Tag Archives: via francigena

Via Francigena waymarker

Walking vaguely Rome-wards: Chivasso to Lamporo

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Obviously the best day to do a 25 km walk with minimal shade is a muggy, hazy day, one where you can’t see any distant scenery and sunburn is inevitable. It’s what anyone would do, right? Guys?

At any rate, it’s what I did last Saturday. In numbers:

  • Hours in advance I’d planned this: 12. I was feeling energetic Friday night, and at some point I decided I should continue with this ‘walking to Rome‘ business. A bit of quick Google-map-ing and I figured I knew what I was doing.
  • Kilometres originally planned to walk: 13.5. You know, a reasonable 2-3 hours. But “just in case I was feeling extra energetic”, I looked a bit further ahead and planned a longer route: Chivasso-Lamporo, ~20 km on the via Francigena and then an extra 4.5 km Lamporo-Crescentino train station. Really, given the option of a longer walk, what did I think was going to happen??
  • Number of snakes spotted: 3. “There are no venomous snakes in Piemonte” became my motto. If that isn’t true, please don’t tell me. The worst was when a snake and I startled each other on an over-grown bit path, one of the few bits of the route that wasn’t a road. “Oh my goodness!” I sad aloud. Fortunately, the snake didn’t reply. That was the one point I wished I was with a group, so I could be the one faux-cheerfully saying “There are no venomous snakes in Piemonte, let’s go!” It’s less convincing when no-one is listening.
  • Number of frogs: dozens. As I was walking next to irrigation canals they’d jump in when I went past. Plop, plop, plop. I whistled “Galumph went the little green frog” as I walked. I hope the frogs only know the first verse and chorus.
  • Number of corn fields: All of them. Every single corn field. So. much. corn. I was so excited when I came across a rice field towards the end of the day. If I were an actual pilgrim, I’d be doing insanely long days just to get out of the plains as quickly as possible. But… there is something to be said for long boring walks. After the first hour or two, you start to accept that nothing much is going to happen, and you end up doing all the thinking and daydreaming you’d been putting off for the past while.

A walk out of town

The other week, as I was popping down to the shops to buy some eggs, I noticed an odd sticker on a lamp post. It was a cartoon-ish figure of a pilgrim, and below it was an arrow labelled “Roma”.

“Odd choice of street art,” I thought. Except there, across the street, was another, placed exactly as if to show hikers that yes, they were right to cross the street and keep going.

Turns out, I live on a walking trail, the Via Francigena. Or rather, one of the Vie Francigene, since it turns out there’s several routes which diverge and converge as they make their way towards Rome. This clearly needed some exploring.

So after lunch I set out again towards the shops, and kept going. The trail headed for the river and more or less followed it exactly.  That day, I made it to San Mauro, about 10km from central Torino, before I turned back and walked down the other side of the river.

Trail sign! Rome seems and implausible goal.

Trail sign! Rome seems an implausible goal.

Going past the Jewish section of the cemetery on the way to the river.

Going past the Jewish section of the cemetery on the way to the river.

This lamp post will be warm in winter.

This lamp post will be warm in winter.

Under the bridge.

Under the bridge…

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And through the trees.

So obviously, having reached San Mauro, the obvious thing to do was set out the next Saturday, get the bus to where I’d left off and keep going. The first 10 minutes was through the suburbs, and I wondered if I’d misjudged and was about to spend the next few hours walking past peoples’ apartments. From one of them, I could hear someone practising the piano, and old tune I couldn’t quite place (and they couldn’t quite play). It was a hot afternoon, and I was tempted to bail or at least make a substaintial gelato break before I went any further. But once I reached the farmland it was good going:

Country style trail marker!

Country style trail marker!

Looking back on the Superga.

Looking back on the Superga.

Navigation was never difficult.

Navigation was never difficult.

On the banks of the Po.

On the banks of the Po.

Peaceful afternoon.

Peaceful afternoon.

It took me a bit longer than I’d planned and I developed a good sized blister¬† on the ball of my left foot, but I made it the 19 km to Chivasso which conveniently has a regular train service back to Torino. (I certainly wasn’t walking back!)

So. On to Rome??