Sunday, October 20, 2013

Walking with Angels. San Miniato to Gambassi Terme

C and I went down to the dining room at 7pm. Oops no one there. Went back again at 8pm and that was the right time. We had copious amounts of chianti, pork roast, vegetables and fruit for desert, as well as soup to start with. Again, C is the only female. There were four monks, Michelle the pellegrini from France and us. The monks know no English so most of the conversation is in French. They talked about Napoleon Bonapart whose family came from here etc.. After dinner I asked if we could see the church which is attached to the convent. Words cannot describe the vastness of height and overall size of the sanctuary. The huge paintings and the huge altar. I felt I could not take any pictures while we were being shown, but it was awesome. After he took us down into the lower section of the convent and talked about military. There was a large room with brick pillars. It is too bad we don't know the Italian language because I know he was showing something he was very proud of. This place must have been something when it was full of oeople. The dining room where we ate had tables and chairs set up for perhaps a hundred people. This is another stop that we will surely remember. Woke up this morning to a strange sound outside, perhaps just the wind. No, it wasn't just the wind. Opening the shutters, it is absolutely pouring rain with the wind blowing. Claud she heard the thunder in the night and here we were trying to dry out our boots for today. It will be a long day today in the rain. We don't have any food stored for along the way and it doesn't look like we are near any towns. We may have to snag a bread or two at breakfast. No one said this was going to be easy.
Where does one start when you have put in such a tough day. We are snug in a room in Gambassi Terme at 2:30pm. It all started when during the night we heard rain coming down and thunder. Woke up and opened the shutters to a torrential rain coming down with thunder. Went down at 8am(these type of places have the meals at precisely the time they are supposed to be) and they had coffee and bread out for us. We tied into it as we knew there was no food along the way. Michelle was there but said he would wait until 10 am to see if the rain let up. We left at 8:30am with our ponchos on and our dry boots. It thundered and lightening with a heavy rain until about 1pm. We gave up trying to keep the boots dry and just walked through rivers of water coming down the roads and paths. The clay based soil turned paths into rivers of brown mud flooding any low spots. We could hear the rushing sound of the water as the ditches filled with the fast flowing water. We could see in the valleys how the water was flooding the low lying roads. We walked steady just trying to put in as many kilometres as we could knowing that if we came to a river or creek it could very easily be overflowing and impassible. At around 1pm we came to a highway and realized we are getting close to Gambassi. We stopped at a bar along the road and showed a young woman the paper we had with our accomodation on it. She informs us that it is closed now but there is another in town. She phones and phones, no answer. Then she says just go into town, they will have a room, it is right across from the farmacia. So we get into town find the pharmacy and the owner is sweeping the water out of his store. He points across the road and we get there but there is no answer at the door. Just then a young woman pulls up in a car and tells us that even though we don't have a reservation, we can have a room. It turns out that it is closed today because it is Monday but she just stopped by to make a coffee for herself. She offers us a coffee and we sit there chatting away. We are starting now to feel the cold and wet since the water has been well over our boots for the past five hours. She shows us to our room and says she will be back at 7pm to register with the passports.
No pictures today. I couldn't bring the iPad out in that rain and the camera is trashed. We had thunder and lightening sometimes so close it was like a gun going off near us. We haven't seen a thunder storm like that since we lived on the prairies.
We couldn't walk with our heads down because we couldn't miss one of the trail markers. Hour after hour we skidded up and down the clay trails. I would be up front and I would yell back to C. Are you okay? The reply always came back, yes. I don't think there are many women of any age that would have wanted to be out there with a pack on and not knowing where they even are.
Went out at 5:30pm when the rain stopped to get a picture or two. Little store opened for supplies for breakfast and a beer and a donut for now. When the shop owner learned we were pilgrims he gave us some bread for free. We ran into a young Frenchman walking from Rome. When we talked to him he said he was looking for a place to stay but only for donativo, so he was going to try the place down the road that we were told was closed. You have to be young to travel like that. He had no goretex but just an umbrella.
In the last place you could sit on the toilet and brush your teeth. At this place you can sit on the toilet and have a shower.
What never ceases to amaze me is the age of these churches. This one in Gambassi Terme is from the twelve century and in fact Segeric listed this stop as his 20th stage from Rome in 990. This town is also known for its spa and healing waters. Looking in the church, the use of marble is outstanding. The altar and lecturn are made beautifully done in marble. The very high ceiling in the church is made with heavy wooden beams not unlike others that were constructed by persons familiar with ship building.
If you really want to know a country, walk through it. Great pasta meal tonight with our standard half litre of red wine, and it was good. Wet boots were stuffed with newspaper earlier but are now just open  for drying.

No comments:

Post a Comment