Fornovo Di Taro to Cassio. We left at dawn in golden light, walking for 2 hours before we ached for coffee. Finally it came in the tiniest village where we joined a room of ladies gathered for their Saturday morning outing. It was the best cappuccino so far. We ordered two and were soon joined by Christian, the Swiss walker. We shared a chocolate and creme-filled croissant. We continued to tackle 25 unbelievable kilometres in terms of gradient. Up and up and up it went. It felt like mountain climbing. The overwhelming consensus is that the Via Francigena is considerably more difficult than the Camino de Santiago across Spain, and I can agree. It took 6-7 hours of walking. I dipped my head under a fountain for relief. Christian stopped to eat his packed lunch. I went ahead, picking an apple from the pilgrim orchard and later on a pear. Big lunches are mostly out as full stomachs hinder hard afternoon walking.
I walked ahead into Cassio and booked us into the quirky Ostello for £16 each, with sweeping views. By 4pm clothes were washed, we were showered and sitting outside Cassio’s one restaurant sipping a Proseco beside the men of the village, playing a serious game of cards. Christian joined us and Danny from London came striding past into town, trying to decide whether to press on and put up his tent further on, or stay at the Ostello. Dinner was tagliatelle funghi and a insalade mixte of the freshest succulent tomatoes doused in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Just another day on Camino, enjoying the simple pleasures in life.