My Kind of Rainy Day

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Rain was predicted for the whole day today; twice I felt a few drops. My kind of rainy day!

The first two-thirds of our day’s walk were similarly dull to yesterday’s. Nothing but long, flat, straight sidewalks along closed-up restaurants and beach access points. Not exactly the visions of Tuscany dancing in your head. The season is over and the whole area has an abandoned feeling about it. The only interruption in the scenery was the occasional gratuitous slab of marble masquerading as sculpture. We made the best of the time by starting on Dante’s Purgatory, now that we’ve climbed out of the pit of hell, literarily speaking anyway. We ate our ham and cheese sandwiches on the beach, the gray sand merging almost indistinguishably into the gray sea and grey sky.

Beyond the city of Pietrasanta the trail got interesting again. We wound up through some hills, past a marble-carving factory, along secondary roads until we came to a little-used track leading into the woods. Back when we started one of the people officially involved with the Via Francigena sent us new GPS tracks with a “solution” to this section. The solution would have taken us up 200 m, so we decided to stick with the original plan. Ha ha. Well, at least it was memorably interesting after all that boring sidewalk. We had a lively combination of chestnut husks, nettles, mosquitoes, and a wide variety of brambles (including a particularly sinister hanging kind, like a curtain with blades) to push our way through, hanging low so we had to crouch down. We kept at it until at last the trail petered out altogether in someone’s olive grove. The farmer was there so we asked him brightly, “Via Francigena?” He just laughed at us and waved us on through the olives till we could pick up the road again. We figure it gave Jed a chance to experience the whole range of the pilgrimage experience.

The last section of the road included a canal, but it was pleasantly more varied in scenery than our past canal experiences have been.

As there is no pilgrim hostel in Camaiore, we called ahead for a hotel room, but this time we decided to put Roger and Ginny in it instead of ourselves—we figured they could use a change from the inside of the camper. Happily it turned out to be the most charmingly Italian little albergo they could hope for, with fat golden cherubs painted on the headboard and Tiffany-style stained glass lamps. Sometimes even the road crew deserves a night of luxury.

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