A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

Category Archives: Italy

We spent the last two days in the idyllic Il Colombaio B&B resting, eating excellent food paired with the most amazing organic wines (we actually splurged on shipping 12 bottles to Canada!!) and getting a tour of the cellars.

If you are ever in Tuscany, I cannot recommend this place enough. The hospitality we received from the owners was truly remarkable. This, in contrast with the other ‘hotels’ CaminoWays had chosen for us. I won’t go into any details but for anyone wishing to walk the Via Francigena path, something that we found healing in so many ways, do organize the trip yourself. You will not only save money but quite a few frustrations along the way.

This being said, we left this morning with blistered feet that had not yet healed, tight calves and some trepidations with walking the last 21 km with temperatures rising once more in the 27-28 degrees range.

As we were leaving the town, and starting toward our endpoint, the view of Monteriggioni was breathtaking; the curvature of the stone walls espousing the natural curvature of the valley. Do note, however, that the medieval town is quite small so it is not worth a long stay-over unless you find the perfect hideaway :).

I don’t know if it was because we could see the end, or that we had shed off many worries along the way, or again that we had started singing (quite off-key… maybe that’s why we heard so many dogs barking along the way?), but our speed was phenomenal. We were walking each kilometre a good three minutes less than any other part of the trail, even the easier one between San Gimignano and Colle Val d’Elsa.

We didn’t even need to rest, eating half a protein bar around kilometre 11 while walking and sipping water here and then. Arriving in Siena was exciting as we remembered the time we had come as a family, lugging our huge backpacks from the train station up into the medieval town, arriving in time for the Christmas fair in Piazza del Campo.

I am happy to have completed our ‘pilgrimage’ and having walked all 133 kilometres without faltering. We talked of past travels, we make plans for future travels, we sang, Justin danced (because that’s what he does!) but we also walked in silence each taking stock of our lives. It was a beautiful healing journey.

Thank you Via Francigena, you’ve been most wonderful!

A tribute to all pilgrims of the Via Francigena

As we were checking out this morning, we were told that instead of walking on the road under the hot sun, we could follow the Sentier’Elsa, a 3 km wooden path following the Elsa River which leads directly to Via Francigena, bypassing the alternative yellow pilgrim route. We were more than glad not to follow a street where you have a foot at best on each side and where cars love to race through every hairpin turn of the road. But giving a paper map to Justin and me is like giving a squirrel a bottle of water. The squirrel has no more opposable thumbs than we have directional DNA in our body. In the small town of Val d’Elsa, it took us three tries to make it out towards the Sentier’Elsa. It reaffirmed our conviction that we could simply not make it on shows like The Amazing Race. Not that we do not have the strength or stamina for it, but our sense of direction would prevent us from even arriving at the first stop.

In any case, following the River was the best suggestion we had gotten this far regarding this pilgrimage path.

The blue of the river was surreal and the path was a wonderful cool respite from the hot Tuscan road. After about 8 kilometres, we found a nice coffee shop in the town of Strove where we met a Californian couple also walking part of the trail. It was so nice to interact in English and laugh about our experiences. I usually prefer my solitude, but for some reason, I loved exchanging with this couple. We even met them up a little later down the road and we walked a good 5 km with them chatting the whole way through, not even seeing the time pass. They also travelled quite a bit and they just loved hearing our funny stories from India and elsewhere around the world.

We are now in the Monteriggioni region in a local vineyard that is absolutely┬ámagnificent. What could be better than to be surrounded by wine and the Tuscan hills? I can’t wait to have a tour of the whole vineyard tomorrow. See for yourself!

Not sure I ever want to leave this paradise… Anyone want to rent a really nice condo in the Glebe? It comes with an 18-year-old who eats like 5 but works long hours on the job, so really not much maintenance. Oh, also a black cat who may or may not be a wizard…