Saturday, 28 July 2012

Meetings, meetings, meetings!

On the map, I am now at Siena; in reality I am staying in a little hamlet called Monte Benichi about 20 km away high in the Tuscan hills. A quiet retreat to rest up with friends, Richard Fremantle and Barbara Hieronymous. A chance for complaining feet to remind themselves of what life used to be like in the old times.

It has been a right cocktail party of a time this last period as I caught up with Helene Spanneut, also on her way to Rome, and Brian and Gail Mooney.

Brian's account of his walk to Rome, "A Long Way for a Pizza" - published earlier this year, you would think would have sated his desire to walk - at least for a bit; but no, he is now embarking on the Wrong Way for a Pizza: walking from Rome to London.

Brian's progress is a royal affair with all the pomp and ceremony of a Papal Nuncio's cavalcade as he moves with speed and grace from palazzo to Castello and the finest hotels of Europe. Gail, who has her head well screwed on, joined him for the Tuscan phase - most of which she saw from train and taxi while Brian flailed over hill and down Tuscan dale. She didn't go to Oxford for nothing.

I had, however, to keep an eye on Brian as I could see he had taken a shine to my stick; it would suitably complement the rambler look that he has, after many years, perfected with a sort of Tom Jones affectation giving off "wild man of the woods" vibes - until that is he dons his sun hat which would look good on Weymouth beach, but on the Via Francigena, that fashion central, well, let's just say the jury is still out.

Since I last wrote, I have passed through San Miniato - home to the Bonaparte family- San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, got lost in the woods of Montagnola and, yesterday afternoon, as I walked into Siena, saw the first road sign for Rome which more than put a lump in my throat.

Tomorrow, I will stay in Siena before the final ten day non-stop push - all aboard please for the Pilgrim Express!

Pictures: sun hat; the sensible one; San Miniato tower; San Gimignano; Montereggioni (in the woods).

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