During a very relaxing day in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Marlies joined. We drank wine and ate pizza, life was good. The next day we took the train back to Aulla to start hiking up the Apennines via the Via Francigena, to the Cisa Pass (Passo della Cisa).
Rain was in the air. It took a while, but then it was released in a wet fashion. We tried to take shelter under a gate. That’s when a farmer came by and beckoned us to come along. We could take shelter in his house. We were put in this cute and tiny room, where we dried ourselves. He than had his wife come over to make coffee (He himself was incapable of making good coffee, he said) and he then showed us his wine shed, where he makes his own wine and sausages. We confirmed that we loved wine, too. And he rinsed an old whiskey bottle and filled it up with his own wine. The sun started shining again and we made our way to Pontremoli. Pontremoli is a beautiful town. We had some good aperitivi downtown and slept at a convent.
Because of the rain and being really early in the season, locals had advised against taking the old mule tracks, which would be muddy, slippy and dangerous. Instead, they advised us to just take the road up. There would be almost no cars. And they were right. It actually was quite a nice hike up. Not too much rain and not too much cars. Until we were almost at the top and the rain started again. We took shelter at a small bar and were lucky we did so, because the bar we were aiming for -at the top of the pass- turned out to be closed. We drank loads of coffee and wine until we thought it dry enough to continue. We slept at a beautiful pilgrim’s hostel in the middle of nowhere.
The next day, down was the way to go. We followed the road a bit down, until it crossed the Via Francigena again. The other pilgrims we met, told us it was too muddy, not good for girls, we should just take the road. Well, if those old grey men could do it, these ‘girls’ certainly could. And we could.
We made it to Berceto. Where we had a short break near the old church, Duomo di San Moderanno. It was already founded in the 8th century (719 AD). The church has been important for pilgrims ever since, which is shown by the many pilgrim figures on the facade and a pilgrim statue right next to the church. After Berceto we enjoyed the little roads until we made it to Cassio.
From Cassio, the next day, we had some hard, technical descends until we got to easier asphalt roads taking us down to Fornovo. We saw plenty of deer, rabbits and even a family of boars in the distance.
That night we made took a train to Parma, to watch the finish of that stage of the Mille Miglia. The Mille Miglia is race for race cars from 1927-1957. They start in Brescia, and in four days make a tour through Italy and return to Brescia. We waited at the Parma cathedral to watch the finish. Gorgeous cars with often peculiar drivers. How come I haven’t heard of this race before? It was epic!
And then Marlies already left. The part with the Apennines was over and the pianura del Po started. Plain, flat land for a few weeks, like Holland. I think I can get used to that.