Saturday, 21 September 2013

Day 12 - Santhia to Vercelli 25.7 km

Saturday 21st September 

walking through mostly unshaded farmlands along gravel paths - mostly crops, rice and some dairy farms.
The farm buildings here are huge! must be to store fodder and house livestock over winter... There are snow and Ice signs on the roads, I guess it must snow here in Winter, hard to believe now though, when its 25 degrees in Autumn!

managed to lose the markers this morning on the way to San Germano, luckily we still arrived on a parallel path... markers could definitely be improved from Santhia through the farmlands.

Stopped off at San Germano for our Café doppio and, just across the piazza is a Paneteria, (Church, bar for coffee and Paneteria all in the one Piazza! very convenient!) so we get some fresh tomato and pepperoni topped focaccia for breaky too! a very social gathering at the busy Paneteria this morning...
A dear old lady sitting at the bar having a Café told me I had lovely eyes! 😊 We were the source of some curiosity and chat...

My feet are swelling after only a couple of hours of walking, don't know why... didn't happen to me on the last few long walks - but lately it just gets too painful after a couple of hours so, we decide to catch the train to Vercelli from San Germano so I can buy a larger size of boots...  only miss out on more walking through crops, about 12 km -  no villages between San Germano and Vercelli.

We find our accommodation in Vercelli, about 20 min walk from the train station. Mostly along lovely shady avenues, perfect for walking and cycling.

The Convent of Billiemme is lovely, very welcoming - and a little quirky! 
After unloading our packs, working out the what we do, and the rules ( must be inside by 9pm) we set off to check out some of the sights in the Centro Old city, Piazzas and find me some new boots! ( so much to see in Vercelli - not enough time to see all the amazing buildings and museums)

San Cristoforo (also called Vercelli's Sistine Chapel) full of paintings, walls and ceilings from the 1500s  The frescos are by Gaudenzio Ferrari. Just amazing! I can't imagine how it's physically possible to paint the ceilings so beautifully...  and have the overall whole finished painting in your head, while working on the details...
Thes photos don't do the artwork justice... (due to the limited skill and talents of the photographer sadly) 
So much to,take in!
The lovely streets of Old Vercelli

Piazza Cavour- the old Roman forum, people starting to come out after their lunch and snooze for Passiagata - all the shops start opening again at 3 or 4 pm. We stop for a drink and some people watching..

Basilica of Sant Andrea - the cloister
Basilica of Sant Andrea - inside
Everyone cycles in Italy!

A variety of transport options- I think I like the blue Vespa!

Not a great variety of choice in sports stores in the centro of Vercelli, I finally settle on a pair of white men's Nike joggers - my feet are too big for the ladies shoes here!
Had Pizza at a local pizzeria, and I caused lots of hilarity and gales of laughter trying to work out how to say "onion" in Italiano 😄 cipolla - pronounced "chipolla"
view from our room in the Convent Billiemme
Inside the church of the Convent Billieme
Quite a lovely serene feeling to this church.

Off to try out my new boots walking to Robbio tomorrow!

Our Accommodation in Vercelli
Convent of Billiemme 
Address: Corso Alessandro Salamano, 139 
Phone: 0161 250167 
Type: Hostel religious 
Open: All year round 
Price: 10 €, accommodation, breakfast 
Number of places: 10 

Friends of the Via Francigena - Vercelli website (also has large accommodation and dining list for pilgrims)
Gianfranco Musso
Mobile: 340 6937568
Dino Olivetta
Mobile: 338 6177070
Franco Conti
Mobile: 340 8052277 


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