Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Farewell the mountain kingdom...

I am writing this in the main square of Ivrea - the mountain country now behind me; a large glass of Aperol and soda by my side, the world passes by. I gaze longingly at shop windows just to wear normal clothes again rather than my "prison fatigues" of dark blue t-shirt and shorts.

In two hours time I will be in bed, up at 5am to set out for Santhia, 25 miles to the south and break the back of the journey before the heat of the day takes a hold.

If I had the chance, it would be nice to linger here for a day; just as it would have been nice to do the same in Aosta but a pilgrimage is a relentless task master, driving you ever on until you reach your final goal which, in my case, is of course Rome. I will not hide that I am now very tired, 853 miles over 8 weeks and a steady climb over ten days to 8,000 feet and a drop in one day down to 1,500 feet I guess would catch up on most people. It is sheer bloody minded determination that drives me on. But to be here, in Italy, in Ivrea is wonderful nevertheless.

Last night I slept in Pont St Martin, a town dominated, as the name suggests, by a single span Roman bridge dating back to the first century BC. This enormous structure is still in use today.

I spent most of that day getting very wet while enjoying castle after castle that protect the valley on intermittent headlands. I sheltered from the worst of the tempests variously in a cave, under a tree and finally a rock. Somewhere amongst all the drippery I sat in a dead rat - much scrubbing of rucksack today as a result.

Two days and I reach Vercelli, on the rice plains, and a day off: well as much as you have days off in Pilgrimville which are more preoccupied washing and planning than putting your feet up, but whatever, I'll drink to that...

Photos: dog of the day; Ivrea rooftops; Pont St Martin at night; Aosta valley castle and "the road to Ivrea".

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