Henri Craemer | Blog
15744
page-template-default,page,page-id-15744,qode-quick-links-1.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-11.0,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1,vc_responsive
  • 7 September 2017, around 11:00. After our wanderings through the Basilica di San Francesco, Niels and I sit on the piazza looking at the cathedral and the piazza framed by arches. “This scene reminds me of Assassin’s Creed,” he says. “What?” I know the game,......

  • It’s 17:32 of 6 September 2017 on my hike with Niels Troost on the Way of St Francis. Walking through the St Giacomo Gate into the older part of Assisi, we pass under an arched crossing. It doesn’t matter how tired I feel, I still......

  • If I had a dollar for every time someone likened being in business to being on a journey, I would be much wealthier than I am now. Expressions such as the road ahead, the way forward, the journey to change, and the path to organisational......

  • 22 September 2018. Exactly one year ago Niels and I walked into St Peter’s Square. What seemed impossible when the idea of doing the Way of St Francis was first mentioned in a throwaway line, had become reality. There has been enough time to reflect......

  • 25 September 2017, 20:00 Niels and I finish our last meal together for this trip. Taking an alternative route back to the hotel, we manage to get ourselves lost for the last time. We drop into a little caffè-bar for the last time, not only......

  • Rome, 23 September 2017. After a day packed with a round trip walk to the Pantheon, Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Forum Romanum, we take it easy. We pick another place to eat supper at one of the small side streets. The quality of the......

  • Rome, 23 September 2017. Our pilgrimage is over, but we still wake up at around dawn when we would’ve set out on our day’s trek. I don my sandals and we set off sometime after 08:30. We have breakfast in one of the markets near......

  • 21 August 2018. Exactly one year ago, just before the Italian sunrise, Niels and I set out on foot, taking our first steps on the Way of St Francis from Florence to Rome. Our journey would take us through the most beautiful countryside, villages, towns,......

  • 22 September 2017, late afternoon, we are fully recovered from the day’s walking. Looking at the map of Rome, it is very clear the Residenza Montecitorio is wonderfully central to all the places we want to see. For me, three places are at the top......

  • The Vatican City, St Peter’s Square, 13:15, 22 September 2017. The euphoria of reaching the end of the pilgrimage on the Way of St Francis nullifies any tiredness. We take our arrival pictures. Perchance I take Niels’ arrival picture in front of the obelisk. He......

  • Monte Sacro, Rome, 08:35, Friday 22 September 2017. We’re on the last stretch of the Way of St Francis, within touching distance of our final destination, the Vatican. People of Rome are making their way to work. I’m aware of a nagging feeling since yesterday’s......

  • Monterotondo, 08:00, 21 September 2017. The Ristorante Pizzeria of the Albergo Antica dei Leoni offers a good Breakfast. The illness has completely cleared up. It’s remarkable how being fit speeds up recovery. Sandy Brown classifies our Way for today as “easy.” Looking at the route......

  • Monterotondo, just before 15:00, 20 September 2017. Niels and I find Bridget and John in front of the Albergo Antica dei Leoni. We’re considering having something as an afternoon snack. Niels and I wander down the hill, through the Sarocco and along the main road.......

  • Montelibretti, 20 September 2017, 07:00. Niels and I are up and at it getting ready to walk to within touching distance of our pilgrimage destination – The Vatican. I am filled with anticipation and feeling just a little nervous about tackling the trek on foot......

  • Montelibretti, just before 10:00, 19 September 2017. Ilaria hands me the keys to our two bedroomed unit in the Albergo, and a voucher for supper at the pizzeria close by. Today I get the room with the double bed, after having spent the previous three......

  • About 08:30, 19 September 2017. A so-so breakfast suffices after our morning routine of getting up and packing. The discussion of me walking today is very short. My FOMO is bad, but it can’t override my need to recover completely. I will ride with the......

  • Sunday, 17 September 2017, 14:10. I wake up from my nap before Niels has completed Stage 25 of the Way of St Francis. I walk around and take a few pics. The Agriturismo is beautifully situated. It is surrounded by forest with views of Poggio......

  • Saturday, 16 September 2017, late afternoon. Agriturismo Santa Guista is a stop on the Way of St Francis with a beautiful setting. I amble around outside for a bit, taking pictures. After being inside for a while I hear rain. Niels and I rush outside......

  • 16 September 2017: We’ve grown accustomed to leaving after breakfast. Today we’re a bit later than usual. After the revelry by the Italians of last night and the somewhat less than good night we had, this is hardly surprising. We get to the dining room,......

  • It’s after 18:00 on 15 September 2017 in Rieti. Twilight softens the lines of the city. Many Italians are out shopping and walking their dogs. It’s late enough to consider having supper. We stop in at a café on Piazza Cesare Battisti. There are many......

