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Monday, 23 June 2014

The hills are steep but the people are tops

Saturday 21st was a day when the Italian people showed their compassion and kindness to two mad strangers from Ireland who are doing a walk most Italians wouldn't consider doing unless it was by car. The day started with a warm 8am trek from the farmhouse accommodation to the small hamlet of Poggio San Lorenzo along breathtaking scenery. When we can get a signal we are using Google Maps to mark out our route since the official markings are so rare and unreliable. It was a pleasant walk into San Lorenzo but even at this early part of the morning the temperature was rising. From San Lorenzo we headed in the direction of Poggio Molano and after about an hour of easy walking we came upon a small roadside cafe run by two elderly sisters who were very pleasant and I enjoyed a wonderful cup of strong Italian coffee that would put hairs on your chest. (Mind you the skin head hair cut I got before leaving would need some strong coffee to help it). At the next roundabout this walk did its usual and went vertical. The climb for about 2 hours, in the heat, on a asphalt road, was something I could not describe in this blog, for fear that google censorship would close down the site. Feet burning, lungs bursting, and legs aching, we made the small but busy town of Poggio Molano where again the Italian people showed their spirit of kindness. People actually came over to us and asked where we had walked from and where we were going to? The local priest took me into his house, stamped our passbooks and with a smile and a blessing greeted us as pilgrims. Unfortunately our normal 20 minute midday stop turned into almost an hour and if there had been accommodation we might have stayed but we had to lift up our belongings and in true pilgrim fashion start walking on our journey. We have all seen television programmes about the worlds great journeys (train, boat, car,etc), well I want to do one on the Worlds Vertical or Rising Roads and I bet most of them are in Italy. Top of the list would be the bugger from Poggio Molano to Scandriglia. Our first distant view of Scandriglia was of buildings perched high above us on top of a very steep cliff and I thought, " no it can't be", (clean sanitised version) but it was. At 4.30 we finally made it and collapsed at the traditional fountain in the small square. We had no accommodation since we couldn't get a signal so I went into a small grocery shop to see if anything could be found for the night. Even though the lady in the shop spoke no English she took us under her wing. She went looking for accommodation and recruited another lady from the shop opposite in the quest. After 30 mins, a lot of phone calls and hand waving, they informed us everything was OK. They said that Sylvia had a farmhouse restaurant and would put us up. Within another 10 minutes Sylvia arrived in her car and transported us to an idyllic place with a restaurant and hospitality that was second to none.

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