Day 56

From:  Burchio

To:  Florence

Miles:  16

Total:  844

What a great day we had today.  The weather was perfect, the breakfast at the B&B in Burchio was excellent, and except for the very poor quality of the mattresses we experienced last night, and a slight false start by me this morning, it couldn’t have been much better. 

We stepped off at 9:00 sharp and as I always do as we’re walking those first few minutes every morning, I started going over in my mind everything I packed in by backpack.  Clothes bag, check; toiletries bag, check; jacket, check; cellphone/iPad charger, ?????  Wait. I didn’t  remember packing my charger this morning. So Dave got into the top compartment of my pack, and sure enough, no charger. So back up the hill I went to retrieve my charger. It was still plugged in where I left it. Good thing we didn’t get farther down the road than we did. 

We had a fairly significant climb for the morning, but it was downhill all afternoon. You probably are thinking “that’s nice; downhill is good.”  Well not so fast. Downhill can be a real pain, especially steep downhill. It puts strain on muscles in you back and legs you didn’t even know you had, not to mention how your feet go pushing toward the front of your shoes. Let’s just say we’d much rather have level terrain or a little uphill than steep downhill. 

By lunchtime, we were in the edge of Florence and stopped in a small cafe for a quick break and a bit to eat. From there it was straight down city streets and across the Arno River into Florence. 

I can’t say enough about Florence, Italy. It’s my third time here and Dave has been here before as well. Florence is the capital of the Tuscany Region of Italy. Back in Medieval European times, Florence was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It was the birthplace of the Renaissance and just about everyone who became famous in the arts from that period have some ties to Florence. Probably the most famous was Michelangelo, who was born just outside Florence in 1475.  Many of his paintings and sculptures are displayed in the museums in Florence, including his famous sculpture of the biblical hero David.  There are many famous buildings and museums to see here. One in particular is Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as “The Duomo.”  Built between 1296 and 1436, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions here. Dave and I walked around The Duomo today, along with thousands of other sightseers. 

Tomorrow is scheduled as a day off from walking. The weather is forecast to be beautiful again so we’ll take advantage of that and see some more of the sights. Meanwhile, we hope your weekend was as enjoyable as ours was. 

Approaching Florence from the hills east of town.

The Several bridges lead across the Arno River into Florence

The Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as “The Duomo.”

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Day 55

From: Montevarchi

To: Burchio

Miles: 13

Total: 828

We had a bit of difficulty finding a place to eat last night. The first place we tried was recommended by our hotel, but they were having a private party. The second place we went by was the number one rated place in the town according to trip advisor, but had just opened for the night, no one had any food yet and it was packed. We skipped it. The third place had no available tables. All of them were reserved. Finally we went back to a takeout pizza place we had walked by and decided to eat there. They had a few small tables. John had a large slice of their Margarita Pizza, which is basically a cheese pizza, and I had a loaded Calzone. They were both great. I guess it was just a busy Friday night.

After a good nights rest and a nice breakfast we were ready for the day. It started out a bit foggy but cleared up and turned out to be a beautiful day. Our route told us to take a bicycle/walking route to cut off a few minutes and the road looked good so we took it.

Bicycle and Walking trail by the river

It was nice and quiet along the river. It was all going good until we saw a construction crew. When we got close we noticed the road was washed out at the creek and they had it blocked. It wasn’t too deep, but the creek bed was steep so we decided just to walk across the field in front of us to the bridge we saw ahead and go over it. The field was dry so that was an easy walk until we got to the bridge and noticed it was a train bridge.

That was still no problem, since the bridge was less than 100 ft long. It was really wide, with plenty of room on the sides and completely made of concrete. It was also used for the slow trains, not the express ones. We could see for a couple of miles each direction and no trains were coming so we crossed it quickly. That was easy!

Our only issue turned out to be when we reached the other side and went down to the road we were fenced in by about a 6 ft high fence. The fence was made of concrete so it wasn’t easy to get over. John noticed there was a metal gate but unfortunately it was locked. It was made out of square metal wire that we could just barely stick the toe of our shoe in. John decided we could get over it and went first. It took a bit of balance and making sure we had our shoes securely in the fence, but we both made it over without a mishap.

