Author Archives: Bill and Paige

About Bill and Paige

Years ago we were bitten by the Wanderlust bug and the result was a serious case of “we gotta get out of here” syndrome. Pressed for time to see the world – we want to live it, breathe it, feel it and give back! So… we’re on the move!

Detour to Lucca

The only way to fix a flat tire is to pump it up – right? There’s lots of fresh air in one of our favorite cities in Tuscany.

Lucca with an Renaissance era wall that’s perfect for a bicycle ride which surely beats walking!We hopped on a train and headed south. It wasn’t hot enough so we decided to go even hotter!

Day 18 of the Via Francigena

Fiorenzuola to Fidenza – 9 miles by foot

There was a happy face in our sink this morning.Today it was hot and humid by 9:30. Darrell learned that the weather is not normal for this time of year.

We started walking through town to an overpass to roadside walking through farm land with huge old stone buildings. It was what novels were written about. I longed for a family to invite us in to sit down for lunch in the shade of their tree. A long table with bottles of water and wine, fresh vegetables, homemade cheese, fresh baked bread and farm raised meat to greet us. Yup. It ended there. A longing – a mirage in my mind.The humidity causes the horizon to be misty and our bodies to be soggy and heavy.We encountered seven other pilgrims along the trail and met the nicest locals today. They all think we’re nuts for walking to Rome but smile at our tenacity.

4 miles short of Fidenza one of the Fab Five had a tire blow out and the owner of the restaurant where we stopped for lunch drove us to our final destination.We found the closest place to rest at the Hotel Astoria.Roxanne’s post and photos:

Walking out of Fiorenzuola d’Arda

The Abby of Chiaravalle della Colomba

Rural road to Castione Marchesi

Day 17 of the Via Francigena

Today was a zigzag…Walk then a boat ride across the Po River (with two fun Italian lady pilgrims). Walk again – then a train ride to Fiorenzuola. One final walk right to the Hotel Concordia.Right after taking the picture below I slid a couple of feet down the boat ramp and my phone went flying in the air towards the river – miraculously it landed on a small patch of reed grass and didn’t get wet.The boat captain took us to his house to sign his guest book and to get stamps in our pilgrim passports.10 miles by foot.

Our guide books said the walk from Piacenza to here is dangerous – lots of highway situations. We walked for miles along the highway on the Camino de Santiago Portugues because of flooding and agreed that this time we would avoid it.

The scenery is slowing changing.

We saw alfalfa fields today and also confirmed with a farmer that the beans are indeed soy (good call Cathy).

Roxanne’s post and photos:

Villa Litta Carini in Orio Litta

Boat ramp in Corte Sant’Andrea where the Fab Five crossed the Po River by boat

Captain Danilo

Walked to San Nicolo and took a 15 minute train ride to Fiorenzuola

Day 16 of the Via Francigena

Santa Cristina e Bissone to Orio Litto – 10 miles in 4.5 hours The misty cool morning and the presence of hunters brought a smile upon my face. Hills! There’s hills on our horizon. Just wait! We know they will test our stamina but we are looking forward to them.

This is what betraying the train warning sign looks like when you’re carrying a backpack.Improv on the Via….

We’re going up the Po Po

In a bo bo

In search of a bottle of vino

So we can take the traino to the next stopo

Along with the Rich and the Hones who are looking for ham con mayoThe crossing guard got a text message!There’ll be days like this, mama said…Tonight we are in another super clean donativo sponsored by the local municipality. The mayor, Luigi, came by to greet us.

Roxanne’s post and photos:

Green in Santa Cristina e BissoneMosquito repellentPheasant hunter near Miradolo TermeSidewalk cafe in Miradolo TermeCusani Castle in Chignolo, PoHostel in Orio Litta

Day 15 of the Via Francigena

Belgioioso to Santa Cristina e Bissone – 8 miles in 4 hoursIt was such an exciting day! We had the rare opportunity to walk through RICE and CORN!Oh and BEANS!If it wasn’t for the mosquitos that ate us alive we might have been able to finish the day by sleep walking. It seems as if we’ve plowed this trail for days. It’s only the new bed each night that tells me we aren’t walking in circles.

Bug spray you say? This nasty army of blood suckers plugged their noses and bit away – resistant to deet. The good news is that we registered the fastest miles per hour on the whole trip!I kid about the rice, corn and beans. The truth is that it’s beautiful – not just the landscape but the fact that we are all doing this together, we’re healthy, we get to visit, laugh, share and be still within ourselves.