  • 15 September 2-17, 14:30. It’s a quiet Friday afternoon as if Rieti is already in weekend relaxing mode. The place where we decide to eat is close to Hotel Cavour on Piazza Cavour. A wide variety of people mingle on the piazza. We take an......

  • The peace surrounding Santuario La Foresta and overcast conditions deceive my sense of time. I feel rejuvenated before our quest on the Way of St Francis continues. When we start walking, it’s already well past midday. Time is not a factor because we’ve completed well......

  • 15 September 2017. Breakfast and the raiding of the buffet table have become routine. Not for the first time Niels scrutinises my selection of cold meats. He comments that processed meat could possibly be the source of my chest problems. I know, in all likelihood,......

  • 14 September 2017, just after 15:30. We are back on the main road into Poggio Bustone, at the end of Stage 22 of the Way of St Francis. The going is easy along a gentle downhill on an asphalt road. To our right, we look......

  • 14 September 2017, about 12:40. We’re at a point where we have to make a choice regarding which route to take. Do we go to Faggio San Francesco or not? Looking at the map, it will only be a few minutes before we’re on the......

  • 14 September 2017. We’re up early for a difficult stage on the Via di San Francesco. The statistics and rating indicate a hard day of 21.8km* to be covered – more or less an average day’s distance for the Way of St Francis. Judging by......

  • 13 September 2017, Piediluco at about 15:00. We have a clear view across Lago Piediluco towards Labro and some serious mountains in the background. With our chores behind us, Niels goes his way to see if there are any places to top up our provisions.......

  • 13 September 2017. Another difficult night with chest problems. There are three possibilities: last night’s food triggered an allergic asthmatic reaction, I’m getting ill, or both. I had to use my blaster (salbutamol inhaler) several times. I decide to walk in boots again, although the......

  • 12 September 2017. It was a difficult night with chest problems for me. After yesterday’s chilling down and energy crash I’m hardly surprised. Fortunately, I still had a relatively good night sleep in the end after using my salbutamol inhaler, AKA my blaster. We have......

  • 9 September 2017, 14:25. We arrive in Ceselli at our destination just as it starts raining harder. Not a soul is home. We drop our daypacks on metal tables under a cloth covered area. It’s wet almost everywhere. The covering of the area leaks heavily.......

  • It’s 09:38 on 9/11 (for the Americans remembered) of 2017. We’ve just crossed the Ponte delle Torri Aqueduct illegally under the watchful eyes of surveillance cameras. Niels has already left. There is also no one waiting to arrest us after we made our forbidden crossing.......

  • 11 September 2017. Since we decided last night to take the elevators up to the fort, we’re in no hurry to get going. They only open at 08:30. The rating for the day’s trek by Sandy Brown is “Hard”. This is not due to the......

  • A few minutes after 15:00 Niels starts getting ready to go sightseeing. I’ve surfaced from a very fitful meditation. I’m ready to join him. We look at the map he got from reception and decide how to explore Spoleto. Looking outside I see it’s still......

  • 10 September 2017, about 13:40. Stage 18 part 1 and part 2 completed. We unpack. Thankfully, not a drop of rain got through the waterproofing of my KWAY Venture 50 backpack. Rest and Recovery Niels is in the shower. I take off all my sodden......

  • 10 September 2017. Today we are faced with most likely the easiest walk on the entire Way of St Francis – 12km and “flat as a cow’s how’s your father,” according to Niels. We are in no hurry to get up. During the night there......

  • It’s around 13:30 on 9/9/2017 as we leave Trevi on the road to Fonti del Clitunno. Stage 18 of the Way of St Francis has begun. We’re on the bright side of the hill and the sun is baking us. The walk has gone very......

  • 9/9/2017. Today we won’t be stopping in Trevi where Stage 17 ends, but a little past Fonti del Clitunno, 6km into Stage 18. Total distance: 20km. At about 08:25, we’re done in the hotel, and we hit the road. I take a few last pics......

  • It’s just after 14:00 on 8 September 2017. We’ve done the distance of over 20 km for Stage 16 plus the extra bit in almost exactly six hours. Considering we’ve taken at least an hour to rest in Spello, it means we’ve covered the distance......

  • We start the second half of the Cammino di San Francesco at the dawn of 8 September 2017. Italy is still on daylight savings time. With Assisi at latitude 43ᵒ4’ North and longitude 12ᵒ13’ East, I’m not surprised to see a notable shift in sunrise......

  • With no pressure to be up and walking at a certain time, we don’t set any alarms. We both sleep the sleep of the dead. I wake up in the dead of the night and do a meditation. I go back to bed and sleep......

