Musing on Lumbardy
The happy prospect of fin ish ing by lunchtime today after a mere 16.4 km inspired us to get out of bed not too long after the alarm went off, aided shortly after ward by the church bells ring ing 7. (We were extremely relieved to dis cover that the sen si ble Chris tians in Italy don’t ring the hours through the night so you can actu ally sleep if you’re near the church, unlike cer tain other Chris tians north of the Alps we could men tion.) At the bak ery a help ful clerk guided us through our break fast pur chases and proudly bestowed on us the 10% pil grim discount.
It was a pleas ant enough morning’s walk, with a pale sun behind the fog and lots of dew on the grass. Although most every thing is still green, there is a def i nite autum nal field about the coun try side. The rice and corn har vests con tin ued, and we noticed the pome gran ates and per sim mons ripen ing on the trees.
Though this area is as agri cul tural as Bavaria, we couldn’t help but notice how very dif fer ent it looks here. South ern Ger many is tidy, bristling with order, cheer ful in a prin ci pled way, shiny and well-tended and lush with flow ers. This part of Lom bardy is, well, weedy. Shabby and neglected-looking. We saw two old manor houses with huge grounds on the verge of falling down; liv ing among the ruins of many dif fer ent cen turies seems to be the stan dard. For all that, there are lots of peo ple around bustling about their business, pop ping into the local café for an espresso and talk ing up a storm.
We wonder—with no way of ver i fy ing it—whether the houses are bright and shiny on the inside, and that the dif fer ence is only on the out side. We know that some places delib er ately neglect the pub lic and out side spaces on pur pose, for safety or just for pref er ence, and maybe it’s like that here. It doesn’t seem to be poverty that’s the cause of it. The locals we’ve stayed with have said that con tem po rary Ital ians are very mate ri ally ori ented and rather too inter ested in money and things—though what ever they’re invest ing in, it’s not the facades and gar dens of their homes. One way or another, it’s cer tainly a dif fer ent expe ri ence to be walk ing through here from the first half of our journey.
It was very nice to fin ish up as planned at lunchtime in Orio Litta today. We caught up on var i ous things, spent lots of time with our day, explored a tiny gro cery store, and enjoyed cook ing for real for a change. Our pil grim hos tel is rather exotic tonight, a brick tower in the mid dle of town with halls extend ing in either direc tion, and an unsealed beam-and-tile roof on the top floor that gives lit tle glimpses of the stars. Too bad we’ll sleep through most of our time here!