Thursday, 31 October 2019

To Search & To Find

Ciao a tutti !

You travel to Search
And you come back home to Find yourself there.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of St Francis is over.

The Story is simply told.

Florence to Assisi and on to Rome.
28 days to walk 530 kilometres (330 miles), ascending 17,000 metres (57,000 feet).
Daily average of 19 kilometres (12 miles), ascending 600 metres (2,000 feet).

What was it the Buddhist proverb says?

But, of course, Pilgrimage walks are about far more than just the Statistics.

For The Way of St Francis – like all Pilgrimage walks – is about the huge privilege of being outdoors for a month to Search.
So that when you come back home, you can Find yourself.

As Oscar Wilde wrote in the Importance of Being Earnest:

So what does my Diary record for The Ramble to Rome?

Well, firstly, the stunning Countryside. :

Lago Piediluco 

Lago Trasimeno

The spectacular Sunrises & Sunsets - Ponticelli & Arrone:


The amazing Villages and Buildings:



Bridges: Big & Small

The Tiber

Jackie & Jeff
Poggio Bustone

And the Architecture and Sculpture:

Torre della Fiora & Passu

Sculpture in Piazza Mazini, Stia

And, finally, the scrumptious Food:

The Cappricosa at the 3 Archi hotel

The Cafe stops & Panini pick ups:

Barry in Spello
& the best Panini  - from Foligno

And the famous Lavanderia days too:

Rest Day Leader Kate & the iconic Ironing Board

Dare I even mention the Hills?

If you have ever walked up to the Tower at Biscina or to the Tree of St Francis or at the end of a very long day up to the Castello Orsini, these are walks you will definitely carry in your Memory for a good while to come.

The Tower at Biscina

The lunchtime view from near the Tree of St Francis

And the downhills too, especially in the Niera Valley to the abandoned village of Sensati:

Then there are the friendly and welcoming People you meet along The Way.

For this is a country where as you pass people, whether they are 18 or 80, they always say Buongiorno.

Where pretty much every car and van driver returns a Pilgrim’s wave. 

Where there is always time for a photo; whether you are tidying the garden, picking olives or in the bar:

And though there is only 1 Pilgrim for every 20 who walk The Camino in Spain, indeed there are fellow Pilgrims.

Those you have known for half a century:

Nigel & Roger
The Fitz Economists from the Class of ‘71

Those who are Regulars on the Pilgrimage Walks:

The Class of ’19 in St Peter’s Square
#JobDone !!

A MASSIVE thank you to the 14 Pilgrims from the UK who joined me out on The Way.
And to my Logistics Director Dianne and to the Reverend Susan who manages all the statistics.

And those Pilgrims you are meeting for the very first time:

Brenda & Monica: The Santa Fe Girls


And now that I have returned Home, what did I Find about myself?

Travel makes one modest.
You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
Gustav Flaubert

The Way starts at the Duomo in Florence and continues to the Basilicas at Santuario della Verna and in Assisi, ending at St Peter’s in Rome:


Santuario della Verna


But as well as the well-known churches, my memory will be of the village churches, such as Badia Prataglia and Piediluco:

And especially the 4th Century Pieve di Saddi, standing alone in the countryside some 10 kilometres from Pietralunga:

As Pilgrims have done for 1,700 years, Roger & I sat there one warm afternoon.
We were offered a donativo Beer & Banana.

Though it is over 1,000 miles way, I thought of St Mary’s Church in Rye, East Sussex.
The church where I was christened.

And of its famous clock; some say the oldest in England.

To me, the words on the clock face very aptly summarise one of my abiding memories of the Pilgrimage; and indeed of Life itself:

And before we too passeth away, what should we do?

As I return to the UK, the Autumn leaves are already falling:

Out with Mylo in the Chislehurst woods

And I too am in the Autumn of my Life.

Rather like Pilgrimage walks:

The tragedy of Life is not that it ends so soon
But that we wait so long to begin it
WM Lewis

Looking back, I was far, far too slow to begin.

But at least I have made a start.
And plenty more Pilgrimage walks to come!!

Look out for news on The Ultimate Ramble with Ric: 2021

And as for you, dear Reader, well Charles Dickens’ exhortation in David Copperfield might give you a clue:

The most important thing in life is to stop saying "I wish," and start saying "I will."


Until we meet again,
May God hold you
 in the palm of His hand.

See you soon!!



Did I forget to tell you?

Italy: Best ice creams in the World!!!

Please do note the Healthy option ( Bottom Right) : the Salad at Tenuta di Biscina

(OK: It was because they didn't have any Chips !!!)

Friday, 25 October 2019

Day No.28 - Monte Sacro to Rome

Category: Easy
Kms: 15

To Date - Kms: 531
To Go - Kms: Not Applicable
Completed: 100%

Jackie  + Jeff, Karen +Andy, Graham, Sarah + Chris, Mel + Phil and Dianne + Me

The Pilgrims gathered for the Final Day on the Ramble to Rome:

Outside the Ars hotel

Welcome to Chris, Dianne, Mel & Phil for their first (and only) day walking out on The Way.

A gentle ramble soon found us on the Via di Moscha.
Reminding us - perhaps - that in the Eternal City there may be more than one eternal truth.

The Mosque of Rome

We crossed the Tiber on the Ponte Milvio:

And strolled along the path by the Tiber:

As we turned into the Via della Conciliazone there was St. Peter's Basilica :

The Ramble to Rome was over.

Time for  Birra Grande (or two)!!


It has been a real privilege over the last 28 days  to walk the Way of St Francis!

Thank you for following my ramblings.

When I'm back home in 🇬🇧, I'll pen some thoughts on Joining Up The Dots.


Thursday, 24 October 2019

Day No.27 - Monterotondo to Monte Sacro

Category: Easy
Kms: 19

To Date - Kms: 516
To Go - Kms: 15
Completed: 97%

Jackie  + Jeff, Karen +Andy, Graham, Sarah & Me

An enjoyable evening in Monte Sacro:

Good to meet up with a couple of Good Pilgrims from 🇬🇧:

After overnight at the boutique La Cupella, it was a relaxed start to the penultimate walk:

A final flock before we entered the Rome suburbs:

Still time for a final field & some modern architecture:

And on the manhole covers the familiar SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus:

With just 15 kilometres to Rome, the Pilgrims are gathering for one last time:

Days To Go: 1
#OnTheWayTo Rome

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Day No.25 - Nurola to Monterotondo

Category: Moderate
Kms: 29

To Date - Kms: 497
To Go - Kms: 34
Completed: 93%

Pilgrims: Jackie  + Jeff, Karen +Andy & Me

Sunrise at the Castello Orsini

Red sky in the morning 
29 kilometre walk warning! 

After a sumptuous breakfast we were soon on our way. 

A final look back to the Castle on the Hill at Nurola:

Autumn blooms:

And the usual wonderful views:

4 fellow Pilgrims walking today, with Karen & Andy out on The Way for the first time:

Monuments old (the 13th century Torre della Fiora) & new (Passu):

As we crossed the Autostrada for the walk up the hill to Monterotondo, I felt a real sense of finifugal; my Ramble to Rome is coming to an end. 

(Editor: Finifugal
All those afternoons Ric has spent watching Countdown on Channel 4 & at long, long last he has been able to use a word from Susie Dent's Dictionary Corner!!) 

More Pilgrims are joining me tomorrow as we walk ever closer to Rome. 

Days To Go: 2
#OnTheWayTo Rome