Day 19: Gropello Cairoli to Pavia

My dear friends, I’m in love! With Italy, its people, its food and especially Pavia. But I’ll start with last night…

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We had dinner at a hotel because everything else was closed due to the bank holiday. That hotel took in about ten refugees from different African countries. And although the food wasn’t amazing, I was amazed by the owner doing this. I couldn’t concentrate on our conversations much because I couldn’t but think what it would be like, if the situation in your home country was so bad you had to flee, risking your life, leaving behind your friends and family. And then you’re in a country who’s language you don’t speak, waiting for a permission to work when there aren’t many jobs anyway. No, I can’t possibly imagine this. But I felt that I really wanted to help. This fundraiser, raising money for people in the Middle East by taking the chore upon me to walk over 1000km, is something. I’m sure that more can be done. But for me, it’s a start. And I am very much looking forward to doing my masters degree I peace studies, commencing in October. I know, for once, I have found my way, my purpose in life.
The next morning we went to the hotel again for breakfast and I started talking to a young guy from Nigeria who’d like to come live in Germany if he can. I gave him my contact details and promised to help if I could. For him, just getting my number, he said, gave him hope again. I think, having that hope, he already made a big step. And I’m glad I could be of help with this.
Off we went on a long trip along the street. Jean-Luc is far ahead of us in no time. There is a path along the river, but apparently quite a few criminals operate in that area so you’re adviced to take the road instead. We do.

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A while later we arrive in Pavia. We’re staying in the parrocchia di Santa Maria in Betlem. It’s all newly renovated, clean, light and totally amazing. We are being met in early again and are ready to go explore the town by 1.30pm.

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I won’t bore you with too many church photos again, but il Duomo S. stefano and San Piedro in Ciel d’Oro are absolutely beautiful!

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We’re having pizza for lunch on the plazza across the dome, later coffee and then ice cream (all dairy free!).

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Pavia is absolutely gorgeous! I don’t know how to explain it, but after being disappointed in Vercelli, here, I feel welcome, home, comfortable – the need to return.

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Most of all, I liked the university. It was founded in 1361. I got a thing for old universities. They feel like places with this amazing energy of the accumulated knowledge throughout centuries before us. For me, I have the impression that I can go in there and soak in this knowledge. I need to even. There is so much to know in the works, I could study forever. And I guess, in a way, it’s what life is about anyway. Lifelong learning. This uni feels special to me. I have a hard time leaving after walking through nearly every corridor and want to come back one day. Who knows…

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After having seen nearly all of the town, we run into Jean-Luc and meet with him again for dinner. Penne allo scoglio. Yummy! Another perfect day in pilgrim land.
(Achilles’ tendons are still bad, but who wants to complain after a day like that!)

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