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~Sarah Ban BreathnatchWe’ve all become huge fans of clouds and wind because the sun slowly sucks the life out of us like an aging helium balloon. Lucky for us the weather Gods has given us plenty of cloudy mornings.Tonight we are staying in a church donativo. All five of us are in one room. There are 10 in the building and there’s one bathroom.

Roxanne’s post and photos:

Walking out of Belgioioso into the corn and rice fields of the Lombardi Plains


Corn harvesterCoffee with heavy creamSidewalk cafe in Torre de’ Negri

Beautiful in Santa Cristina e BissoneGelateriaFive beds and one bathroom hostel in Santa Cristina E Bissone

Day 14 of the Via Francigena

Pavia to Belgioioso 12 miles in 5.5 hours.

We have walked 175.6 miles so far.

It took 1 hour and 20 minutes to walk out of city of Pavia. School kids filled the streets. It was great fun watching them full of energy visiting and chit chatting.Neighborhoods.More rice, corn and beans but not prevalent like before. Boy is it flat! There’s not a hill in sight.Most of our walk was on pavement which takes a toll on the body.Belgioioso

What’s the town name? Bill “Bela Lugosi boiled bouillabaisse”.We’re staying at La Locanda Della Pesa an Albergo. Super clean room with two beds and a private bath. I rate it a 9 for the comfortable beds (yup 2 twins) and cleanliness. Bill rated it a 9 because he found a fork on the floor with food on it. Darrell rated it a 7 because it didn’t have air and Chappy gave it a 6 because it doesn’t have WiFi – so he thought… now it’s a 9.

Did you know that Italy has red wine that’s frizzante? That means wine with bubbles and chilled. That means yucky. That means we always forget to ask when we order vino della casa (house wine). That means we drink it anyways.

I rather like bad wine . . . one gets so bored with good wine.

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield 1804 – 1881

Darrell tried to swirl the bubbles out.

Roxanne’s post and photos:

Paige rates rooms one through ten. If it’s rated six or below, Darrell requests a Paige pillow sniff.Yellow church in San Leonardo

Yellow home in Belgioioso

Postman in Belgioioso on yellow bike

One ear kitty in Pavia

Yellow church in Pavia

Day 13 of the Via Francigena

Domenica (Sunday)

Gropello Cairoli to Pavia – 12 miles and 6.5 hoursThe scenery changed today – large farms, narrow country roads and woodsy paths next to the Ticino River.Early this morning rice was still king and corn its queen. Shotguns echoed around us as camouflaged sportsmen hunted for pheasant.Approaching the noon hour we approached the Ticino River – silent fishermen cast their lines while motorboats scared the fish away.

Bicyclers ruled the road ande trails! Occasionally scaring the $h!t out of us.
It is remarkable how new scenery stimulates the mind and body – it’s like a shot of adrenaline!Hello Pavia and the Hotel Excelsior.

Ever wonder how we do laundry?

In the sink –Wring it out –Lay it on a towel – Wring again – Hang –Roxanne’s post and photos:

Harvested cornHarvested riceLombardy Plain irrigation canalTicino RiverPurple tractorPavia, a college town on the Ticino River

Day 12 of the Via Francigena

Tremollo to Gropello Cairoli – 8.1 miles in 4 hours

You should see us trying to communicate. In these small villages English is not spoken. We use a mixture of English and Spanish hoping something will click.

Last night at dinner we were trying to derive what type of meat was on the pasta. Resorting to sounds we all mooed. The waitress giggled and in perfect English retorted “Bambi”. It was delicious.

Giuseppe uses a translation app on his phone and communicates perfectly.I think our brains knew we had a short walk and shut down our bodies right out of the chute.

Bill said “Instead of posting photos of this day just tell people to look at yesterday’s photos.” Think Groundhog’s Day.

Rice fields, irrigation canals and cute towns.The mosquitos are back!!! If you stop to take a photo the flies and mosquitos will take you down and eat you alive. Especially by the piles of poo!Pheasant tracks galore.Beautifully overcast most of the day.

Life is easy peasy on a Pilgrimage. The guys figure out how far to go and where we’re sleeping. We eat, walk, buy cigars, walk, eat, walk and eat. Chit chat. Walk alone. Walk in groups. Simplicity at its bestWe now lie on the bed in the Hotel Motel Flower (no lie).

Our hallway tonight:Our hallway the night before:

Roxanne’s post and photos:

Another fine day walking through fields of rice cultivated in Italy since the 15th Century.

Irrigation canals

The town of Garlasco

In the town of Tromello