01 May Stage 16: Forward to Foligno
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 time as the equinox approaches when we rise. We do our usual pre-hiking routine. At least Hotel La Rocca is already up and willing to serve us breakfast.
A Good Start
Of all the days we’ve hiked thus far, I feel in the best shape before starting. The rest day did us a world of good, not only physically, but also spiritually. The backpack must weigh the same – it has the same items as the day we started in Firenze – yet it feels lighter.
The air between Niels and me has been cleared. The friendship has returned.
I look at Sandy Brown’s Trekking The Way of St Francis. The Stage 16 destination is given as Spello. There are two alternative routes. The easy one gives the distance* as 13,8km, ascents: 301m, and descents: 429m. It’s still a hilly walk but not quite as much the trek into Assisi. The hard route only adds 3,8km, but the ascents and descents are dramatically increased – 925m and 1024m respectively.
Niels and I discuss the route we’ll be hiking. He reminds me that we won’t be stopping in Spello. We shall go on to Foligno. According to Caminoways that distance is given as 20km. Looking at the map of the extended route on the first part of Stage 17, ascents and descents seem nothing to worry about. Clearly, we two old codgers will opt for the easy route.
The air is crisp as we take to the alleys of Assisi, making our way to where we saw the waymarks yesterday. We make our way through an arch on what we think is the first on the way to the Porta Nuova. We soon find out we’re on the wrong way. I just smile. It’s become almost customary to lose the path at least once on a stage. In the process, we see some stunning views.
Easy Going from Assisi to Spello
We make the necessary course correction. Passing the Basilica di Santa Chiara, the route leads us to the third gate – Porta Nuova. We find our way out of Assisi. It’s not too long before Parco di Monte Subasio with its the beauty and silence of envelops us. Near the Fosso Delle Carceri we see hammocks under trees. We feel good enough to resist this very tempting sight.
Time flies as we walk the ever-changing path from gravel to asphalt, ups and downs, straight stretches and zigzags, and back.
The road passes between a house and garage, as per route instructions. We exchange “Buongiorno” greetings with the farmer. I’m not sure whether he’s surprised or annoyed at the sight of two backpackers passing through his land.
We find ourselves wandering through olive groves, onto Via degli Olivi. There is s slight climb up to the Via Poeta (featured image). Baroque-like clouds are rolling in over the distant hills. This view of Spello and the valley is indeed worthy of poetry. Ten minutes later we walk into the town, along a road very popular with cyclists.
We find a small Albergo where we can have lunch. There is hardly place for two seats around a table between the building and the alley. The sun soon chases us to a more comfortable area. It’s only 11:30. Again the innkeeper serves us, even though it’s well before his lunch hour. All it takes is a slight wait for him to prepare our tagliatelle.
Stage 17 Begins
At around 12:30 it’s on with the backpacks and forward to Foligno. Through the town we take in a few of the sights. We leave old part Spello, passing the Porta Consolare. Soon we’re in suburbia. There is no one on the streets except a woman with a child, peacefully sleeping in a pushchair.
The noisiest part between the two towns is crossing the SS75. At 14:01 we reach the Topino River, the natural line between the old centre of Foligno and its outskirts. The bridge has several flags with different emblems on each side. We stop over the middle of the river. Niels points out the trout swimming in the stream.
Soon after we’ve crossed the bridge, we find a Bar-Ristorante and take in liquid refreshments. We are just a few blocks away from our hotel, but we’ll wait a while before checking in. There is a sense of satisfaction at having completed the day’s journey, and still feeling as good as we do.
*Conversions from Metric to Imperial
3,8km = ~2.4 miles
13,8km = ~8.6 miles
17.6km = ~11.0 miles
20km = ~12.4 miles
301m = ~988’
429m = ~1407’
925m = ~3035’
1024m = ~3360’