Via Francigena

Day 64 – San Miniato to Gambassi Terme: another walker bites the dust

The stage

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👣 24 km by foot – Tuesday 24 August

Loads of Cantucci biscuits packs, and a full homemade apricot pie (‘crostata’) for the journey: this is how San Miniato waved at us as we said goodbye. We passed through the second part of the town discovering that it had been decorated with pilgrims drawn on posters by kids participating to summer camps of the local Shalom movement.

We then headed out into the Tuscan hills, now 100% famous Toscana landscapes you see on holiday postcards. I took many pictures and videos and enjoyed every corner of the view along the entire stage! Giovanni Corrieri walked with us, a well-known local pilgrim who shared stories about the local history and landscape; he pointed out that, if we squeezed our eyes, we could already see the towers of San Gimignano in distance! We were also accompanied by Elisa Montanelli, vice-mayor of San Miniato, and by the Podisti Casa Culturale association.

Shortly after leaving San Miniato, Salvatore Liggeri, local writer and artist, led us to a tall wooden art installation he created, in which he carved the figure of a pilgrim and the words “20 years Road to Rome”. If you stand on the right side of the installation, you see a perfect frame of the town of San Miniato inside the ‘zero’ of number 20. I had already seen this installation (when we were still in France) on social media: our page had been tagged a few times in pictures of it by pilgrims who passed by. I finally see it with my own eyes – it seemed so far away then!

We headed towards Gambassi Terme accompanied by Andrea Mezzetti, city councilor, and Paolo Campinoti, mayor of Gambassi, who came to meet us by bicycle to greet us before we entered the town. We also met up with members of Gambassi Terme’s Proloco – who will host us at Hostel Sigerico and are organizing today’s, but also tomorrow’s, program: we will be stopping here for a day of rest! We were also joined by members of the Greenbassi association, who take care of maintenance and signposting of the Via Francigena in this territory, taking up the most essential role for the overall survival of the Via Francigena. Associations who take care of territorial maintenance of the trail are in fact mostly volunteer-based and are the emblem of the success of the Via – in name of EAVF, but also in name of all pilgrims, I want to thank Greenbassi and all the other associations that are taking direct care of the route.

At the end of the stage, we ate a lot of dust. The road was sandy, coloring my black shoes into white, and blocking my lungs a bit. The Proloco Gambassi Terme group decided to come to rescue us with a big watermelon. I’m not particularly fond of watermelon, but jeez…it was the most amazing thing I ate today! Shortly after we were rescued by more water: it started raining – properly, not just a five-minute summer shower. None of us was expecting this. The air cooled down; I didn’t wear my k-way, and enjoyed the fresh feeling of raindrops on my skin. I ended the stage with a huge smile.

Tomorrow is a rest day! It feels weird not to walk for 24 hours….What am I going to do?!

HIGHLIGHTS

– The beautiful Tuscan landscape

– Meeting the Greenbassi Association and Irene

– The wonderful taste of fresh watermelon when getting really tired!

TODAY’S WALKERS

Myra Stals, Social Media Manager (EAVF)

Luca Faravelli, Project Manager (EAVF)

Andrea Mezzetti, Comune di Gambassi Terme

Elisa Montanelli, vice-mayor of San Miniato

Giovanni Corrieri, pilgrim & hospitalero

Salvatore Liggeri, writer & artist

Irina Creazioni Uniche & Association Greenbassi

Alice Sconfietti & Francesco Mugnani (@viaggiaconalice)

Filippo Racanella, videomaker

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