Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Day 7 Wednesday

We weren't disturbed during the night and were up at 4.30am to be out of the way before any workmen arrived. Nigel apparently hadn't slept a wink. On the road at 5.30am and walked for 1.5 hours into Montfiascone. Nigel's blisters finally got the better of him and he went off to phone Pat to tell of his decision to catch a bus or train into Rome. We had a cappuccino and a cheese & prosciutto pizza sandwich in an excellent café and then parted company, Nigel to find a hotel or similar just to get his head down and catch up on his sleep.

I took the Rome road out of Montfiascone - there was no VF sign and I only had a road map. I took what I thought was the right road off this but it wasn't - I weaved in and out of some back streets and eventually found what I thought was the right lane , at least heading in the right direction. It shortly became a green lane and then a cart track through olive groves and between fields.

I then crossed the railway and then continued, eventually meeting up with the NW-SE road I wanted as the Rome road to Viterbo was just too busy. I walked for maybe three or four miles (with a couple of long boring straights) until I met with a junction with a less major road to Viterbo but that was also too busy for my liking so I took a lane to the left after a shortish distance – much better. This went by some subterranean falls, marked on the map as Acquarossa. I stopped for lunch at 12.15 by the roadside – bread, pecorino and proscuito, washed down with water – good, simple fare. Continued on, passing over a motorway, to east of Viterbo and then headed into the town. I arrived in the centre of Viterbo at 2.30pm and the tourist information centre was closed until 3.30. I stretched out along a wall by a small public garden near the bus station. It clouded over quite quickly and then came on to rain heavily with a real ding dong of a thunder storm.

The helpful girl at the TIC could find no hotel for less than 65€!! There were no campsites nearby so I relieved her of various local maps and leaflets and walked out of the town towards S. Martino al Cimino. I came across a board with a crude painted map of Lago di Vico to the south, where I was heading. This indicated the presence of a campsite on the eastern side; would it be open? It was still some miles away. A little later I met with a dead end sign, having obviously taken a wrong turn. I stopped to study the map. I was then hailed by a fellow calling to me from a window of an old building nearby, some sort of apartment conversion. He was shouting in English – how did he know? He seemed to want to help so I went into the grounds and he came down to meet me. He and his companion said that the dead end only applied to vehicles and that he was sure there was a path through to Lago di Vico but did not know how far the lake was or how long it would take; his friend wasn’t so sure that there was a path at all.

I pressed on, entering woodland and following a stony climbing path. It came on to rain again. The way was quite muddy. The path seemed endless although just as I was beginning to wonder if it was going the way I wanted I espied a painted red F on a tree which was a relief – someone had decided this was the route of the Via Francigena – further occasional waymarking followed. The path was almost non-existent at times, passing through rough featureless woodland; without the waymarks it would have been impossible to discern a route. I eventually reached a road. There was a red F pointing to the right although I really wanted to go to the left where the campsite seemed to be. I followed the F, reckoning that there would be a path off which would take me down towards the lake as I was quite high above it at that point. The rain continued. I must have walked along the road for at least two miles with no sign of a path. Light was beginning to fade. It was about 6.30pm and I was several miles from the campsite – not good. A car went by and some yobs yelled Italian abuse at me. A few minutes later, a car pulled up by me and a young lad offered me a lift to the campsite! I didn’t argue and threw my pack and umbrella into the back of his car. He didn’t really speak more than a smattering of English and I didn’t even catch his name. He was on his way to meet his girlfriend. We stopped at a hotel/restaurant with a nearby bar which we went into; he insisted on buying me a cappuccino and off he went. The campsite was actually a few hundred yards further along the road, which I think he hadn’t realised. Still, the site was a welcome sight indeed; it was still raining and I got the tarp up in record time, impressing the folk in a nearby caravan, who had probably never even seen a tarp before. I was none too pleased when I trod in some dog poo a few feet away. That dealt with, I cooked a quick meal, had a shower and turned in early after a 23 mile day, the longest yet.

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