Via Francigena

Day 55 – Fidenza to Fornovo di Taro: above and beyond for Road to Rome

The stage


👣 34 km on foot – Sunday 15 August

After one week of flat lands and rice fields, Road to Rome has returned back to a hilly landscape! This morning we left the city of Fidenza behind us, and accompanied by a big group of friends from Atletica Casone Noceto, we started our journey at 6 in the morning to escape the 38°C burning sun that once again today would be our challenging travel companion.

Almost immediately after leaving Fidenza, we started our first climbs, away from the plains of the Po Valley. It was truly refreshing to the eyes as well as the mind to finally see some different landscapes around us again. As you may have understood by now from my previous blog posts, I am a huge mountain lover (possibly because I am Dutch, a country that’s almost entirely flat) so for me being in the hills again is an enormous boost for my motivation and mental well-being.

After a good first bit of kms, we had a stop at Costamezzana, where an amazing welcome was planned for us: a short re-enactment with medieval costumes, songs and instruments, and to our surprise: an overwhelming buffet with homemade cakes and fresh fruit. The local community had truly gone above and beyond for our arrival, which was particularly remarkable because today was the 15th of August. This day in Italy is also known as “Ferragosto”, a national holiday during which most places and services are closed. The name of this holiday comes from Feriae Augusti, a feast day created by Roman Emperor Augustus as a moment of rest and celebrations after hard weeks of agricultural labour. The massive interest for our arrival by the locals of Costamezzana was therefore quite surprising to us, because most people usually go to the beach or into the mountains to relax, have a refreshing swim and eat some grilled meat from the bbq.

The short break at Costamezzana generated enough energy for us to continue our journey towards Medesano where we were welcomed with open arms by the mayor who joined us for lunch. Some stretches of today’s stage almost looked as if we were in Tuscany, while others reminded us of desert roads. Upon arrival in Fornovo di Taro we inaugurated a new Via Francigena pilgrim bench together with the mayor and other municipal representatives, and their enthusiasm about the Road to Rome event and desire to improve services for pilgrims in their town was truly heartwarming! 💚

Today was our last day in the plains so far. Tomorrow we will start our ascent to the Cisa Pass in the Appennini mountains, after which we will reach Tuscany and its amazing rolling hills.

– Spectacular welcome by the community of Costamezzana

– Finally walking in the hills again

– Walking with Gianpaolo Fattori, the official Italian torchbearer at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang (and holding the torch!)

– The enthusiasm of the mayor of Fornovo di Taro and her motivation to improve services for pilgrims in her town

Myra Stals, Social Media Manager (EAVF)

Luca Bruschi, Director (EAVF)

Sara Massarotto, Movimento Lento/Itineraria (@saramassarotto)

Massimo & Daniele (@walkingforcharity & @il_cammino_per_salus_pueri)

Gianpaolo Fattori, 2018 Olympic Games torchbearer

A big group of walkers from Atletica Casone Noceto

Filippo Racanella, videomaker


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