May 12 to Tentua di Biscina
May 13 to Assisi and May 14 in Assisi
Two more days of hilly rural walking. Mixed weather, sometimes sunny, the next moment dark clouds, thunder rumbling in the distance, but never anything more than a sprinkle of rain.
The day to Tentua di Biscina is the first day I have spent chatting with other pilgrims. First three Swiss people, then much of the day with an Austrian couple. Along the way I finally met two women from Victoria that others had mentioned meeting. They are in their 70s, don’t walk quickly, but they have been walking pilgrimage routes for years and have been everywhere.
The destination for most of us that day was an agritourismo (accommodation on a farm). This one is popular and expensive in the summer, but the rest of the year the main business is pilgrims. For dinner they put us in a big dining room with a toasty warm fire and fed us a set pilgrim dinner. Good food and lots of it. A great evening.
I wasn’t planning to walk all the way to Assisi on Friday. The guidebook breaks it into two short stages. However, I felt full of energy in the morning and the route signs indicated shorter distances than the guidebook. I arrived at Valfabbrica, the original destination, late morning, had lunch and made it to Assisi by 15:30. Very windy and as I walked past grain fields outside Assisi I stopped several times to watch the wind waves roll through the fields.
After days of quiet walking and small towns, Assisi is a shock. Gubbio is a tourist town, but nothing like the crowds of tourists and the endless rows of souvenir shops in Assisi. But Assisi is pretty and historic; you can quickly look past the crowds.
I’m writing this on Saturday, a day off in Assisi. It felt strange not to pack up and leave this morning. I’m now half way to Rome. Many people make Assisi a pilgrimage destination. When I visited the Basilica de San Francesco this morning, I got my pilgrim credential stamped in the information office, then thought, why not go to the Statio Peregrinorum (pilgrim office) in the church and get my certificate (testimononium) for walking to Assisi? I did and found it unexpectedly moving.