For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 30 October 2015

Via Francigena: Day 8: Santhià To Vercelli

I now tried to prepare myself mentally for a ten day trek across the flat, often monotonous plain of the Po Valley. This first day was not auspicious. The paths were wet and sticky and difficult to negotiate after the previous night's rain — and it was still raining. The distances were long, and I tired quickly. (Wikimedia image.) 

Fat brown slugs crawled underfoot and mosquitoes attacked my shoulders and the back of my neck. Just in front of of me a continual succession of frogs jumped from the canal banks and plopped into the water. And all around me groups of herons and egrets silently haunted a watery landscape of endless rice fields and irrigation channels (later I was to see a flock of sacred ibis). I passed dreary, deserted farmsteads, and met not a soul all day. (Wikimedia image.)

 I made some small navigational errors, as some of the footpath signs were confusing and some of my guide book's instructions unclear. When I finally reached Vercelli, all I wanted to do was lie down and rest my sore feet. Despite its Romano-Gothic cathedral and basilica, I was not impressed with the city, which seemed to me rather depressing and unfriendly — though perhaps this had something to do with my general mood at the time. I was dying to leave the next morning. The photo shows Vercelli's Piazza Cavour and Torre dell'Angelo. (Wikimedia image.)

8 comments:

Laura said...

Mosquitoes are worse than large dogs!

Amanda Summer said...

I lived in Torino as a child and had the best meal of my life in Parma a couple years ago so I am familiar with this region. May your coming days be better ones for you.

am said...

All of us are pilgrims on this earth. I have even heard it said that the earth itself is a pilgrim in the heavens.
(Maxin Gorky)

Just noticed that quote.

This pilgrimage has a very different mood in general in that we are seeing Wiki images instead of your usual distinctive photos. I'm feeling disoriented. What month was this?

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, that's true, Laura! The smaller threats are often the worst. I've only been nipped once by a camino dog — and that was a tiny one.

The Solitary Walker said...

Better days coming, Amanda! Both lows and highs are integral to the camino life.

The Solitary Walker said...

It is a bit disorienting, Amanda — sorry for the confusion! I walked this camino (the second half of the Via Francigena) between the middle of August and the middle of September this year, and am writing it up (sporadically) in retrospect (the posts are interspersed with other more recent day walks I've done, plus a few other things). I walked from the Great St Bernard Pass in the Alps to Aosta and then down to the Po Valley, and from there to Lucca in Tuscany. I couldn't complete the final stretch to Rome as I had to return unexpectedly to England.

dritanje said...

Ah, the different moods in the different landscapes. I find walking along flat land for very long, a bit limiting, perhaps because you just can't see anything except what's right in front of you. Not surprising that the slough of despond is a slough. And even the frogs avoided you! But then, the mosquitoes loved you - ah but they love most people don't they!

The Solitary Walker said...

The frogs were amazing, Dritanje. They were always a little way ahead, and you heard the plopping sound as they successively hit the water, but they were so well camouflaged, and moved so quickly, that you rarely got a clear sighting — just streaky blurs at the corner of your vision.