Thursday, October 3, 2013

The End

A full day off in Rome with only one thing to do, get our Pilgrim/ Via Francigena Certificate and the final stamp for our passport.
We headed out after breakfast, me with my mono pod as a cane and Barbara with her favorite red bag.

Tourists, for sure, only proper with the correct hats.

As a result of the broken rib, about 4 times an hour, my left side goes into lock up mode with spasm. It hits hard, and without helping myself, I grown out loud. Crowd clearing, it's uncontrollable. Like Torrettes Syndrome, it just happens.
If you have ever been to Rome, you know how many beggars you meet. If you have not, it would be hard to imagine. Yesterday we were met my a young girl dressed in rags, hunched over and shaking her cup. Just then, Muscle Spasm! She stood up straight and with eyes of "Wow!" walked away quickly. I suggest using a cane when in Rome.

Waking around St Peter's Square, we located the Pilgrim office. Much smaller then then in Santiago Compsetela, Spain, we got our stamp and Certificate and headed back onto the plazza.

A evening walk and dinner at an outdoor restaurant finished our day.
Tomorrow we need to locate bike boxes for the tandem and pack for the trip home.

This has been a spectacular trip of a lifetime! I'm not sure how we will top this on, but I'm sure we will!
My thanks to Barbara for making this all happen! Without her it would not be possible. What a wonderful life together we are having!

Thank you all for following our adventures. I hope you have enjoyed the photos as much as we enjoyed shooting them and seeing this beauty in person. Keep in touch and we will be on the road soon so you can follow us on another Barbara and Scott Adventure!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


  We made it. The last day was the toughest.

Our day started a a normal day. Breakfast, pack and then shower. Getting out of the large room like shower, stepping down, I slipped and spun around hitting the step up and breaking a rib.

I heard it snap. It took a while to get up, but made it to the bed and lay there screaming for about a minute. After the full body tremble stopped, I got up, dressed a finished packing.

I have been here before. To keep moving is by far the best plan of attack. Get on the bike and ride.

At times, but only at rest stops, wich there were many, the pain was so bad I felt like fainting. As long as we kept moving, I was fine. Slow going, we finished the ride on a straight shot into Rome on heavily traffic auto routes.

We are here in Rome now. The hotel is nice, but we did have a problem with what we felt was a safe spot for the bike in a city with a very high crime rate. We were told that the tandem would remain outside.

Today I'm stiff. Barbara has been doing everything possible to keep me as comfortable as she can.

I'm feeling like "Uncle Joe, moving kind of slow at the Junction."

As I said before, I have been here before and know that the pain will go away. Thinking about what might have happens and not being to finish our journey makes me feal very lucky.

Today we will be heading out into town to get our Cirtificate of accomplishing the Via Francigena and our stamp for the Pilgrim passports.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another rainy day

Our day started wanting to get on the road as soon as possible. Funny, no matter how hard we have tried, we can't start before 10am.
We were set to go at 8:45 and it started raining harder then we have seen. Looking out from the 3rd floor at heavy rain is more impressive because the rain drops pass you before hitting the ground below. Different then just looking up.
Packed and ready to go, we decided to wait it out and see if things would let up a bit, they did.  The clouds broke and at times, the sun actually came out. Clouds like you see in paintings. Almost unreal.

After getting the bags downstairs for the transport to our next stop. We headed out on soaking wet streets.
Down hill for over 3 miles on a very heavily traveled auto road, the SS2, which is the old Roman rad, La Via Cassia.  Views of the dirt on the side of the road looked as is it would be hard going for the bicycle, so we stayed with La Via Cassia.

We came to the next big town, Viterbro, that was mentioned on the pilgrim route and made our way to the center of town. Checking the map at the central parking lot we located the tourist office for our Pilgrim Passport stamp and went off, pushing the bike to see the town.

The very old town has even an older Medieval Quarter that we followed the signs.  The buildings were older then the rest of the town and restored to a level of tourists expectations, ours anyway.

After a lunch of snails  and raviolis we headed back out on the auto road with a sky that looked as if it could start raining any moment, and it did.
Not a hard rain, but enough rain to get our shoes soaked and backs wet. The cool rain was nice compared to the extreme heat we have been useed to on this trip.
We also have been riding with a strong head wind for the past two days, never a problem for me. The wind is nice without having to be anywhere fast.
On route we came across another very old town, Capranica,  narrow cobbled stone streets, soaking wet, we walked.

