It was my life—like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.
How wild it was, to let it be.
~ Cheryl Strayed
So what is it, this seductive life on foot, moving across a land? This is how five of us talked at dinner tonight in the village of Acquapendente after a 25km day of vagabonding through Italy. It is something slightly different for everyone. There’s the quiet contemplation, space, connection to people and place. The common goal, the undeniable magic. Some have come to find, solve or mend something and some don’t even know it. Some are meeting themselves and discovering the joy of being after years of routine. The physical seems inextricably linked. It’s a bit like trying to define the enchantment of life. And pilgrims are up for this discussion every time. Yes, it’s a great adventure, but it’s so much more. Maybe through this journey we just get that bit closer to loving the enigma that is life, with all its amazing offerings. One Camino truth – it’s a moveable feast; you take it with you everywhere.
The first delight this morning was early on as we prepared to leave Radicofani. We stopped in at a small grocery shop to prepare for the possibility of not finding food along the way, which can happen along the VF. Shop owner Fernando vacuum-packed his special salad for us and rushed out to pick fresh tomatoes and basil from his garden out back for our bespoke paninis. I also bought a packet of biscotti for a change from my usual croissant.
The route was not the greatest due to a section of busy road in the middle with traffic shooting past. Only Stefano and Manuela opted for the variant route, which was much more beautiful but added 8km onto the day. Sylvie and I made several stops today. One for coffee in Ponte A Rigo, another in Centeno for acqua frizzante and to eat our packed salad and paninis. The last one was for a gelato and more water. While eating lunch an 18th birthday unfolded around us and a glamorous party of people surrounded us. I sighed at glitzy outfits and high heels, and left quickly, feeling that extra bit grubby.
A highlight along the path was finding what appeared to be a derelict home, inscribed with the year 1689. We peeped curiously through the windows at furniture and antique trinkets, imagining what we could make of it.
On arrival in Acquapendente we missed out on accommodation at La Casa Del Pellegrino. It was full and we weren’t used to being turned away. After fretting a bit we noticed a nice restaurant around the corner offering rooms called Il Borgo. In no time we had a small but sweet room and bathroom to ourselves including breakfast for €27 each. We also recognised two Danish women, Marianne and Elina, doing a week of the VF with a tour company, from Radicofani. A dinner date was soon set at the restaurant downstairs. This was preceded by a crisp Proseco in the village piazza beside the local folk. As we walked back for dinner we bumped into Willy who decided to join us for dinner, making it a small table of four nations. And soon the discussion began: So what is it, this seductive life on foot, moving across a land?