The last day pretty much consisted of walking endlessly along the streets of Rome. The main street to be correct. There were only fifteen kilometres left but it felt like a lifetime. I didn’t actually take photos because I was trying not to be run over by cars and to not get lost. Apparently, within the district of Rome, the destination of this pilgrimage, the eternal holy city, there are no signs for pilgrims anymore. Well, there are some, every once in a while. Very helpful. You got to fight your own way through the urban jungle. Which we did, not without getting separated though. At Monte Mario, a nature reserve, i.e. park, we find each other again and enjoy a final break with the first view onto Rome.
The internet is being stupid, so I cannot upload more photos. I’ll do so tomorrow morning.
Anyway, when we are finally reaching St. Peter’s Square, it starts raining. What craziness. It’s like the perfect welcome to the end of a long journey. We can’t help but to laugh. We make our way around the square passing the dome, to find the Swiss guards shielding the Vatican from stupid tourists and other evil. We are allowed to pass, having to leave our knifes with a police officer. Inside, where hardly any tourist gets, we receive our credentials. They are beautiful. The whole things is totally incredible. They even want to take a photo of us inside the walls in front of the building. Must remember to check the Vatican website… Then about thirty cardinals make their way out of the Vatican, taking selfies on their smart phones and photos of us. Therefore we dare to ask some of them for a picture with is too. As I said, all of this was so surreal. Totally awesome, no question. But… Did this really happen? To me? It’s unimaginable! Unthinkable! Unbelievable! I’m sure it will take a while for this to settle and to reach a certain level of reality in my mind. I did it! I walked to Rome. I loved it, I hated it, I was full of joy, in so much pain, in high spirit and ready to give up so many times. Like a roller coaster, up and down and all around. And somehow, during this ride, I reached my destination.
This is a great and an important experience. You learn so much about yourself, about the strength within you that you never knew of. In everyday life, not many times are you challenged to grow above yourself. Here, you do so every day. You can’t walk on when you reach your bed in the evening. Yet, every morning, you get out of this, more or less comfortable, bed and put on your shoes. Your pack your bag and start walking. Again. And again.
Thinking about walking 1200 kilometres, it seems impossible. But you need to learn to only look at today’s goal, the very thing right now. If all you do is live the moment, you can reach every destination, every goal. And, for myself, I learned that it’s ok not to succeed. I want to, don’t get me wrong. But I have come to allow myself to try without having to be successful. Which actually helps, because it does take away some of your fear. And once you’re on the road, you basically keep running anyway. Of you don’t make it to the destination, well, try again, if you think you can do it afterall. Or do something else, if you’re willing to accept that this simply wasn’t meant for you. In my opinion, both options are valid.
This time, I did it. But I had a second motif to succeed! As you know, I walked to Rome in order to raise money for humanitarian aid in the near east, where people, at the moment, do not have the choice of doing something else if life doesn’t ease them. I took you with me on this journey to share my joy and my pain. Taking this hardship onto myself is all I could do at the moment. If you think this is worth something, it would be absolutely fabulous if you could donate some money for my cause. If you don’t have much, give one cent per kilometre. That adds up to 12 euros. If you can spare a little more, feel free to do so. Check the “How to donate” tab for more information. If you need a tax receipt, feel free to contact me (in advance!).
Thank you all for being part of my journey, for listening to my short stories, my joyful expressions and my whiny complaints. Thank you for walking with me and giving me strength. We all need support from others every once in a while.
Love from Rome,
We are now in one of the suburbs of Rome. Yes, I nearly made it! 15 kilometres left. Tomorrow I will finally reach my destination. I cannot actually believe this. Despite the imagined impossibility, I’m so glad that finally I can stop walking. My body aches in so many places, I don’t even know how to describe it anymore. And still, there is a part of me that’s kind of sad that this journey will be over tomorrow. It’s so simple if all you have to do is get up in the morning and walk. Then find a place to sleep and food. Take a shower… However, I’m really glad to finish too. And I’m looking forward to spend some time in Rome.
Today was the last day walking in a natural landscape. And it was so very beautiful. We finished with a supermarket dinner which we had in the gardens of the convent we’re staying at. It’s a nice, quiet and calming place.
Like most days, today was longer than it said in the book. But I was another good walk. The weather was really nice and I could refresh my tan (obviously very important). My feet were hurting again, but since we took several breaks, I managed to push through. One break was at the waterfall of Monte Gelato, the ice cream mountain. What a beautiful place on earth.
Starting the last round, clouds came up and some raindrops were falling, but we made it safely to Campagnano without getting wet. The city is on a hill and there is a very steep climb into the old tone from the forest side. That was our way. It’s amazing to do some climbing at the end of a long walk, I can tell you. The old town is amazing. It looked a bit dead though and we were happy to find out, that there were other parts of town too. We finished the day with a wonderful pizza at Pane, amore e fantasia.
Two more days to Rome. Unbelievable!!!