That was our excitement for the day. It wasn’t really too much of an issue. We just had to work our way through it and be safe about how we navigated that challenge. The rest of the walk was not bad with another typical climb into town and to our hotel.

View from the hill next to our hotel.

We had the receptionist at our hotel this morning call to make sure our hotel tonight had rooms since there is only one other B&B in this small town. There are also only two other restaurants in town but luckily the hotel restaurant is open tonight so we don’t have to walk anywhere. Another bonus was that they had a washing machine we could use so we don’t have to wash our clothes in the sink like we usually do and can wash a whole load of laundry at a time.

We are looking forward to arriving in Florence tomorrow and hopefully taking a day off to see some of the sights. Enjoy your Saturday!

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Day 54

From:  Monte San Savino

To:  Montevarchi

Miles:  20

Total:  815

Today’s walk was a nice 20 mile stroll in the country. The skies were overcast all day which kept the temperatures down a little, and there was no wind; just like we like it. 

The day got started with a good breakfast at the hotel in Monte San Savino. We got out the door to start walking at 8:30 and after navigating through the streets of town for a short while, we were on our way down hill on a good road with very little traffic. The entire morning was spent on what would be a farm to market road back home. Because of this, the climbs and descents were a little steeper, and we had a fairly long climb in the morning, but it wasn’t too bad and overall we went down in elevation today. 

By about 1:00 we were about to give up on finding a place to get some lunch. But then, out of the blue, there was a bar/cafe along our road. We stopped in and had a sandwich and gave our feet a break. 

After lunch, we transitioned to a much busier road, and for the most part, it had no shoulder. As we got within a few miles of our stopping point for the day, we were walking on sidewalks through some small towns. We’re now within about 20 miles of the outskirts of Florence. The roads should start getting busier until we get to Florence mid-day on Sunday. 

That’s about it for today. It was a pretty straight forward walk through the Tuscan countryside. With this being Friday, we hope everyone back home has a good and relaxing weekend. Cheers!  

These little bars and cafes sometimes just appear right out of the blue.

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Day 53

From: Bettolle

To: Monte San Savino

Miles: 12

Total: 795

Almost another dupicate day as yesterday with great weather and a nice walk through the fields until we reached our city on the hill at the end of the day.

We started our day by returning to the Mom and Pop cafe where we had our late lunch yesterday. It was the typical Italian breakfast of a cappuccino and a creamed filled croissant and we were on our way.

With only 12 miles and four hours to walk today it was a nice relaxing day. Nothing really exciting to see, more of the same from the last few days, but the nice flat walk for most of the day was again a good thing.

More farm fields with our town for the evening, Monte San Savino, on the hill

As we finally got to town we had a fairly steep incline as usual into the center of town on the top of the hill. As we were reaching the center of town near our hotel there were a bunch of elementary aged children by the side of the road with a few adults. One of the adults asked us where we were from. We told them we were from Texas and Florida and told them all about our walk. The kids were excited to hear about it. At least one of the adults was a teacher and had the kids sing a song to us. John recorded it and it is on our video tab. John asked what they were singing and they said it was, “With love in our hearts, we are glad you are here.”. You will enjoy watching it if you go to the link.

Italian school children with their teacher after they sang us a song

When we got to our town for the evening we walked by a wine bar within a block of the hotel and it was still open and serving lunch.

We hurried down the block to our hotel, negotiated another great rate for very nice rooms and went back to the Wine bar for lunch. John and I both had homemade pasta with pesto for lunch and I had a half a liter of their house wine. Of course the house wine in the Tuscany region is pretty good.

Gnocchi with house red wine for lunch

We may grab a pizza later on if we’re hungry this evening. We have a little bit of a longer walk tomorrow but the last few days of walking been very nice in this area.

It is now less than two weeks until we are home for our 90 day break. We look forward to seeing everyone soon.

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Day 52

From:  Giovancorso

To:  Bettolle

Miles:  17

Total:  783

After last night’s amazing rest at the very nice L’Albero di Gameli B&B in Giovancorso, we were back on the road this morning at 8:30 with crisp temperatures, clear skies, with no wind. 