  • It’s 17:32 of 6 September 2017 on my hike with Niels Troost on the Way of St Francis. Walking through the St Giacomo Gate into the older part of Assisi, we pass under an arched crossing. It doesn’t matter how tired I feel, I still......

  • It is just after 15:00, 6 September 2017. There is silence at the watering point after the Pilgrims’ Cross. I decide to give myself as long as it takes before setting foot on the road again. The absolute refusal of a rebel^ fills me after......

  • 6 September 2017, just after 13:00. I have always been one who does what is necessary. I want to know what I’m faced with. The book says 13.4km*, ascents 530m, and descents 456m. In comparison with the what we’ve done today, it means more climbing,......

  • 6 September 2017, 06:30. The atmosphere in the chalet is tense as we get up. Niels’ attitude puzzles me. I’m still irritated about how he treated me last night. I take it personally, but I say nothing. The whole damn episode is bad enough to......

  • 5 September 2017, 14:10. We consult author Sandy Brown’s book on Trekking the Way of St Francis. A simple route description is contained in the last paragraph for Stage 13. All we need to do is look out for a fork in the road, turn......

  • 5 September 2017, 07:00. We are locked and loaded. Our breakfast is perfect, apart from the fact that we have it way too quick for my liking. “I don’t believe in breakfast” – Niels’ own words. So, I am grateful that I have a little......

  • 4 September 2017, 14:20. We’ve just entered the old part of Gubbio through a very large archway in the city wall. It’s a typical Italian small-town summer afternoon as we conclude Stage 12 of the Way of St Francis. There is an air of sleepiness......

  • 4 September 2017, 04:20. I do my meditation and get back into bed for some more sleep. At 05:27 I awake. A few minutes later the alarm makes its first sounds before I kill it. That was a good night’s rest, not needing to worry......

  • In trying to answer the question, “What is a Camino?” Part 1 of my search started from a historical and geographical point of view. It then occurred to me that I’ve overlooked the most obvious difference: that of spelling and language. One area of particular......

  • When I first contemplated walking the Way of St Francis from Florence to Rome, I never considered the difference between the words “Camino” and “Cammino”. I was already aware of the Spanish Camino that started somewhere in France and ended in Santiago, also referred to......

  • It’s just after 13:30 on 3 September 2017. Stage 11 of the Way of St Francis ends here, at the main Piazza of Pietralunga after a steep climb. The old part of the town has certainly maintained its medieval character. What strikes me is how......

  • I sense things, especially atmospheres. The isolated location on Stage 11 of the Way of St Francis adds to the aura of Pieve di Saddi. Even as I approach the building, the quietude has a quality of reverence to it. Inside the church, it is......

  • 3 September 2017. Day 2 of Stage 11, Candeggio to Pietralunga on the Way of St Francis awaits. After breakfast, it’s arrivederci Città di Castello. We pack our packs into the car. The driver will take us to where our walk ended yesterday, and then......

  • After completing our walk from Città di Castello to Bar Sasso, and then to Candeggio, we return to Hotel le Mura. We clean up and make our way into the city centre. We explore the Cathedral of Saints Florido and Amanzio the patron saints of......

  • Refreshed after our break at Bar Sasso, we are ready to tackle this part of the Apennines. Until now it has been a very easy walk on the Way of St Francis. It seems as if most of the 889m* ascent of Stage 11 still......

  • 2 September 2017. We wake up to the sound of thunder. It has rained during the night. We’re up and have breakfast at quite a leisurely pace, considering it’s a walking day on the St Francis Way in Italy.   Navigation and Hiking Stage 11......

  • Thursday 31 August 2017. The shortcut from Citerna to Città di Castello must have shaved at least 90 minutes off the day’s trek. Hence our early arrival. We clean up and hit the town. It’s the biggest town we’ve been in since leaving Florence. It......

  • 31 August 2017. A good night’s rest at Poggio Villa Fano was just what the doctor ordered. The necessary recovery from walking double the distance to Citerna, on Stage 9 of the Via Francigena di San Francesco, feels complete. My boots feel good on my......

  • The sign welcoming us to Citerna is not mentioned in Sandy Brown’s book. Technically we are still lost. Only when we reach the Convento Soccolante do we know our detour is over. However, there is a steep hill before we get to the wall which......

  • I sit at the crossroad, looking back on part one of Stage 9 of the St Francis Way. I have five alternatives, with no idea which one to take. Is Niels assuming that I will carry on with the road? Apart from this, I can......

  •   30 August 2017. One of the advantages of improved fitness, plus a good night’s sleep is that it makes getting up in the morning so much easier. Throw into this the fact that we’re going to do one of the shortest distances on an......

