Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Day 23 Pontremoli to Aulla 32 km

Wednesday 2nd October Day 23 Pontremoli to Aulla 32 km  

The sun is shining!
After a CaffĂ© in the Piazza del Duomo in Pontrelomli and checking out the local Wednesday morning markets- look at the size of these Parmesan wheels! we head off and...
We made the mistake today of thinking the VF  bike section, was a bike path... but no, it's the cycling route along roads, so from Pontremoli to Villafranca-in-Lunigiana we walked along country roads... yep, you're right, pretty boring... and why??? did we make that choice???
Yep... to take what seemed to be the easy way because we were a little bit tired - and learn (relearn) some life lessons!
We walked along the bike riders route alongside the roads during the morning to cut off a few KMs, not a terribly good decision, makes for fairly monotonous walking, and there are no paths or verges for most of the way.
 My lesson for today? 
Taking what seems to be the easiest way can lead to a boring, barren and unenlightening experience! I need to be prepared to take what might on the surface appear to be a more challenging path- it will lead to more diverse and enriching life!
we arrived in Villafranca at 12:15, had pranzo then rejoined the walking path of the VF,  the guide says lots of ups and downs! Almost immediately we are rewarded by walking through the  intriguing village of Virgoletta! Complete with narrow streets lined with stone houses, with old stone town walls,
 curious alleyways
the VF trail takes us through  ancient stone archways
And through to a natural spring, the locals come and fill up their bottles for drinking and cooking water.
Of course, I need to have a drink too!

View looking back towards Virgoletta from the natural spring.
Onwards along scenic shady paths (so much nicer than tarmac roads!)
Past vineyards- the style of trellising has been different for the last couple of days, the vines are trained upwards up on what looks like tree branch off cuts.
We walk for some time along remnants of Roman roads.
Oops, a bit of mud....
creeks, cascades,
stone arched bridges, birds singing in the trees! what joy to be off the roads!
I love the stone arched bridges! I imagine these old paths were once a very important and the only link between small villages 
The last few KMs of the VF today after the forest paths were challenging again, steep, muddy and a bit overgrown. Then we had about 4km of suburban roads, some with no pedestrian access to walk along into Aulla. Sadly, a very uninspiring entry into the town... Finally we arrive at the pilgrim accommodation and pilgrim museum at the Abbizia Di San Caprasio. The museum is fascinating!

Aulla has suffered a series of disasters, during the Second World War, it was extensively bombed by the USA as it was a strategic area and base for German soldiers, most of the old town was destroyed. then a couple of years ago, a massive flood swept through the river bed, wreaking havoc and destruction throughout the town. There are amazing photos in the museum.
One of the few remaining old town alleyways of Aulla below.
Pizza tonight, the owners of the pizzeria insist the Australians also try some farinata (a flat chickpea flour dish) straight from the woodfired oven, delicious!
Our accommodation for tonight -  (good accommodation, with good showers and bathrooms)
Abbey of St. Caprasio - Aulla 
Address: Abbey Square, Pontremoli 
Phone: 0187 420148 - 339 6380331 
Email: ;
Type: Hostel parish 
Agent: Don Giovanni 
Price: OFFER - donation
Number of places: 15 
Use of kitchen: NO

The Brunella Fortress
Address: Park La Brunella - Aulla
Phone: 0187 409077
Type: Religious Structure
Price: from 10 to 15 euro, depends on the period
Number of seats: 4

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