Today’s route was pretty straight forward. We spent most of the day on paved, flat roads, with some short walks on gravel and dirt roads through farmland. By about 10:30 we passed through a little town, but it wasn’t time for lunch or a break, which we try to save until we’re at least half way for the day. Little did we know that town was our last chance for the day. By about 1:00, we were very overdue for something to eat and a chance to get off our feet. Unfortunately it didn’t look like that would happen before we got to our final destination around 2:30. So we found a ditch in a field where we could sit on the grass and eat a candy bar and take a brief rest. I was fresh out of candy bars, but Dave has a couple so he shared with me. 

So we walked, or climbed, into our destination of Bettolle about 2:45 with a couple of choices of where to stay. The first was a hotel right in the center of town. The second was another mile down the road. As we usually do, we stopped at the first hotel and if it looks OK from the outside, we’ll go in and see if they have two rooms, and if so, we usually look at the rooms before committing.  Today, the first hotel, in the city center, was not open. Dave called the number listed on google maps and the owner answered and said he’d be here in 10 minutes. As promised, he got here quickly and showed us our two rooms. They are very nice. After  negotiating on the price a little since the rate did not include breakfast, we took the rooms. I must tell you, we’re walking through Tuscany at the perfect time of year. Not only is the weather perfect, but there is no way we would be getting these accommodations at these rates in the summer tourist season. 

Because we missed lunch, we headed across the street to the Tommassini bar/cafe after dropping off our backpacks. The cafe had a full menu and we scarfed down some awesome pasta prepared by the cafe owner’s wife. 

Tomorrow we have a very short day of only nine miles unless we come up with a different plan. It still looks like a Sunday arrival in Florence with a day off on Monday. We hope everyone’s day was as good as ours and thanks for following along. 

The Villa Garibaldi; our home for the night.
Bettolle’s city center.
Pasta is plentiful, and very tasty, in Tuscany.
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Day 51

From: Fabro

To: Giovancorso

Miles: 13

Total: 766

What a difference a day makes! After a good nights sleep and a good Italian breakfast at the hotel with the helpful and friendly staff, we were on our way this morning.

The weather was much warmer and the winds were light. We were on nicely paved roads with light traffic. Even better the walk was almost completely flat until we got into our town for tonight. Although it was a fairly significant climb at the end of the walk it was a piece of cake compared to yesterday. To top it all off the walk was only thirteen miles today.

For a good part of the walk today we were right next to the Italian high speed rail called Frecciarossa, which translates to Red Arrow. They can operate at speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour/186 miles per hour. John made a great video of two of the trains going by within a couple of minutes of each other. Be sure to click on the videos tab on our web page to watch it and any other videos you might have missed.

I mentioned the helpful staff at our hotel last night. Not only did they help John with his phone last night, they called our next stop, a Bed and Breakfast to make sure they had rooms for us. We tried to call ahead at other times during our walk but usually the receptionist or B&B owner didn’t speak English. We figured since the hotel receptionist spoke good English at this hotel she could check it out for us. It turned out they had two rooms available so we knew we had a place to stop for the night.

When we arrived we found out the lady at the B&B spoke fluent English. She was very helpful as well and is taking us back into town to a restaurant tonight since the B&B is on the outskirts of town. We again are thankful for the kind and helpful people we have met along the way. I hope everyone is having a great week.

We walked down in the valley along farmland and the high speed rail most of the day after crossing over a major ridgeline yesterday

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Day 50

From:  Bolsena

To:  Fabro

Miles:  23

Total:  753

Very tough day!  We walked 23 miles with some steep climbs and descents over very difficult terrain.  We are definitely in the heart of Tuscany now and will be until we get past Florence the middle of next week. 

We knew we were facing a longer day so we got started about a half hour earlier than usual. The wind was forecast to be 20-30 out of the north again today and the forecast was accurate. Lucky for us, part of the day we had some tree lines sheltering us from the wind.  But when we were on hill tops or in clearings, the wind was howling in our face. Luckily it got up to the low 50s by afternoon so it wasn’t too bad. 

Immediately after leaving our hotel in Bolsena, we started a steep climb, walking on gravel logging roads. Because these type roads are not traveled by normal vehicles, the climbs and descents are much steeper and they usually go over the hills instead of around them. After our 1000’ climb first thing, we were on a paved road going through rolling pasture land. 

