Innsbruck-to-Rome

D-50 (17 June—Sunday) Rome

Tried to get tickets on-site for the Gslleria Borghese, but not was available until a Thursday window. Then we gave it one more try through the Marriott close by and that bombed too. Oh well, we’ll plan better next time. K&J and I had a drink and cheese platter at Harry’s Bar across the street from the Marriott and close to the entrance to the Borghese Gardens. After that we walked over to the Spanish Steps and the Church at the top of the steps.

From there we sauntered to the Pantheon and went inside with what seemed like thousands of others. Beautiful dome and chapels all around the inside of the Pantheon, which now functions as a Catholic church.

Then back to my Trastevere lodging (by tram) and a little lunch with M&M, and then rest. In the evening we went to the nearby Ristorante Sabatini for a wonderful Father’s Day dinner.

THIS WILL BE MY LAST BLOG FOR MY ITALIAN CAMINO! IT’S BEEN A WONDERFUL TRIP—AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME!

comments on pics:

1. At Harry’s Bar

2. Entrance to Borghese Garden Grounds

3. Top of Spanish Steps

4. Looking at St Peter’s from Spanish Steps

5. Down Spanish Steps

6. Inside Pantheon

7+8. At Dinner. 

D-49 Rome

  • ‌15 June—Friday (Rome) Took a tour this morning of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St Peter’s. So much beautiful art—hard to get your arms around it.

Transferred my backpack to new lodging in the Trastevere District, The Corner Eight. After an afternoon’s rest we walked over to Trevi Fountain—I think thousands of other people had this idea. Must be the same ones that have followed us to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, etc. Somebody tell them to stop. Enough already!

Comments on pics:

1. K&J inside St Peter’s

2.Pieta in St Peter’s

3. Next three inside Vatican Museum

4. Statue of St Peter in St Peter’s

5. Waiting to start tour of Vatican Museum

D-48 (14 June—Thursday) Monte Sacro to Vatican City

Last Blog covering my 48-day Camino, a part of Via Roma (Innsbruck to Padua) and part of Via Fracigena (Florence to Rome).

Can’t be more excited than this: two beautiful Testimonia of Completion (Assisi and Rome) and the successful arrival of grandson Kurtis and his wife Jesse. Thanks to all whose well wishes helped me through each day to build the momentum it took to finish 48 of them—and some not so easy at that. All the days, however, melt into an incredible memorable experience. I’m ever so grateful.

After our get together, we thought we’d take a hop-on-hop-off bus to try to keep Jesse and Kurtis awake, and get an overview of the city at the same time. It worked, and they persevered! Unfortunately, the Roman storm clouds showed us what they can do. Fortunately, by the time we disembarked for a coffee break, it was pretty well over. Except for a little rain in tomorrow’s forecast, it looks like sunny skies await us.

D-47 (13 June—Wednesday) Monterotondo to Monte Sacro (outskirts of Rome)

Had a great next to last day walking  a short 18 km (11 mi) and, although it says climbing 2300 ft, my guess is probably half that. Although rain was in the forecast, it never materialized. I arrived dry at my nondescript Hotel Domus Urbis and have already experienced their tiny rooms. With laundry hanging crisscross, I have to duck with any move I make. The good news is that there’s a mall about 100 meters up the road (picture included) and I was able to find special glue for rubber soles and a short-sleeve all-purpose white shirt for “evening” wear. It’s transition mode and maintenance mode, too.

About several miles out, I discovered that I’m now within coverage of the Rome public transportation system—that’s comforting to know.

I have another 18 km (11 mi) to walk tomorrow, but with very little climbing to get to the pilgrims’ office at the Vatican. Rain is forecast for the whole afternoon tomorrow—that’s not a nice welcome for all of us! Oh well, we won’t melt. Will turn my phone service on mid-morning so grandson Kurtis and his wife Jesse can reach me.

D-45 (11 June—Monday) Ponticelli to Montelibretti

Only 13 km (8 mi) and climbing 1300 ft—easy day especially going through olive orchards and vineyards. Temperature is approaching 90, but I took enough breaks towards the end to keep from overheating.

Met my Polish friend early this morning, the one who brought me to my lodging, after we discovered that the wrong telephone number was published. Then, when I really needed a break at a bar/cafe, I discovered it was closed. But the proprietress opened for me, and had me served coffee and cake, and all was free! Then made sure I left with some cold water. Then I came across a source of cool water at the edge of an olive orchard—what a blessing.

Many place names are followed by “Sabina,” and the town of Montelibretti is on the slopes of the Sabine Hills. Yes, it’s the same Sabine as in the paintings or sculptures “Rape of the Sabines.” Lots of legend / history here of Romulus needing women for starting families for the newly founded Rome. The king of Sabina, however, refused to allow marriage with the Romans. The Sabines were tricked and abducted during games. I never connected all that until reading some history of Montelibretti.

