Via Francigena

Day 112 – Otranto to Vignacastrisi: a bigger group of walkers, dancing their way to Santa Maria di Leuca!

The stage


👣 24 km by foot – Sunday 17 October

Day 112 means tomorrow will be the very last day of Road to Rome. It’s surreal, but it’s gonna happen!
In the morning a big group of people gathered along the seaside for departure. Many colleagues came back to walk with us, as well as many of the Road to Rome’s official ambassadors and many members of Ragazze in Gamba and of the Gruppo dei Dodici.
We kicked off our daily route along the seaside, with very beautiful views. After a few kilometers we turned inland into the woods of Bosco Orte. Here, we bumped into the ‘Cava di Bauxite’, an amazing bauxite quarry (main component of aluminum) which was active until 1976. After that, it transformed into a lake inside the quarry, with emerald blue / green water, conditioned by the mineral! The color of the soil around the lake is bright red, giving the landscape a beautiful and unique color.
We took a lot of pictures here and then continued walking; we met with a local guide that led us on a little detour towards the Fondazione Le Costantine, located close to Casamassella (municipality of Uggiano), where we were awaited for lunch break. President Massimo Tedeschi was there to meet local authorities and the Le Costantine foundation, which gave us a little presentation about the development of walking routes in this area. When we moved to the other side of the building, we found two musicians waiting for us, one of which was Antonio Castrignanò, a well-known ‘Pizzica’ musician and composer from Salento! Many of the people in our group were mesmerized by his presence, being big fans, and the songs he played for us got us all clapping and dancing, not caring about the fact that our legs are still needing the energy to complete today’s stage – the music was just enchanting!
After tasting lots of traditional local foods, oils and amazing wines, we were ready to head out again towards Vignacastrisi. It started raining at some point, and our arrival in town was under a pretty good rain. From Vignacastrisi we were transferred (sigh) by a shuttle to reach Tricase, where we slept; without this lift, we wouldn’t make it in time tomorrow for our grand finale in Santa Maria di Leuca! Basically, we had to skip one entire stage to make it to Leuca in time.
The municipality welcomed us in Tricase, together with Pro Loco Tricase, the local InfoPoint and a bunch of local producers, such as Cooperativa Terrarossa and Martinucci, who had joined forces to prepare an incredible buffet for our dinner, enriched by music and dance. We met at the main Palazzo, where musical entertainment warmed our hearts after walking in the rain.
There is a very joyful and festive atmosphere in the air, and I’m definitely feeling the chills at the idea of arriving in Santa Maria di Leuca tomorrow. Did I really just walk the entire Via Francigena?!

– The former Cava di Bauxite, now a stunning and colorful lake
– The ‘Pizzica’ concert by Antonio Castrignanò, arranged purposely for us!
– The warm and musical welcome we received in Tricase

TODAY’S WALKERS (around 70 people!)
Myra Stals, social media manager (EAVF)
Luca Bruschi, Director (EAVF)
Elena Dubinina, international relations manager (EAVF)
Martina D’Agostino, project assistant (EAVF)
Jacques Chevin, responsible for the development of the Via Francigena in France (EAVF)
Simona Spinola, communication expert (EAVF)
Didier Morel, FFVF
Clair Waiss and Clair Chevalier, FFRP
Emile Ney (with friends), former mayor of Bucey-lès-Gy and first French member of EAVF
Pietro Oberto, Marco Rustioni, Valentina Borghi, Andrea and Federica (Trip’n’Roll), Crisula Barbata, Monica Nanetti, Jennifer Deckert, RTR ambassadors
Daniela, Francesca, Eva and Joanne, Ragazze in Gamba
Sharon Di Cinci, Enrico Baroni, videomakers
Old friends Alessio and Massimo
Members of the Gruppo dei Dodici
Lots of local walkers, including our friend Fabiola from San Severo