13 Jan Stage 11 Part 1: Città di Castello to Bar Sasso
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
In Sandy Brown’s book the total distance* is given as 29,8 km for Stage 11 between Città di Castello and Pietralunga. This is the longest distance noted between two points on the walk from Florence to Rome. However, the unusual thing about today’s walk is that we’ll only be walking to Candeggio, where someone from Hotel le Mura will fetch us. Tomorrow we’ll be taken back to where we ended today’s walk, and continue to Pietralunga.
There could be many reasons why CaminoWays split the stage. Firstly, when the bookings were made, it could be that no accommodation was available in Pietralunga for today.
Another reason is a more technical hiking one. Many seasoned Camino hikers will limit their trekking to a maximum of 25 km per day. The body takes too much damage after that. Some will even call an Uber to complete the distance.
I study the book carefully because Niels has assigned navigation of this stage to me. One of the things I have to grasp is the verbal description of the route. This can at times be confusing. Typical of any manual, the more an author tries to be precise or clear, the more confusing he becomes.
The maps are of almost no use because the details are so limited, and the contours aren’t particularly clear. North is not even indicated on the stage maps. Once you’re lost, as I found out to my cost, the book is totally useless. The only thing that will possibly save you, apart from accurate intuition and strong faith, is GPS.
We set off, passing through the fortress wall next to Hotel le Mura, and make our way through the streets of Città di Castello. Our first course correction gets us back on track. Another hiker catches up to us in the outskirts of the city. He seems to be navigating purely by using GPS. He gets ahead of us, but he doesn’t lose us.
Leaving the city, we have the side of a thickly wooded hill to our left. Our route is along a country road. Not much navigation is needed. To our right, we have sweeping tobacco fields (as in the featured image). We pass through an occasional area of thick woods to both sides. Niels is still faster than I am, but I’m kind of keeping up.
All is quiet. Dead quiet. Temperatures are bearable as a result of last night’s rain. There is a hint of clouds building.
Suddenly shotgun fire explodes to our right, very close to the road. Italians and their hunting! One of the few things I truly dislike.
Cyclists and motorists are out on the roads for the weekend. Cars come around blind corners hooting, because the road is very narrow. It’s not the safest walking conditions, but nonetheless a lot easier than the stretch into Lerchi along the busy road.
Baucca is the first hamlet we reach. It’s nothing more than a couple of houses. Someone is working in a mechanical workshop. An absolutely spotless vintage black Fiat 500 passes us. One still sees a lot of these in Italy.
From Baucca to Bar Sasso
Between Baucca and Bar Sasso we catch up with the hiker. We find out he’s from Milan. He has taken a few days off to walk from Città di Castello to Assisi. None of this halfway trekking for him. He is doing what many Europeans are doing – walking different sections of Via Francigena Di San Francesco over various periods, rather than completing the whole Cammino in one attempt.
We walk along the Soara River, now and then catching a view of it before we reach Bar Sasso. Part one of the day’s trek is over. We take a break. This is the last point we’ll be able to buy liquid refreshments until we reach Pietralunga. I take photos of the beautiful little Fiat 500. The guys at the table next to us are very happy about this because it’s their pride and joy.
After a good rest, we are ready to take on the next part: the ups and downs of the Apennines. And thus, the adventure continues…