Three Interesting Sights, and Besides That Viterbo

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We woke up to rain pounding on the roof of the camper. By the time we drove back to our drop-off point it had stopped, and we had about a two-hour reprieve before it really came down, soaking our pants, blowing our umbrellas inside out, and chilling us through. My legs were aching from the last several days’ longer-than-usual walks, and I hadn’t slept well, so the whole experience made me crabby; but Andrew, being an extremist by nature, found the weather exhilarating. So that was at least one of us enjoying himself during the storm.

But despite the rather uninspiring mix of unused farmland and abandoned industry, we saw three interesting sights today. The first was a long stretch of real Roman road, the Via Cassia: 13 feet wide, with carefully laid flagstones fitted one to another, in pretty good shape after 2150 years! It ran right by houses and through hamlets, still being used just like any other road.

The second interesting sight was in the middle of fields in the middle of nowhere, nothing to indicate anything of interest except the RVs parked all around it and the wafting odor of sulfur: thermal springs. The area was paved and various squat ugly tubes poured forth the almost-too-hot-to-touch water into little pools. Time and weather permitting, it would have been a nice place to stop and relax for awhile. But pilgrims only four days away from Rome don’t waste their time lounging in the baths.

Beyond the thermal springs we made our way through Viterbo (for our purposes interesting solely because the general vicar of the Augustinian order in Luther’s time was Giles of Viterbo). It has an impressive stretch of old city wall still standing, but otherwise is pretty drab and positively shut down as if under orders, though it’s probably just Monday being the day off. We did not regret the lack of time to investigate the place more closely.

But right on the other side of Viterbo, our final stretch of road made for the third interesting sight of the day. The road ran through something like a trench carved through the soft volcanic stone, narrow and windy, with rocks walls from 20 to 40 feet high and often getting narrower at the very top. It went on like that for several kilometers. We have no idea who thought it was worth the time and resources to carve a road like that, but there must have been a pretty good reason to go to all that trouble.

Although it was a fun place to walk, it was a nerve-wracking place to bring a camper, so after our crew’s first abortive attempt to collect us, we walked farther than originally planned, crossed under the superstrada, waded through the all-time biggest mud puddle flanked by a barrier of briers and nettles, and finally rejoined them on the far side… at least until it’s time to start walking again tomorrow.

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