Day 47 – Wednesday, 18 September – Fiorenzuola d’Arda to Costamezzana – 30k
The next stage in the book is to Fidenza, which is 22k. The stage after that is 34k and ascends 600m and descends 530m. With some looking, I realized I could do ~ 34 the first day and stay relatively flat, then do 20k the next day with the hills. Seemed like a good idea.
Then last night looking at the weather it said it was going to start raining around 10 and rain all day. Yuck. 30k in the rain.
I was looking on maps.me to try to figure out how far it was really going to be, but when I told it to find a route, it went south of where the Via went, and it looked like it saved me 6k! With the long day and the threat of rain, I decided to take the alternate route.
Then I saw pictures that Jean Luc had posted of an abbey, so I was kind of bummed I would miss that. It’s 6k after Fiorenzuola, so I could go there, then re-route and still save 3k, but it didn’t open until 8:30 and I didn’t want to leave that late. So I just decided to skip it.
I ate some fruit for breakfast that I’d bought the night before. I bought two oranges and two bananas. The oranges weren’t very good.
I was on my way at 6:40, NOT going on the Via. I went south out of town and through a small industrial area. There was a Cargill plant, and it even smells the same. I wonder if they use the same processes or if they have to change anything, being in Europe. I am curious. Then across a bridge, with the mountains in front of me! How exciting. I really hope my ankle does ok.
I followed the road for a while, and then I saw markings for the VF! It turns out this other route used to be the VF, but they re-routed it north for some reason. Maybe just for the abbey?
And it took me on gravel roads! I really liked today. It made me strangely happy to see the old VF signs. Even though I didn’t see anyone else all day, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. When I saw the routing south on my map, I knew I probably wasn’t the first to take the shorter route, and now I know for sure that I wasn’t!
I did meet a lot of friendly locals. Maybe they miss seeing pilgrims. There was a guy out walking his schnauzer on the gravel road, and when he saw me coming he leashed him, but then I asked if I could pet him and he took he leash off. Very friendly puppy! I need to try to video chat with Maddie sometime.
I really enjoyed the walk today, and it seemed to go quickly. It was only 17k to Fidenza (instead of 22) and I got in a little after 10. I just happened to see the tourism office, which had a very convenient public bathroom!
Then I asked her to help me make reservations for tomorrow and Friday. Yay! Such a help.
I went to see the Cathedral, and I have to say, it’s the oddest cathedral I’ve ever seen. The sculptures were.. Sumerian? Babylonian? There’s another one it probably is but i can’t think of the name. Just so incredibly odd for a cathedral!
I still had 11k to go after leaving town, and I thought for sure I was going to get wet at some point. But there was barely any wind, so if the rain was coming, it was coming slowly.
I went straight along the main road instead of going off to the side, which saved me another k.
I was feeling pretty good about this whole shortcut thing. I was approaching a town, but my map routed me past it through a field. Was there any reason to go to the town? I didn’t think so. So I went through the field. It was pretty!
After I reconnected with the Via, the road went through a lovely wooded area, then started climbing up a long hill. Without any wind, I started sweating a lot. I’m finally back in the hills!
So I got to where my map said Costamezzana was, and it seemed realllllly small. So I typed in the address of the ostello, only to find that it was back in that town I had bypassed. Apparently that was Costamezzana, and where I was was the old castle. It took about 20 mins to go back, the whole mistake costing me an extra 3k. Sigh. I really should input the address earlier.
At least it wasn’t raining!
As I got to the ostello, I saw the door was open and I climbed the steps. I started to say hi to the man at the door, but he got all upset and said, “no, no,” and pointed toward town. The language barrier isn’t helpful.
So, confused, I went to town. I found the restaurant that was listed as having a pilgrim menu, so I went in. I wanted to eat, but I wanted to know about the ostello! Thankfully a kind man named Oliver knew some English. He pointed across the street and said I had to get a key there, then sleep in the ostello. That made sense. I had to register and pay at this other place first. But first, lunch!
He said they had tuna and tomato pasta, and I said yes. It was the same food the staff was eating. I will just eat whatever they give me. It was actually really good.
He brought out a book for me to sign, for when he feeds pilgrims. It’s in a date book, so you sign on the day you eat.
He only charged me 5 E for the food, and asked if I would be back tonight. Absolutely!
I went across the street and tried to ring the bell, but no one came. Oliver called to me from across the street, with a phone in his hand, saying he was calling. He told her I was at the door then waved goodbye. It’s so nice to meet so many helpful people!
It was 13E for the bed. I gave her 15, but she didn’t have enough change. I emptied my pockets, but I only had 2.96, which she said was close enough.
So far I’m in a room by myself. They have actual sheets to put on the bed, which I’m excited about, but the bed itself is pretty hard. I also gathered by what she said that I have to be gone by 8. That’s fine, except now with the rain being put off, I think it will be raining in the morning. Just as long as it doesn’t rain all day!
So at the beginning of the day I thought my ankle was doing really well, but then I had to go down a long hill and it really started to hurt. I really hope everything is ok. Tomorrow could be interesting.
Veronica from the Czech Republic showed up about 6:30. We went to dinner about 7:30. We sat down and the server told us the cook was making us a special menu and to just trust it. My favorite kind of meal!
It was excellent. Fresh pasta with a meat ragu, then a roast beef salad. That’s the most meat I’ve had in a pilgrim meal. They know how to feed pilgrims!