Comments on pics:

1. Olive tree about a few hundred years old

2. A water source when you least expect one at the edge of the olive orchards

3. Olive farmers keeping the fields cleared

4. Rocky paths are inevitable

5. My friend from Brazil I hadn’t seen in a while

6. The path I elected not to take.

D-44 (10 June—Sunday) Poggio San Lorenzo to Ponticelli

Designed my own route today (part bicycle route and part forest route) same distance of 20 km (12.5 mi), but not nearly the climb of 2700 ft. It was mid-80s and I didn’t need extra challenges! Proof that I was on the bici route—just look at all the bikes coming uphill. There must have been at least thirty!

CaminoWays had bad phone numbers on their vouchers for lodging tonight so a local (originally Polish fellow from Krakow who spoke good English) gave me a ride up here—again, an Agriturismo Hotel in the boonies, 6 km (4 mi) ride. But so far, a lovely place with not very many people—I don’t know how these places survive! I suppose they cater to the bus traffic that gives them spurts of business now and then. But the owner told me it’s the restaurant business that means most to him, despite having 21 rooms.

Comments on Pics:

1. Some trails don’t even look like trails!

2. A pond with statues and running water, in the middle of nowhere, right on the trail??

3. Yes, bici! But I haven’t seen a Bici Grill in weeks.

4. My Polish/Italian friend who gave me a lift. Then I saw him the next day on the road—Karma at work

5. My Agriturismo lodging, La Ripa

 

D-43 (9 June—Friday) Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo

Totally beat. Took the bicycle route, but outsmarted myself. Ended walking much further and climbing about the same—maybe just not over jagged rocks. Probably walked 28 km ( 18 mi). Decent weather—not hot, and no rain. Funny that I still ran into mud on the last 4 km and had to cross a creek for which I fetched a log nearby—otherwise I would have gotten my sandals wet.

Am at an Agriturismo Lodging really in the boonies. The kids in their 20s speak very well English and they’re working the business.

My socks are getting holes! Maybe I can get my two pairs to last me the five days, then I’ll buy new ones in Rome.

D-42 (8 June—Friday) Poggio Bustone to Rieti

It thunder stormed and rained last night, so that I wanted to avoid the muddy trails at all costs. Basically, I took the bicycle path to the town of Rieti covering the short distance of 17 km (10 mi) and all downhill. The town of Rieti is on one edge of the Rieti Valley, once a lake that the Romans drained via the canal that ended in the Marmore’s Falls.

Discovered this morning that my right sandal became a victim of the rocks and the sole is starting to separate from the rest. Hope they can make it to Rome—may have to use duct tape! Then I saw why I lost a water bottle—something tore a hole in the netting holding the bottle. And thirdly, within a few miles of the hotel, a little hole in my sock, became huge—it exposed my entire big toe. So embarrassed that I changed socks at first bench.

Rieti with only about 50,000 people is considered a good sized town having a cathedral and a university. Piazza San Rufo is traditionally considered to be the exact centre of Italy (Latin Umbilicus Italiae) and if you do a Wikipedia search of Rieti, it in fact looks like the center of Italy! Also just learned that our Lakers’ Kobe Bryant grew up here in Rieti from age of 6 on. His dad retired from NBA and moved the family here.

Comments on pics: one shows entering the old part of Rieti, then standing in front of the Cathedral with a statue of St Francis, and lastly about to cross the  Velino River.

D-41 (7 June—Thursday) Piediluco to Poggio Bustone

Today was a difficult day, not just because of the 22 km (14 mi) and 3200 ft of climbing, but also because there were several treacherous downhill sections that were rocky and gravelly making it easy to slide down and fall. It took me an awfully long time to get through these sections—I cautioned  on the safe side.

Needless to say, I took lots of little breaks to keep from overheating and getting dehydrated. I also met two groups from Austria (a twosome and a threesome). Everyone was struggling with parts of the trail today. Luckily it wasn’t too hot and much of the hike was shaded.

The destination town was nearly vertical and navigating through it to the hotel was a challenge. My app, MapOut, was running nearly the whole time through town because there were so many tight turns. To get to the hotel, one had to pass totally through town and come back up a ways on the other side. The innkeeper overwhelmed me with hospitality—within minutes after checking into the room she brought me a liter of chilled water and a 20 oz beer with potato chips. I finished all of it after which I fell asleep in a swing on the balcony. 

Comments on Pictures:

I dreaded going down that rocky, gravely path. And there were times the path seemed to disappear. View of the town of Poggio Bustone from our common balcony at the hotel. Notice the raviolis—4”x 4”!!!

D-40 (6 June—Wednesday) Arrone to Piediluco

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.