A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

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…

 

Colle Val d’Elsa is off the Via Francigena official route. One must take an alternative route shown by yellow pilgrims toward the Valley of Elsa. The path was beautiful and flat compared to previous hikes, but the directions were less than clear and we wondered more than once if we had made a wrong turn on this path which bears the colour of insanity.

Through forest, vineyard lanes, dirt roads and highways, we arrived to the valley. As Justin’s eye caught a glimpse of a Turkish sign for kebabs at the town’s entry, he almost ran to the shop, salivating at the prospect of a shawarma. I was more than happy to grab my book and continue reading about the murder in Chianti which I wanted to finish with a glass from the Chianti we purchased in San Gimignano (which I did… ­čÖé ). We do love Italian food, but our North American stomachs are just not used to this much pasta and wine. Ok, wine is not exactly a must, but it accompanies every dish so well that it is just impossible to deny ourselves (but, maybe a glass or two would be enough… Nah).┬á

In any case, after we regaled ourselves with kebab meat and the apt detective skills of the Tuscan carabinieri, we went on to visit the old inner medieval city which was quite beautiful and even more special without the droves of tourists.

We found many quaint shops selling goods made on-premises. There are even glass blowing masters in this town and demonstrations are just as astounding as the ones on Murano island.

This little valley of Elsa and its medieval town on the hill is a delightful stop and I would say one not to be missed when in Tuscany.

 

*And a special thought goes out to our 1st Canadian National Day for Truth and Reconciliation*