yet, so unfortunately I had to leave this oasis of peace and fraternity.

Chapel on the path up to the Sanctuary
 
 
Santuario della Madonna di Soviore
 


My neighbours
 
Scenic spot for drying laundry
 
 
In church
 
View of Monterosso 500 metres below, in the morning
 

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