Our stay at the Albergo La Verna, right on the path to the Santuario, was a great prelude to our first day walking the Way of St. Francis. Our lodging was clean and quiet and the food was great. But, that is the part about the body that fades with time. The real joy that followed was simply being somewhere where St. Francis also set foot. So after a delightful breakfast we shifted into the full pilgrim mode, and set out up the steep path to the Santuario from where we would officially set out. The wind was up, but the rain held off, and we felt great elation as body and soul, once again found common ground in this place of peace. Bird song and the music of wind in the trees kept us company as we made our way out of the Santuario and set off for the small town of Pieve Santo Stefano, our destination for today, 16 kms uphill and then down into a valley. Temperatures were in the upper 50’s F to the mid 60’s, and the path was damp but not too muddy. We just reveled in the beauty and clicked off the kilometers as the day slipped past. The Appenine mountains are indeed beautiful. The early part of the the day was spent ascending so great views were abundant. As Robin and I made our way along we wondered what St. Francis was thinking about as he walked along these same paths. As a man who appreciated nature I feel certain that whatever was on his mind he too would have had many moments where he just reveled in the beauty set around him. How could he not. We arrived in San Stefano at 2 pm, and checked into the hotel of the same name. We saw no one today, but a few pilgrims have now checked into our hotel. Day one has shown us that this is a quiet route (thank God) and my guess is that those walking it will tend to be of a quieter nature as well. But, I must say that today was simply a gorgeous walk. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. St. Francis pray for us.
|Leaving the Santuario|