By lunch, we had reached the town of Monterubiaglio. It’s a typical Tuscan town, built on the side of steep hills. Our route actually had us going around the outside of the town center. Because we needed some lunch and a break, we went off course to walk into town. After walking about a mile off course, we had not found anyplace to eat. So we cut our losses and detoured back onto our intended route, hoping we’d find something on down the road. Otherwise, it was going to be a candy bar and water for lunch. Just as we reached the very far edge of town, there was a gas station with a small cafe. We scarfed down some sandwiches, chips and sodas and were thankful we found the place. 

After lunch, we found ourselves on a gravel road that was following the Italian high speed railway line between Rome and Florence. This went on for a few miles until we turned away from the railway and found ourselves basically walking on rock trails through peoples very hilly pasture land. The footing was challenging due to the rutted out roads and the steepness of the hills.  We also had another encounter with a creek, but this time were able to find some rocks sticking above the water to step on; only Dave got one foot wet. 

We finally got to our hotel about 4:45.  Once we got here, I started working a cell phone problem that I’d had all day. With some help from the nice lady at the hotel desk, and a young guy down the street at a bar, I got the problem fixed. 

Tomorrow, we have a shorter day of only 13 miles.  We’re sneaking up on Florence; we’ll be there by Sunday.  The Tuscany region is beautiful. We wish you all could be here to see it with us. 

The Tuscan town of Monterubiaglio.
The Italian high speed rail line with the town of Pianlungo in the background.
Our view of the Tuscan countryside as we walked the backroads.
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Day 49

From: Viterbo

To: Bolsena

Miles: 19

Total: 730

Although half our walk was uphill and longer than yesterday, overall it was a better walking day. While it was still windy and cold, the wind was lighter most of the day and we had less gusts.

Today took us along a main road most of the day, but luckily it was Sunday so traffic was light. At the halfway point when we had basically reached the top of our climb for the day we stopped in another medieval historic town for lunch. The place we stopped in was very busy. John mentioned it would be just like the Dairy Queen back home in Texas on Sunday and I agreed.

Montefiascone was our stop for lunch

After a nice break and a Sandwich we finished the second half of our walk ending up in a town by a large lake. The first hotel we stopped in to check out looked very nice but the door was locked and no one answered when we rang the doorbell and called their phone number. We stopped in at a cafe down the street and they said that hotel was always open. We told them not today. They were kind enough to give us some alternatives just a few blocks down.

Bolsena, our stop for the night

Before we reached their first recommendation we stopped in at a hotel that looked ok from the outside. Once we went inside the place was packed. It was some type of group and they were all checking out and seemed happy. That is always a good sign. The lobby and restaurant were also very nice. The lady at the counter didn’t speak any English but with help from one of her younger staff member who spoke it a bit we were able to check out the rooms, which turned out to be just fine so we grabbed a couple of rooms for the night.

Before we reached town we went by the Bolsena Commonwealth War Cemetery. During World War II, the Germans made their first stand after being driven north of Rome at Bolsena and to the east of Lake Bolsena, there was a tank battle in June 1944 between the 6th South African Armoured Division and the Hermann Goering Panzer Division. The site for the cemetery was chosen in November 1944, and graves were brought in from the battlefields between Bolsena and Orvieto. Almost one-third of those buried at Bolsena were South Africans. The cemetery is on the actual site of the first camp occupied by General Alexander’s advanced headquarters after the liberation of Rome and it was here that King George VI visited General Alexander at the end of July 1944. Bolsena War Cemetery contains 597 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 40 of them unidentified.

Bolsena Commonwealth War Cemetery

The lake we are staying next to is Lake Bolsena which was formed by volcanic and tectonic activity. Roman historic records indicate activity of the Vulsini volcano occurred as recently as 104 BC; it has been dormant since then. The two islands in the southern part of the lake were formed by underwater eruptions following the collapse that created the depression. The town itself is situated on hills overlooking the lake. We will get to go over those hills tomorrow on an even longer walk than today and hopefully get a good picture of the lake. Have a fantastic Sunday and thanks for following along!

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Day 48

From:  Capranica

To:  Viterbo

Miles:  16

Total:  711

Today’s walk was a tough one for several reasons that I’ll explain below. 

