To Castalina Scalo - Jan 21

Back in Tuscany!

Morning in Tuscany near San Gimignano.
Morning in Tuscany near San Gimignano.

After an Italian breakfast (translate: coffee and biscotti) we attend Mass with Fr. Brian at a nearby sister's convent and then say good-bye after his blessing.

San Gimignano is much more interesting in the clear morning sun than it was last month in the late afternoon clouds. We walk out to the southeast into the morning sun and ground fog silhouetting the pine-tree-lined hilltops. The views are everything that "Tuscany" has come to mean in our memory from years of reading.

At one point we stop for a few minutes. I forget my walking stick when we leave and don't notice it for a kilometer or so. When I do, I retrace my steps back up the hill. I knew we were coming down, but I hadn't realized we had come down so far. By the time I get back to the stick, I have to take my sweater off and tie it around me. Petra had a nice rest while I retraced my steps.

Our walking sticks are long, straight branches we have found along the way as we have walked in the past. Most of the time we do not need them. I just carry mine most of the time, maybe 99 percent of the time. But when we need them, we need them. They keep us out of the mud when the path is full of it. They hold us to our path when that path is hard on the side of a hill. To me my stick is my third arm, my third leg. I even name my stick "Tatu," "Three" in Swahili in honor of its service to me. Many walk with the fancy telescoping metal sticks that clack, clack, clack down the road. I like trusting the strength of my trusty Tatu to hold my weight when I teeter on the edge of some steep hill or path. Somehow I have a hard time trusting that thin metal stick. Besides, I like the comments I get sometimes when I walk into a place with my stick.

San Gimignano now behind us.
San Gimignano now behind us.

By early afternoon we have walked several hill paths far from busy roads and are now walking the streets of Colle Val d'Elsa. We miss the VF markers and walk a kilometer wayward. But it is not without reason. The Universe has lead to a little chicken shop that has grilled chicken with a marvelous melody of spices. Indeed, a nice detour.

After the chicken, we walk to a park and sleep half an hour. In my half sleep as I get up I put my shoes on the wrong feet and cannot figure out how I am going to be able to do this walk with such painful feet. I look down and see the shoes look a bit odd and then realize the problem. Shoes righted, we continue toward Monteriggioni along a busy road.

So many flowers and so much green cover the fields. It is not at all the winter gray we left in Kisslegg. We even sleep comfortably without our coats for half an hour under a tree along the road in the sun late in the afternoon.

As we approach Monteriggione it looks just like Fr. Brian said it does, a crown on top of the hill. Its walls wind around the hilltop. But we have to leave it for tomorrow morning.

We choose to stay in Don Dariano's Parrocchia de Christo Re for the night before we discover that it involves backtracking a kilometer and a half from the path to Castellina. Neither of us is happy about walking backwards and we both complain as we go farther and farther back. But in the end Don Dariano's hospitality, warm welcome, and open house are a joy. We totally enjoy the evening with him.

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