Finally we find Signora in the outside kitchen and maybe things will move along now. We sit down at the table and she starts bringing in the usual pre-package buns etc. Then Signor appears and he brings bread and freshly squeezed orange juice and caffe americano. After breakfast we go into the outdoor kitchen and they stamp our credentials, while we give him the money, 50E plus $30E for the meal, which we are okay with. Then he informs us that he wants to accompany us for the first while to show us how the trail goes through the forest and along the river. Right away I start to get bad vibes about this but being Canadian we say okay. There is no rain coming down, yet. Off we go at a quick pace, he in front and us behind. Into the woods and then the rain starts. Pretty soon he us getting real wet and then while it is pouring down he gives us instructions not to take the first bridge but to take the second. Handshakes all around, axrrivaderchi. On go the ponchos, now we really in for it. Rain pouring down on a forest path with the odd VF sticker wrapped around a tree branch. The ponchos getting caught on the bushes, all the while we are trying to stay on the trail with the forest floor/trail covered in fallen leaves. We did come to a bridge. It was on the trail and no other bridge in sight, over we go. No harm done we navigate through the woods and finally pop out on to a road with a big brown Via Francigena sign pointed to the right. We have never trusted these political motivated signs but in a weak moment we turn right. Perhaps it was the rain. Perhaps it was me having what might be called an off day, heaven knows there have been a few. In my defence it was raining and we knew we had a terribly late start and wanted to make time. We did see red/white trail indicators every so often. Finally in a couple if kilometres the sky started to clear and I had a bad feeling that the sun was in the wrong spot. Maybe it was just my imagination because there were the markers. Finally we stopped and realized the red/white markers were not the VF at all. Back we go with an increased rate of speed. This I am sure is a character flaw whenever I know I have screwed up, I increase the pace. In what seemed like no time, the three kilometres we walked from the turn have been erased and we are back at the big brown sign with the arrow. Now that the rain has stopped we realize that sign is for people walking from Rome. It was hours after this that I still wanted to go back and tear that sign down with my bare hands. We looked left and there it was, a VF marker indicating that we should go that way. I really don't understand why in the last few days the marking has been so bad and so close to Rome. We never did like the big brown signage put up by people who don't walk. All we want are the red/white VF indicators put up at regular intervals like they have been for weeks. I really wanted to see the volcanic rock amphitheatre etc. hollowed out of the volcanic rock, but the best we could do is view it going by and get one picture. The distance today was approximately 30k. Now with the screwup it is 36k and to top it off we had a very late start and it is raining. This is really starting to look like another, dig deep day. Thankfully at this stage we are conditioned and can increase the pace. Off we go, no stopping along the way until the 15k mark with a stop at a bar for iced tea and a sandwich. Then it is back out knowing that dark comes in quickly with the time change and overcast sky. The woods trails seemed to be getting harder to see the footing but finally we looked up and there on top of another hill, is our town. We have done it again. Like C says, thankfully this has happened at the end of our pilgrimage when we are better conditioned. We found our hotel on the usual fourth asking of directions to it and the room is very comfortable and the heat is on. We are staying at the hotel restaurante Benigni on via Della Vittoria. Not many pictures taken due to the rain or my mood or just the time factor.
Did we learn anything from today, yes. If one has the opportunity to tear down a big brown Via Francigena sign that points the wrong way, just do it.