👣22.6 km on foot – Monday 4th of October
It’s the 100th day of Road to Rome, an achievement that shouldn’t pass unobserved! To be exact, it’s the 100th day of walking/cycling, but actually the 111th day of travelling considering the 11 rest days we have allowed ourselves about every two weeks. What better way to celebrate this achievement than walking such a beautiful stage! After the first paved part, the group made their way along an unpaved road full of fruit trees and olive trees, to reach a disused railway. To our surprise we saw that the railway formed part of the Via Francigena, and so we followed the tracks before reaching the path again. On the horizon we caught a glimpse of the Gargano national park – a truly wonderful sight! After 13km we stopped at Zilletta di Brancia mill, run by Leonardo who offered us some melon and cold water, and who gave us a demonstration of how the flour is milled directly from the grain. It was an interesting experience considering you normally just see the flour in the packets on the shelf in the supermarket, or at the mill like my parents in Holland do, and don’t see any part of the production.
After the stop we carried on walking towards Stignano. From then on, the way become more interesting, filled with curves and gentle slopes – so gentle you wouldn’t realise you’re in the mountains. Only by looking down could I see the valley getting further and further away. At this point the temperature was over 30 degrees – and here was I thinking we’d have found more autumnal temperatures! It seems as if the summer in the south never ends, and it’s wonderful (considering that in the north of Italy and the rest of Europe the first rain has fallen and the temperatures have dipped). As you will all know, I love the mountains, so to find myself climbing in the Gargano national park gave me such a rush of energy, with its colours, ups and downs and wonderful landscapes – even more interesting for the photographs for our social networks and website! After the initial climb in the mountains, we descended slightly towards the Santuario di Stignano, where a group of walkers from the ‘Senza Cemento’ walking group were waiting for us. They will also join us on tomorrow’s stage, so there will be over 40 people! The group welcomed us with cakes, home-made desserts and figs: we were finally able to try them! For days we have seen them along the way, so inviting and colourful, but they are impossible to pick without gloves!
The Santuario di Stignano doesn’t offer hospitality for pilgrims, so the Association took us to where we will be staying, though tomorrow morning we will go back there to start the stage towards San Giovanni Rotondo.
San Matteo Convent
Tommaso Campanella’s house
Myra Stals, social media manager (EAVF)
Luca Faravelli, Project Manager (EAVF)
Mattia Fiorentini, Ambassador and blogger
Sharon Di Cinci, video maker
Michele Del Giudice, stage guide