Ecumenical Pilgrimage - Costamezzana - Wild Plums and Tame Peaches

A fierce wind blew through last night, wash ing away the pitter-patter of rain drops on the roof of the camper. We woke up actu ally able to see the scenery around us—and it was gor geous! We are up in the Apen nines now with great val leys beneath us and lit tle tiny stone villages.

We got dropped off again in Siviz zano and worked our way back up the hills again, along a not-too-sticky path through the fields, ford ing a cou ple of streams and cross ing one a real bridge. Before long we were away from towns and fields alto gether, fol low ing for est paths. It was truly lovely. Some times old stone walls lined the way, sprout ing pur ple hare bells and rose bushes bare of every thing but the bril liant red rose hips. We found some ripe black ber ries and tiny wild plums only the size of a blue berry. One moun tain top was all pines, with soft nee dles under foot and that whoosh ing sound you get only in all-evergreen forests. A vil lager chat ted with us (inso far as we chat in our strange pid gin of Ital ian, French, and Span ish) and gave us peaches off his tree.

The path was also unusu ally well-market, not only with stick ers but with stone posts in the ground each sport ing a ceramic frieze of Sigeric the Seri ous. Between the off-road scenery and the mark ing, our faith in the Via Fran ci gena has been restored. It’s amaz ing what a dif fer ence it makes to get away from cars and cities—and even the few times we were on the roads, there were hardly any cars to speak of. Alto­gether it’s amaz ing to me how much the dif fi culty of transportation-by-foot has come to dom i nate our pil grim age expe ri ence. Luther cer tainly wouldn’t want to have avoided many roads and large towns! To us they’re the bane of our existence.

It was quite a lot uphill—and quite a lot down hill, which is even slower going when it’s steep and slippery—but it made us that nice kind of tired from fresh air and chal leng ing exer cise, not the manic exhaus ta tion of bat tling city traf fic and breath ing the smoggy air. And it was no small mat ter that there was no rain today!

Tonight we are stay ing in a pil grim hos tel occu py ing an unused sem i nary, back from the days when every dio cese was required to have its own school for train ing priests. The facil ity is quite enor mous; we’re just stay ing on one edge of it. Tomor row it’s another 900 m up and even more down over 28 km, so it’s time for another solid 8½ hours of sleep to gear us up for the day ahead.