Distance: 32.0 km – Elevation +110 m -110 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 33 degrees
It was a good hotel but too far from the centre of Pavia especially after walking 28 kilometres. The only option for supper last night was a take-away pizza to be consumed in my hotel room. So in reality it was a disappointing end to an otherwise really enjoyable day. The walkout of Pavia this Sunday morning and the town’s empty streets were a far cry from the hustle and bustle of yesterday. I walked from the hotel to the Ponte Coperto to connect with the Via Francigena. The forecast was again for temperatures of 35 degrees plus and with 28 kilometres ahead of me to reach my intended destination of Santa Cristina I knew it was going to be a hard day. The path would take me through the broad alluvial plains of the Po Valley. The landscape was now rich farmland with fields of sunflowers and wheat to replace the rice fields of the past few days. I pass through the deserted village of San Leonardo which lies just north of where to rivers Ticino and Po join. Later I stopped for lunch in Belgioioso noted for its medieval castle, the seat of the Belgiojoso family. From there I passed through the small community of Torre de’ Negri where I passed by the most extraordinary house with lavish external decorations. Just before 5.00 pm I reached Costa de’ Nobili and rested briefly beside the River Olona. About five kilometres from Santa Cristina, the heat of the day and the unshaded tracks began to take their toll and I needed to take frequent rest breaks. Two young cyclists approached and stopped to enquire as to whether I needed assistance, they both spoke excellent English. When I explained that I am a pilgrim on my way to Rome and hope to stay in the pilgrim accommodation in Santa Cristina they said they lived in the village and explained that I needed to visit the community center behind the church for access to the pilgrim rooms. As they continued on their way they told me I had three kilometres still to walk. Eventually, I arrived in Santa Cristina close to 7.00 pm and found my way to the community center where a middle-aged man just leaving the center on his bicycle directed me to the rectory. The gate was locked but a window opens and it is the priest. I explained my needs and he asked to see my pilgrim credentials before opening the adjacent pilgrim quarters and showing me the facilities. When he left I fell exhausted on one of the beds. Later I showered and washed my clothes. There was a coffee machine but it was broken, the village is empty and deserted, no shops or restaurants were open. My supper consists of the odd items I had in my rucksack, a little bread and cheese, and a packet of crisps.