Taking our time and lots of photographs, we made it to the other end of the little walled village. The road became smaller and smaller and turned to stairs leading out.

We met two Friendly Pilgrims from Stutgard, Germany that over the years had walked from home. A lot of Pilgrims we have met do sections at a time and over many years, finish the whole route. The couple we met had done many of the Pilgrimage routes.

Our days ride ended at a farm/ hotel, agritourism is big in Italy. Both sides of the long driveway are Hazelnut groves. Planted in long rows with irrigation line running from tree to tree. No Internet access.
I headed out for a hike and photo shoot before dinner and before the next big storm slower rolling in.

We finished our day with a great meal of pork cooked with rosemary and fennel, and mashed potatoes and a chat with a couple from Reading, England. They too were on the road to Rome, on foot, and we're expecting to be there in 3 days.

Tomorrow looks nice for our last day of Our 2year journey to Rome. We are looking to being in the city for a couple of days to see the sights, finish at the Pilgrim office and box the bike.

It has to be said that Italy is bathed in history. This town, Sutri,, where we spent the night, dates back to Etruscan times and even from La Via Cassia we could see the tombs carved out of this tuff that was volcanic ash that has become stone.  The ways of the world are a marvel. The Etruscans left no written records, but their art work is almost other wordly.   The tombs that they used were then used by Romans, Christians, and them storage for animal feed, so goes the cycle of civilization. It's such a gift to see it first hand.  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Montefiascone. 64 miles from Rome.


After a great meal in a redone, to the nine's, restaurant and hotel, Hotel Toscano, we headed out in the light rain.  We stopped at the tourist office for our Pilgrim stamp. La Via Francigena is becoming more noticeable as we get closerbto Rome, there are different signs around giving the history of the VF or catering to the pilgrims needs. 

The view out the bedroom window this morning.

It was a quick ride on the Via Cassia, an ancient road, like the Francigena, from Rome up to Florence, to Bolsena and a view of the Lago Bolsena, which is a crater lake.  The country side has changed noticeably from large farms to smaller ortos, although I did see the best fields of corn outside of Kansas.  After Bolsena it was all up hill, 12km, Barbara's legs are screaming after who knows how many meters we have climbed, Scott is still hanging in there with his strong legs. 

We arrived in Montefiascone just in time for a late lunch, and did we have one.  We ordered a platter of pecoroni cheese with honey and fig jam, the most delicious cheese plate ever, who would have guessed there where so many different types of one cheese.  Barbara, staying true to her love of corn meal, ordered a polenta dish with bits of sausage, funghi and cream all served on a wooded trough, out of this world.


Bells chime on the quarter hour. On the hour, the time. At fifteen past the hour followed by one second bell. Thirty minuets past, the hour and two second bells. Quarter of, three bells. All night long. Not loud, but enough to be heard. Nice.

We are two days on the bike from Rome. It looks like tomorrow is going to be wet as well. The guide book warns cyclists from riding on the trail when it's wet. The clay surface becomes very sticky and will stop the wheels from spinning. We will see what the weather brings before we head out. 

Expect the worst and hope for the best. It's all one can do on the road to Rome.


Our day started as every day so far on this adventure. Breakfast! Pack the bags and dress for the road. 
We headed out around 10:15 and with a little tour through town, found our way onto the Via Francigena car route that always leads to the walkers route or the trail. Sometimes they are the same and dirt or gravel surface.
After the first mile we realized that the "Hill Top" town was actually not at the top of the hill! Soon we were looking down at the little town and on our way.
This part of Tuscany has many castles, family owned, they served as fortication as safety from being attacked bu the Sienese.
As we traveled today we saw five different hamlets that had their own small village.

The road has remained rocky and loose. Never flat, we were climbing and descending all morning long. Climbs of over 200' and more with warning of 15% grade going down, assuming that means up as well.  There were times when it looked as if we were riding down hill, but we're actually ascending about a foot every 20'. It was slow going so checking the altimeter woul let me know things were okay and in fact we were climbing.

Open, sunny and hot. Shade at times was hard to find. 

The trail has you not always going in a straight line to Rome, it will send you up to some town, making the journey intresting with opportunity for food and lodging. After awhile and when we became tired, looking at the map we'll skip a town to keep moving in the direction of Rome.

