Campagnano to Monte Mario

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~ Etienne De Grellet

Today was full of signs, wonder and unforgettable beauty that you would only find on foot. I was especially awake to it, to the warmth of the people. I’ve learnt so much. I’ve received so much. I know I shall not pass this way again in such fashion. Life moves on. I was so grateful as my feet kissed this bit of Earth one more day on the exceptional Via Francigena, that has held my journey.

It was a perfect last full day of walking – 26km and full of Camino gifts. We headed out for our morning cappuccino in Campagnano to be served by Mario who we found out had walked from Rome to Santiago 12 years ago and had his Camino shell proudly hanging on the wall. Our conversations are most often started by Sylvie. She has an incredible gift with people and I have been lucky enough to learn! It has also been fun trying to learn Italian and I feel like I’m just getting started.

The highlight of the day was discovering the Via Francigena staircase at Palazzo Chigi after being summoned off the street by historical archaeologist, Michaela, to come in and get a stamp for our credentials. He took us on a tour up the glass staircase – steps engraved with each stage of the journey. I got instant shivers walking up those stairs, realising I had walked more than 600km in exceptional circumstances. At the top was an open view over Fromello and out to Rome in the distance. Too much.

The next surprise was meeting a group of ladies in the church Di San Michele Arcangelo, who explained how the 15th century church’s frescoes had been covered up and were carefully being restored. What a privilege to be given a tour. They were organising a music concert fundraiser. We skipped out of Fromello excitedly.

The rest of the day was somewhat head down. We had to get through a lot of walking in the heat to get to La Storta, and then beyond, so we could be closer to Rome for tomorrow’s final lap. So here we are in Monte Mario about 8km from the Vatican City. And yes, I am a soul in wonder.

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