We got on the road today at 8:45. Rather than our normal Italian breakfast at the hotel, we were given a voucher to go to a local coffee shop just down the street. This was not the first time we’ve faced this arrangement. Unfortunately, the voucher was only good for one drink and one pastry.  That’s not a lot of breakfast to start the day on, but nevertheless, we enjoyed what we got. ie, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. 

After the not so beefy breakfast, our next challenge was the weather; specifically, the wind. Though the sun was shining, and the high for today was suppose to be in the upper 40’s, the winds were forecast 15-25 from the north. In our case, that’s right in our face. I think the forecast was a little off on the winds. At times, we had to come to a complete stop to catch our balance. When we were protected by trees, it wasn’t so bad. But when there was a clearing, or we topped a hill, the wind was very strong. 

We finally made it into our destination city of Viterbo around 2:30. We had intentionally picked out a Best Western hotel on the far side of town because it took a mile off tomorrow’s walking distance. To get there, we walked straight through the center of town and kept going another mile to our hotel. For the first time on this walk, when we walked up and asked for rooms, the attendant said they were full for the night. Not what we wanted to hear because we had just walked past some hotels a mile back in the city center. So back out into the wind we went, backtracking into town to find another place to stay. Luckily, we had a tailwind going back so it wasn’t so bad, and the first hotel we came to had rooms and they’re nice. 

One note of interest about Viterbo; it’s center is surrounded by medieval walls built in the 11th and 12th centuries which are still intact. 

Tomorrow is forecast to once again be a windy day as we make our way to the lakeside town of Bolsena, 18 miles away.  Thanks for reading today and we hope everyone’s Saturday was a good one. 

Walking down a windy hill towards Viterbo.
The medieval walls surrounding the city of Viterbo.

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Day 47

From: Braccianio

To: Capranica

Miles: 14

Total: 695

Today’s walk started with a fairly significant climb, but it was on back roads, initially paved, then some gravel and even part of the old Roman road with large stones. That lasted for maybe the first third of the walk and then the rest of the way was on a nice paved road, some of it recently paved. Traffic was light all day.

Horse along the back roads to start the day

Part of the old Roman stone road. Not much fun to walk on.

We made a quick stop at a cafe after less than two hours for a drink and snack because we knew there wasn’t anything else until we reached our hotel for the night.

The rest of the walk was uneventful but once again when we rounded a corner coming into town we saw a breathtaking historical town ahead of us on a cliff. Walking the rest of the way into town didn’t disappoint either. The route to our hotel led us through arches into the medieval part of town. Just outside the arches about a block from our hotel we noticed a small pizzeria packed with locals and decided once we reached the hotel we would head back there to grab a bite.

Capranica, our stop for the night
John heading through the arch into the historic part of Capranica. Ghost Pepper Pizza with the great Roman style pizza is on the left side of the arch.

About a block down on the right we saw a sign for our hotel, but it took a few minutes to figure out which door was the entrance. Unfortunately that door was locked and there was no buzzer but it did have a phone number on the door. John decided to give it a try. A lady answered and said she would be there in three minutes. After just a few minutes she showed up with her brother who spoke decent English. They showed us the rooms and they were just fine. He also showed us a restaurant right next door where we can eat tonight as well as the café where we will get the breakfast included with the room. The hotel and rooms themselves are basic but very clean and well taken care of. The biggest difference between last nights hotel and this hotel is you can tell they really work to take care of this place and the owners are very friendly and helpful. Attitude and effort make all the difference in the world.

After we checked in, we went back to the pizza joint, called Ghost Pepper Pizza, and had fantastic pizza. It was probably the best we have had so far. It was thin crust Roman pizza with a very light and crispy crust. The guy running the place said the dough rises for 72 hours before they use it. He spoke pretty good English and we talked to him about our trip. I asked if he made Ghost Pepper Pizza and he showed me the jar of ghost peppers. Habenero pepper is about my limit so I didn’t ask him to make one:)

Our Roman style pizza at Ghost Pepper Pizza

Once more to end our day we had the pleasure of meeting nice townspeople and stopping in a picturesque town. Have a great Friday!

Church next to the hotel

Town clock just up the street from the hotel
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