Another great day, covering only 13 km (8 mi), but having to climb about 1000 ft—but what a reward after the climb. First, a bar/cafe had just opened for us (met my Australian hikers at the top), so it was a cappuccino and donut. THEN, we had also arrived at the entrance to Cascata delle Marmore (Marmore’s Falls) which is a man-made waterfall created by the ancient Romans. In fact, it’s the highest man-made waterfall in the world.
Here’s the story (Wikipedia). The Velino river flows through the highlands (we just climbed 1000 ft so we’re in the highlands) that surround the city of Rieti—I’ll be staying in Rieti in two nights. In ancient times, it fed a wetland in the Rieti Valley that was thought to bring illness (probably malaria). To remove that threat to the city of Rieti, in 271 BC, the Roman consul Manius Curius Dentatus ordered the construction of a canal (the Curiano Trench) to divert the stagnant waters into the natural cliff at Marmore. From there, the water fell into the Nera River. The waterfall’s total height is 165 m (541 feet), making it the tallest man-made waterfall in the world. Of its 3 sections, the top one is the tallest, at 83 m (272 feet). Since the waterfall is also part of a hydroelectric plant, they turn the falls off and on to balance tourist and power demands. Luckily, it was on when we were there!
After descending (without backpack) to a fantastic lookout point, and paying my respects to the waterfall, I hiked on another 6 km (4 mi) to Piediluco to my hotel (Hotel Maralago) situated right on the lake—I feel like a tourist!
For about a mile, the trail skirts Lake Piediluco, at times even giving you the flavor of wetlands right next to the path. There’s also one pic of the town of Piediluco itself.
At 15 km (9 mi) and nearly flat, today’s route followed the swift currents of the Nera River and ended as one of my journey’s easiest days. That was despite walking for a few hours in a light drizzle and having a most difficult time finding our lodging—the iPhone just doesn’t work very well in the rain!
The trail was mainly unpaved and could be considered a farming access road as well as a road for the Monti Sibillini National Park. Some of the trail was under the shade of trees.
Crazy, difficult day because after climbing up the 300 feet or so to the Rocca Albornoziana, named after the cardinal who ordered the fortress built, I discovered that the bridge to cross the valley had been closed. The bridge is actually just the top of a huge imposing aqueduct looking structure. My only alternative was to go around the fortress until I find a way down and use an alternate route. Luckily an escalator took me down the 300 or so feet, but coming back up on the other side of the canyon was a difficult rocky path that foreshadowed more rocky segments to come. The downhill parts were especially hard on these jagged rocky segments. So, all in all, probably walked 20 km (12.5 mi) and climbed 2500 ft.
For my Australian friends, the day went even worse. They too had to do this bypass, but then took a “wrong” turn (they also have CaminoWays and are only using the book) and ended some 20 miles off course. We ended up at our remote B&B at almost the same time, they having taken a taxi to bring them back on course, as it were. So for nearly an hour and a half I’ve tried to get Bill to download MapOut, but everything was going wrong, and we gave up (he has an iPhone 3 and the app wouldn’t install; then he tried it on his iPad; couldn’t remember passwords or passcodes, on and on). They’ve basically lost confidence in navigating using their guide book—sad, but I tried to help, but couldn’t. By the next morning, however, they had the app and the two tracks working on Patrice’s iPad.
The rocky path was so hard on my blister that it popped, but no blood, and I’m trying to make a Compeed stick after my shower. It doesn’t hurt—just worried that it’ll get infected. The day ended as one of the hardest because of the sharp rockiness—glad it’s over.
The first pic shows taking a break about a third of the way through.
Pics of several water sources along the way wanting to make their way down hill—made for muddy crossings.
I managed to leave by 7:45 AM with intentions of beating the heat. But the distance was so short, only 12 km (7.5 mi), that I arrived in the hill-top community of Spoleto before noon. Luck was with me; my hotel is at the bottom of the hill and it was ready within 15 minutes after arrival. And, big celebrations in nearly every square—a three-day “Spoleto in Bloom” festival.
Since I’ll have to climb the hill tomorrow anyhow, I mapped out all the sights to see except for the ones on the top. I started with the Spoleto Cathedral, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, just a few hundred yards from my hotel. The Cathedral is Romanesque dating to the second half of 12th Century. Lots of activity in the square in front where an urban race was about to take place.
Next was Ponte Sanguinario (“bloody bridge”), a Roman bridge 1st century BCE. The name is traditionally attributed to the persecutions of Christians in the nearby amphiteatre. Then I walked up to the Roman Theater, now a museum of archeology where the stage was. The museum was great in putting the various tribes into perspective.
And lastly I visited a Roman House with well preserved mosaic floors. The thinking is that because of an inscription by Polla to Emperor Caligula that the house was that of Vespasia Polla, the mother of Emperor Vespasian (1st cent AD).
It’s hitting the low 80s, and tomorrow even the high 80s. Luckily, much of the route meanders under the shade of trees. The walk of 20 km (12.5 mi) with a climb here and there took me through the scenic, medieval town of Trevi. I read its history in a handout, “Trevi Footsteps”—so colorful and going back to 450 BC! Today, tourists and pilgrims pass through paying their homage to Trevi—and I did so with a beer in their little square. Any town that survives for 2500 years gets my respect.
Met a Brazilian pilgrim yesterday and met him again on the trail—we rested before the last push up to Trevi and then had a beer together. Afterwards we parted because he had to walk further than I did and on a slightly different route since hotels were totally booked in Campello sul Clitunno. Our paths may cross again.
A common theme of these days’ walks is passing through olive orchards. They range in age from newly planted to surely over a hundred. The bar in terms of age is still the one I saw in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem dating to the time of Jesus—never realized that olive trees could reach several thousand years.