Day 23: Montale to Chiaravalle della Colomba and back to Roveleto!

Vivere militare est. Living means fighting, as my friend’s tattoo says so nicely. Tell me about it!
We have a very good breakfast at the parrochia in Montale and decide to call the location for tonight before setting off so we don’t have to go searching for keys again. The person from the abbey in Chiaravalle is particularly unfriendly saying she doesn’t have any beds tonight. They have six. We doubt that there are so many pilgrims in one place, but what can we do. We try to rearrange our walking schedule and call the parrochia in Fiorenzuola, the village before that. They are fully booked. Seriously? At the original destination, the palace that had once belonged to the abbey has been turned into a great hotel. After having the wrong number we finally find a phone number to make a reservation. It isn’t cheap, but we’re happy to have a bed. So we start our walking along the street. Today, we pick less comfortable but a little shorter route because we have pity on my feet. Which is a good choice! Because in Roveleto we find this gem: an absolutely gorgeous church!

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I feel inspired by all this beauty in so many ways. My thoughts are upside down and I am so very happy. We walk on to Fiorenzuola and after a little while my feet start aching badly. It’s like someone’s poking swords into them. First the foot, then the heel. And then that sharp pain goes into the shin. Lovely. I make it to Fiorenzuola and we take a little break. Six more kilometres to today’s goal. They are long. I can’t help but to think that I will get to stay in a great palace when I have never felt less like a princess. Finally, we arrive. The hotel is closed. Has been for two years. Who the hell did we call this morning? We try our luck to see if the abbey will let us in after all, since we’re pilgrims and they are the church and all that. We encounter one of the monks while trying to make our way through cars and tables that are being set up. Apparently they are having a party tonight so they aren’t taking any pilgrims. (We knew there weren’t six pilgrims in one place at a time!!!) Ok. But, since we’re here now, isn’t there a way to give us two of those empty beds? There isn’t! Seriously!!!! I get so very freaking angry! They are having a party so I don’t get a bed? How is that Christian??? Well, we should have called is the monks answer. Grrrrr! It would have been Christian to let us in and invite us to their stupid party! That’s what I think!
We call the hotel again to understand the confusion. They used to have two hotels, one of them the one that’s now closed. This one is quite a bit back where we came from. But they will pick us up! For free! To help out!!!
I can’t fight the urge so I make my way into the abbey to find that holy m*f* to tell him what I think. Not because I need to get it out, but because I think someone should tell them that their behaviour is everything but what they pretend to be. After going through a thousand doors, I find him. I cry, because when the adrenalin of my anger kicks in, that’s what I do. And I tell him, in English, which he understands, that this is not Christian and that he of all people should be helping out those in need. He says, I should have called. I try to explain that that’s not the point. But he just waves me off and turns away. I’m not sure if he thinks I’m crazy or if he just doesn’t give a sh*! Well, I have made my point! These open doors are closed to us it turns out. I’m so very disappointed in the church once more.

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In the meanwhile the shuttle of the hotel has arrived and a very nice guy picks us up. It turns out the hotel is back in Roveleto, the place with that beautiful church. It makes me happy. Seems like it brought me some luck. I have now taken a bath, yes, in a bathtub. I feel relaxed while still unable to believe. Should it be that as a result of my pilgrimage to Rome I will leave the church?
I want to point out at this point, that I have encountered so many friendly, helpful, loving and caring people in Italy who make me love this country a lot and show me that true Christianity, the kind that is based on Jesus’ ethic of love, still exists in the streets. And I’m happy to know. There have also been nice parrochias providing well for pilgrims (like the one last night). But apparently not every church person feels that life is about giving. “Do as I say, not as I do” comes to mind.
Today life was a battlefield. I’m glad to say, I made it through and came out on the happy side again. Stay strong! Keep smiling!

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