A long day today. I walked with Markus and his dad. They have my pace, but we didn’t take many breaks. I think my feet might need some once in a while. Because after about 25 kilometres with only a five minute stop my feet hurt. I mean serious pain. But I keep going until we reach the next/first little village. Food and coffee and resting my naked feet for a moment makes me stronger again. I can do the last six kilometres. Pain comes back, but today nothing matters. I have reached the point now when you don’t mind anymore, when “bad” things are simply ok to happen. Sutri is beautiful. Three more days. Onwards. Happy countdown!
Another beautiful day full of sunshine and great landscape. Another day to walk on my own and go for a swim in a thermal bath. Finally. The walk is short today, nothing hurts and I get to Viterbo in what feels like no time. Reunited with my fellow pilgrims we go for a stroll around town and have an amazing dinner. I love having people around me. At times, especially on a pilgrimage, their strength keeps you going. At other times, being in a group is difficult. Today it made me learn some things about myself. Tomorrow is the last hard day before Rome. 29 kilometres up and down a hill of 900m altitude. Difference now is that I don’t mind. I’ll let you know if my intuition on this one was right afterwards.
Sleep well. Keep your heads high. Be yourselves and accept other for who they are. What you dislike in others, change about yourself. That’s what I asked for today. The ability not to make fun of others and to also love the people who hurt me. Breathing deeply. Having patience for myself.
Another beautiful day. It was pretty cold this morning which is nice for walking. Jesper and Alina were too fast for me today as with my new blisters I’m a little slower. I got those from wearing my sandals yesterday after my shoes got wet before Acquapendente and didn’t dry again… Anyway. I’m enjoying the walk on my own. I’m slow, but happy. The landscape is beautiful and the path good to walk on. I can look at the lake Lago Di Bolsena a lot. And even more important, today I hit the 100 kilometre mark. It’s so amazing to see this point after over 1000 kilometres of walking. 46 days behind me. Five more days to Rome. My feet are in pain. But I’m able to ignore it all day long since I’m feeling well. Arriving at Montefiascone it takes a while to get to the Convento di Capuccini, where we are sleeping tonight. The beds are squeaky, but everything else is fine. And then in the evening, all reunited, Alina, Jesper, Markus and his dad and I, enjoy some take away pizza during the sunset over the lake beneath us.
It’s strange though how sometimes you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. I’m not sure if it’s all those days of being in a different place every day, or the painful feet, or the general tiredness which makes me want to go to bed straight after arrival, or the feeling of nearly being there… Anyway. I’m good. I’m happy. I’m enjoying the walk. And I can’t wait fur my holidays in Rome 😉
What a beautiful day. Alina, Jesper and I start walking in the fog once again. I refrained from taking more of the same pictures. We made the first ten kilometres to the next town without a break having a nice conversation and some peaceful silence. After a warm tea and some food, we do another ten kilometres until we reach Bolsena. I loved walking today. It was a beautiful walk and I was very happy again. Also, the black clouds were in front of us and Alina and I wanted to reach Bolsena before the rain started to not get wet again today. And we did. Standing in front of the doors to the parrocchia the water starts falling. We just make it inside. When the sun comes out again, Alina and I go for a swim. Afterwards I climb back up to the castle and go to the beach once more. This city is truly beautiful. What wonderful day, to be finished with a massive Italian pizza with Markus and his father who has joined the walk in Radicofani. Perfect.
Yesterday we met Alina in the hostel. We had run into her mother in Siena where the two of them had met to celebrate the mom’s birthday. Since she was I’ll, we finally caught up. This morning Jesper, Alina and is make our way back onto the road. I’m loving it! Yes, indeed. I’m enjoying the walk so very much. It’s amazing. The views are spectacular since we are above the fog which covers the landscape like a mystery world.
The clouds were already suggesting what we didn’t want to admit… Rain! It starts slowly so we get the chance to put our rain gear on. I’m so very happy I got myself a new poncho without holes. It’s perfect. However, the rain increases and turns into such heavy rain that the water runs down my legs and into my shoes. We’re trying to find cover but there’s no place to hide. Therefore, after seven great kilometres, the next three I walk in puddles inside my own shoes. When reaching a bar, first I get changed. I’m cold. And the skies are too wet to walk on. Blister alert! We are told there is a bus from there to Acquapendente at a quarter to twelve, so we wait. At twenty past, it actually arrives.
“Acqua pendente” means “falling water” and refers to the many waterfalls in the area. I guess, for me, it has a different meaning from now on. It’s a nice little town though. With shelter for the night.
The plan for today was to start walking and take the bus when I can’t go on. There is only a bus in the beginning though, so I decide to take it for 24 kilometres and only do the last eight uphill to Radicofani. It’s a wise choice. Eight kilometres are totally enough for me today, and going up the hill through the fog is simply beautiful. Spider webs with raindrops on every plant, I can hear a concert of bells long before I see the sheep on the pasture, I breathe in new life, soaking up the fresh air with my lounges. I’m the first person to walk here today and the energy is amazing. My spirits return. I’m enjoying the walk! I can only see the next 100 metres ahead of me so all I have to do is set one foot in front of the other and enjoy the moment, where I am right now. When I reach Radicofani, it’s beautiful. I’m happy again. I’m here at eleven and basically sleep half the day.
My feet still aren’t well. My body is tired. But I’m more positive about being able to reach Rome on foot while enjoying it a little…