Day 53 – Tuesday, September 24 – Aulla to Castlenuova Magra – 29km
While I swapped the mattress, there was still no support from the bed springs, so the better mattress sunk in the middle. It was a not a great sleep, but I know it was way better than it would have been.
I woke up at 5:30 and knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. My roomies got up at 6:30, so I started getting ready. I ate two bananas and two clementines and was on my way about 7:20. I poked my head in the guys room and it was cleared out. I was one of the last ones to leave.
The forecast was for no rain, but it was completely foggy. I headed across a bridge and it was immediately up the mountain side. It was quite steep.
I caught up to Fausto. He started in Milan, so he hasn’t had many days in the mountains.
I also caught up to Marlise and Bert, which surprised me. They are heading to Cinque Terre today. I asked how many days they were spending there, and it’s just two. I had googled, and apparently you can walk the whole thing in 6 hours. I wish I had done more research, because I totally could have fit it in. When people were telling me, for some reason I was thinking that Cinque meant it would take 5 days to do. Oh well. Next time I come to Italy.
We got above the fog and had a lovely view looking back down over the valley. So awesome.
But even from here, there was still more up to go.
There are these little mountain towns on the tops of hills and mountains. They all look super cool.
The path wound around the side of the mountain, until it got to a place where it crossed over to the other side, and it was down into another valley.
The main complaint about today is there were very few opportunities for a clear view. Too many trees in the way. But the views I did have were pretty spectacular.
I thought today was pretty intense. It was 600m of gain in 7.5 km. But I loved it. I love hiking in the mountains so much.
On the other side it started as a gentle descent with a gravel road. I was hoping it would go all the way down, but no. There was a lot of steep, rocky descent as well. But it was ok. My knee seems to be doing ok today.
There were also very few views of this other valley, but I did get one really good one all the way to the coast. That’s the ocean! That’s also where Cinque Terre is. Somewhere down there.
The path went through the ruins of an old medieval castle that they had excavated and posted signs saying what things were. That was kinda cool.
But it was a long walk down. It was also only about 17k, which was very nice. But my feet hurt and I was ready to stop. I was thinking how most of these walks are mental. If you’re planning on a 30k day then you can do it. If you’re planning on a 17k day, then find out you have to walk more, you won’t want to do it, because your feet are ready to stop.
I got to Sarzana right as the bells chimed noon. I was hoping I would still be able to catch someone and check in. There was no one at the church, so I called the number. The guy didn’t speak English or French. He said to check in at 3:30 or 4. I tried to ask if there was any way to check in earlier, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. The language barrier is difficult.
So I went to find lunch and try to decide what I wanted to do. I had really been hoping for a short day and a nice afternoon of resting. If I’m spending all afternoon waiting to check in, that’s not resting.
I found a pizza place and got the worst pizza I’ve had so far. I think it was the tomato sauce. It was way too salty, and I think it was canned. It just didn’t taste anything like the other pizza I’ve had. I hope this is not a new trend.
I spent the whole time on booking trying to figure out where to go. It took me too long to decide because I was very tired as well. But I really didn’t want to wait till 4, then still have 30k to go tomorrow, possibly in the rain.
I found a place kind of close to the Via for 35E. Not bad. I decided to go for it.
I also decided to mostly follow the Via instead of just taking the main road.
There was a really cool fortress inside the town.
Just outside of the town was another really cool fortress that looked very similar.
Other than that, there seemed to be nothing special about taking the Via.
This part of Italy does look very different. There are lots more olive trees around.
I was drinking a ton of water because of the salty pizza, and it was hot, but as much as I drank I didn’t have to pee, because I was retaining everything due to the salt. And I kind of felt crappy for having to walk so far after eating lunch. I was getting a stitch in my side.
But I made it to the hotel about 4 pm. I don’t like arriving that late at an ostello, but it’s different if it’s a private room in a hotel. Then it’s not so bad. Plus now I only have 14-17k to go tomorrow.
There are some disadvantages. I don’t spend the evening and dinner with other pilgrims. But it’s ok. And hopefully I’ll be able to find a place to eat dinner. I’m not really in a walker friendly area.
But I am tired, so I’m looking forward to some hopefully better sleep.
I went to the restaurant around the corner, Palomita Blanca. I had the menu touristico. Farfalle pasta with vegetables, so very good. Then grilled meat and a salad. There was a bit lost in translation. I had a choice between potatoes, tomatoes, or salad. But I thought it was tomato salad, so that’s what I said, and she focused on the salad part instead of the tomatoes. It was still good. Then I had dessert. When she said they had cheesecake for an option, I just had to try it. Foreign cheesecakes are usually very unlike American cheesecakes. This was amazing. It was incredibly light and fluffy. My dad would have approved. Cheesecake was his favorite.
Today is one month until I’m on a plane home. The countdown begins. In a way it seems like forever, since that means I’m only 2/3 done. But I’m more than 2/3 done with my walk, so that helps. One day at a time.