Via Francigena

Day 107 – Torre Santa Sabina to Brindisi: looking at the Holy Land from the shore

The stage

Description:

👣 31 km by foot – Tuesday 12 October

Once more we walked two stages in one day, covering a pretty long section of the Southern Via Francigena. Unfortunately, given that we had a lot of meetings planned along our way, this time a couple of transfers were necessary to get us at our appointments on time. In the end, therefore, we walked less than we should have, something that I personally don’t like, although I understand some meetings are very important and we are, after all, on a work trip. One of the goals of the initiative is to build the association’s network, so it is very important that we meet municipalities, invite them to become members, and discuss plans and projects.

Regardless, today’s organization was quite chaotic – I’ll try my best to outline it clearly.

We started walking from Torre Santa Sabina along the seashore with a lot of wind on our faces, and after about 8 km, entering the beautiful natural reserve of Torre Guaceto, we met Andrea Motolese, who led us in a little building in the middle of this stunning natural space. The building, normally not open for visitors (maybe it could be, if you try calling), is a rescue center for water turtles that were found or fished, or for those that are injured and have difficulties that need cures. One of them, for example, is already 40 years old and has been in this center for 3 years due to her inability to open one eye; because of this, she cannot eat independently and cannot be released into the sea. I truly enjoyed this visit, that opened my eyes to the vastity of life below water and increased even more my current connection with the sea and with water!

We had a short lunch break on site, which included tastings of products that come from this very natural area. I tasted the most super yummy local olive oil I’ve had so far! Olive oil of such high quality can make any food delicious, just a sprinkle of it over any other food, even a plain piece of bread or a lettuce leaf: anything can become a heavenly delicacy!

We then continued walking towards the tower of Torre Guaceto along a stunning section on the seacoast. We went inside the tower of Guaceto and had an amazing view from above too – I crazily took too many pictures this time.

From here…well, we were transferred almost directly into the city center of Brindisi, and we only walked in town to reach the church of Santa Maria al Casale, where the other group was already waiting for us. Rosy Barretta, from the Brindisi e le Antiche Strade association, was here: the association will be hosting us during our stay in town and I really want to thank, on behalf of EAVF, Rosy and all the other members.

After a visit of the church, we went to the port and stepped onto a ferry that brings people from one side of the town to the other! Brindisi is another – as well as the very last! – milestone of the Via Francigena: in the Middle Ages, pilgrims used to embark from the ports of Brindisi to reach the Holy Land and Jerusalem. On water, they would reach Greece, Turkey, or Albania, and then continue their pilgrimage on foot. This is making us think of all sorts of connections the Via Francigena and our association could build with these countries: how wide can the Via Francigena network become?

We visited the big ‘Monumento al Marinaio’, literally the ‘monument for the sailor men’ – a monument to the soldiers fallen during the First World War. After our boat ride we had a meeting at the Roman Pillars in the center of Brindisi, with an opening by the violins of the school of Durano. My colleagues then visited a temple and the headquarters of the Brindisi e le Antiche Strade association (while I caught up with some leftover work). Massimo Tedeschi came back, and he will stay with us from here onwards! We had an amazing dinner all together that seemed like a proper feast, and then slept like babies…what a full day!

HIGHLIGHTS

– The natural reserve and the turtle rescue center in Torre Guaceto

– The Via Francigena section between the natural reserve and the tower of Torre Guaceto

– The fun boat ride and the amazing hospitality of the Brindisi e le Antiche Strade association

TODAY’S WALKERS

Myra Stals, social media manager (EAVF)

Luca Bruschi, Director (EAVF)

Elena Dubinina, international relations manager (EAVF)

Martina D’Agostino, project assistant (EAVF)

Didier Morel, FFVF

Clair Waiss, FFRP

Clair Chevalier, FFRP

Eleonora Sacco, RTR ambassador

Marco Rustioni, RTR ambassador

Francesca and Joanne, Ragazze in Gamba

Old friends Alessio and Massimo

Sharon Di Cinci, videomaker

Several local walkers

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