  • Stage 8 of the Way of St Francis comes to an end as we enter Sansepolcro. Niels looks at the address and directions for getting our inn: Locanda del Giglio, Via Luca Pacioli. We arrive at approximately 14:15 at what we think is the place,......

  • 29 August 2017. We have to wait to settle the bill with the innkeeper of Buca di Michelangelo. While doing so, someone brings us a typical Italian breakfast: a jam tart, croissants and biscuits. We top it off with espresso. The others having breakfast with......

  • 28 August 2017, after 15:00. Soon after settling into Albergo Buca di Michelangelo clouds start moving in. Until now we’ve been very fortunate to avoid rain, although it may well have brought welcome relief from the heat. The now familiar post-hike routine has not only......

  • 28 August 2017. Today we start Section 2 of the St Francis pilgrimage, which ends in Assisi. Many pilgrims take Santuario Della Verna as the starting point of their pilgrimage. Today our route with CaminoWays, with whom Travel Managers booked our trek, is taking us......

  • 26 August few minutes before 15:00, I approach the gate on the path into the lower reaches of Santuario Della Verna, after walking through one of the most incredible forests I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. Niels waits for me on the other side.......

  • 26 August 2017. Rimbocchi seems to be a crossroad for a number of places – Badia Prataglia and La Verna being two. We see a number of cyclists passing through. Cycling seems to be very popular in Italy. The occasional group of around five bikers......

  • 26 August 2017, before sunrise. Niels and I leave our backpacks in reception for portage on Stage 6 of the Francigena di San Francesco from Badia Prataglia to Santuario della Verna. This will be the first time I walk with my little red daypack containing......

  • In a previous piece, I discussed fitness for walking a Camino, or the Way of St Francis. I soon saw the flaws in my argument when I started walking with Niels, my super-fit hiking partner. I was right about two things. Firstly, one only gets......

  • 25 August 2017. The day’s trail from Camaldoli to Badia Prataglia beckons. After my day of healing in Camaldoli, I’d like to stay for a very long time. There is precious little to do, but the place has an atmosphere of deep peace about it.......

  • August 24, 2017. After a very good night’s rest, I wake up. It’s just before sunrise when I get up to do my first daily routines. During the pilgrimage, as on any other day, I do a morning meditation. The only room in which I......

  • It’s late Afternoon 23 August. I’m lying on the bed, in Fattoria la Foresta, the inn in Stia at the end of Stage 3 of The Way of St Francis. The poor start and murderous defeat on the road to Stia have destroyed me. Were......

  • After a Poor start to Stage 3 on The Way of St Francis, we continue our quest on in the heat of the day. Following the settlement of Castel Castagnaio, we attack Poggio Roseto. At least this poggio is not as severe as Pian della......

  • Wednesday 23 August 2017. I get up feeling confident that things will go well today, after the improvement during yesterday’s Stage 2 on the Way of St Francis. Ideally, we should start a stage on the trail at the crack of dawn. Today this is not......

  • It is around 06:00, 22 August 2017, in Pontassieve, just before the Italian summer sunrise. Feeling revitalised by a good night’s rest, my feet in walkable shape, blister plasters working well, I decide to hike Stage 2 of the St Francis Way after all. Niels......

  • It is before the Italian sunrise in Florence on the 21st of August 2017. We set off on the Via di San Francesco, Stage 1: Florence to Pontassieve. We reach our first landmark, the Triumphal Arch on the Piazza di Libertà, still inside Florence. It......

  • I can strongly recommend walking The St Francis Way from Florence to Rome to lose weight and get fit. However, this recommendation comes with a very serious warning: You could kill yourself in the process. This is especially true if you’re very overweight and don’t......

  • Common sense says you should be fit enough before starting something like a Camino hike of about 500 Km. Here are some of my previous attempts, some more misguided than others.   Do Nothing Hindsight and common sense says this is a bad idea. Yet......

  • When I told was my daughter, Estelle, about my invitation to hike the Way of St Francis of Assisi, she suggested we go and look at some boots. She knew of about the Hi-Tec factory store near to where we live. She’s into hiking too,......

  • It is the end of June 2017. The wheels are in motion for me to meet Niels in Italy or somewhere on route, to walk The Way of St Francis from Florence to Rome. Hiking with someone, especially on a difficult hike, either builds or......

  • I sometimes marvel at my own insanity. Is it possible? It’s the 4th of August, 2017. Here I am, four weeks after my birthday. I’m going to hike the Camino of St Francis of Assisi at age 63. Arrangements are in place. The initial feelings of......

  • Who knows where a crazy idea, voiced in a throwaway line can lead you? It may just be the fuel to fire up strange dreams. It all started more than a year ago. An old friend mine, Niels Troost, suggested that I come and visit......