We have our GPS set for our final destanation and after 2 1/2 hours of being on the trail and only having advanced 2 miles closer, as the crow flies, and in all cases this trip, Mr. Crow lies!

We reached a point around 1:15 that it was time for lunch. We came to a fork in the road that if we went with the car route, it looked like some buildings far off and way below might have a place for lunch.
We headed down the dirt car route. About 2 miles and at the bottom of the hill we found a lovely, local restaurant and bar. It was then 1:25 and getting close to when most restaurants close until dinner. The bar stays open, but if you want more then a slice of pizza or a ham sandwich, in most cases you need to be there before two. There was setting outside and this day being a nice fall Saturday it was filled with hunters. We've seen lots of hunters out in different areas and pheasants to match. 
Lunch was great, home made pasta and mushrooms., Barbara had Bruscetta with tomatoes.

We returned to the bike and stayed on the street for the rest of the afternoon. We climbed south 1200' up on an open highway with very little traffic and no shade.

At what seemed to be the top of the hill we came to a tunnel that we could see on the map and pulled over to put our tail lights on.

The inside of the tunnel was lit and sloped down hill. It also was about 15 degrees cooler. A very pleasant break in the hottest part of the day.

The tunnel was just under a half mile long. We were only passed by one car.

At the end of the tunnel it was all down hill for over 2 miles. 

We finished today's ride to the top of the hill town we are now staying. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

San Quirico d'Orcia

Our ride started out trying to get out of town. It seems that the larger the town, the larger the problem. In most cases, the Pilgrim route starts at he church or in this case, the Cathedral.

We went back to where we recieved the stamp for our Pilgrim Passports and asked the grump behind the counter where the route started. She wasn't happier this morning than she was when we got the stamp.
She pointed away and said " You need to buy the ticket over there!"
having to pay for everything in this town I really wasn't sure if she knew exactly what I was talking about, but prety sure she didnt.

That's when I called in Barbara to handle the matter.

We of course, headed out the wrong way. We did however pick up the trail after about 6k and were now back in the gravel trail, what Barbara calls "Loosey Goosey" and sliding along happyly.

Flat for the most part, riding in a post harvarst world of greys and browns.
The trail is very dry and dusty. just when you think that you are surely free of cars, one passes at seed followed by a huge cloud of dust. You try not to breath it, but you do. The breeze clears the air after a while but never soon enough.

We were lucky to have a trail following railroad tracks today for quite a while. As I think you know, most tracks are flat and so was the trail. For the first time off road we were able to make time speeding along at about 15 mph. Not fast by most riders stardards, but understand we need to be constantly looking for the mark of the Pilgrim's way. If you miss one, it can cause you to loose as much as an hour and sometime cause you to climb more then you needed.

We found a nice bar/cafe rest stop after about 25 miles. Lunch of pizza and beer. Filled the bottle cages with fresh bottles and headed on our way.

The rest of the afternoon was all up hill. just when we thought it was over, it would start up again. We stayed off road till the end with a 800 foot climb into town and then more uphill looking for the hotel.

The hotel is very nice. They were hosting about 40 hikers of retirement age. They looked tired but having a good time together.

As tough as the riding sounds, we really are having a good time. Our pace is slow because of following the mark and avoiding crashing the bike. We hop off and walk if there is any question.

Our ride Saturday, today, is over 60km with over 3,000 feet to climb, most of it in the first 30km. Our ride yesterday was over 65km, with just under 3,000 feet climb, in the hot sun and walking in the dust with rocks of all sizes, it takes an active imagination not to loose it. We start late and finish late, so we are sure to be out in the heat of the day. It's interesting how the day starts out cool and then by noon we can feel the heat rising and then viola we are the warrior riders in the sun. The unkown always makes our adventure pleasent and fun.

Meeting Pilgrims on the trail is always nice. We stop and chat when we can, making a nice rest stop to share stories of the road. Many people are as passionate as we are about the long trails, following the mark of the Pilgrim, visiting churches, eating the local fun and passing through the countryside that is only known to the locals. The locals see us and give us a big smile, point us along the road, make sure we are alright, the Italians are an open hearted people and we are grateful to them for their warm welcome and support.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Out of Siena on to San Quirico d'Orica

Here we are in the paradise of Montalcino, a lovely part of the world in southern Tuscany and they produce a lovely wine. People are coming here on these dusty trails by the bus loads, sorry we don't have time to enjoy the products.