We were up early and eager on the road today, with a shorter day of 25 km ahead—not a day we would’ve thought was short when we started, but lately we’ve been going well over 35 a day, so a mere 25 seemed like a real treat. The morning was very cold again as has been the norm, though it is still very green.
Our last day before Rome was representative of our previous days in Italy: nerve-wracking shoulderless highway trudging, a few terrifying encounters with ferociously barking dogs running free (cheered out by ferociously barking dogs stuck behind fences), big piles of trash in otherwise lovely spots, charming wooded hills, pastures nibbled to a short carpet by horses and sheep, a few streams to walk alongside or hop over, wild geraniums and dill and oregano and rose hips and periwinkle chickory flowers.
At some point today I suddenly realized that we’ve nearly done it—we’ve nearly finished our 1000 miles walking for the unity of the church and retracing Luther’s footsteps—this project we’ve been dreaming about for 6 or 7 years now—and I was just overcome. It has been an amazing gift and privilege, well worth any frustrations or pains (or ferocious dogs) we’ve dealt with along the way.
Such lofty thoughts were driven away, almost literally, by leaving the wild areas for the last time and entering into the outer ring of Roman suburbs, the town of La Storta to be exact, and its frenetic traffic. We had hoped to stay in a pilgrim hostel but there was nowhere to park for miles around, so we pushed on a bit farther to a parking lot where our camper crew could pick us up and transferred to a campground for one last night in the big white whale. We ate up the leftovers and invited our neighbors for the night, a pair of young Swedish men, over for a glass of wine and chocolate—they’ve cycled from Sweden, more than 4000 km. (Sure puts our 1600 km in perspective.)
Tomorrow we cross the Tiber!