Ecumenical Pilgrimage - Sarzana - First Glimpses of the Mediterranean

Yes ter day morn ing we headed out of Aulla, this time with Jed, Andrew’s older brother, keep ing us com­pany. It was an induc tion into the pil grim age life not for the faint of heart, or faint of calf mus cle! We did nearly half of our day’s 660 m in the first hour, eas ily our steep est ascent yet. Jed came through with great aplomb, and it was great fun to talk to him. Once we were up we stayed mostly up with gen tler ups and downs, curv ing our way around the last ridges of the Apennines.

Not long after lunch we finally saw the sight we’d been wait ing for all day: the beau ti ful blue Mediter­ranean. It was about the most gor geous weather we’ve had yet, bril liant white light all around us from the sun shine bounces off the water. Lit tle stone vil lages capped low round hills, each with a few houses painted in yel low or red. We met a don key and her foal, and star tled a flock of creamy white pigeons. We’ve left fall behind and ducked back into the sum mer we never had in August—the change in cli mate and ter rain was imme di ately notice able com ing out of the moun tains and down to the coast. We are now very briefly out of Tus cany for a short stint in Lig uria, the rocky coast of Italy’s north west arc ing from here up to the French border.

Midafter noon we met up with Roger and Ginny and Zeke in the camper at the train sta tion in Sarzana. It is fit ting to men tion that along side Andrew’s and my pil grim age there has been another jour ney, fre quently just as chal leng ing, on the part of our road crew. They’ve been with us for 10 days now in the camper. It seemed like the eas i est and best solu tion to keep Zeke near us once we got out of reach of week end vis­its like in Ger many, and to give them a chance to see a bit of Italy in the process. So far that has not been so. It turns out that nearly all camp ing facil i ties in Italy shut down on Sep tem ber 30. Why this should be so in a nation that has gor geous weather through much of the win ter and a pop u la tion of avid campers I can’t imag ine. Tak ing care of, um, cer tain basic san i ta tion issues has come to pre oc cupy all of our minds. My poor in-laws have seen more boarded-up camp grounds and nonex is tent dump sites than charm ing Ital ian towns by now.

All of this is to say that, as soon as we fin ished our short day’s walk on Fri day, the three of us were col­lected and shut tled off to the next prospec tive camper van sta tion. En route there was fer vent prayer for this one to be a suc cess, and even more fer vent praise when it turned out to be exactly what was needed. And may God ever bless and pros per the Asso ci azione Camperisti.

After that we drove into the coastal town of La Spezia, found a safe place to park the camper—another task that occu pies way more time than we hoped it would—found a place for me and Andrew to stay (no room in the camper with Jed here, and we thought Zeke needed a change of scenery), and then all of us went out to din ner at a cute local joint to cel e brate the sur vival of ten days on the road in the camper. We were all kind of glad that the camper wasn’t there to cel e brate with us.

Today was the des ig nated rest day, which meant catch ing up on gro ceries, laun dry, and pho tos for the gen tle men, while the ladies took a day trip up the coast. If you’re a fan of the movie “Enchanted April,” you’ll know exactly where we went and what we saw. It required a few km of walk ing even on my day off, but it was worth every step for the refresh ment of spirit.