Distance: 29.7 km – Elevation +1420 m -800 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 34 degrees
Breakfast was not available until 8.00 am at the Hotel Salus and not wanting to wait until that relatively late time I was away from the hotel by 5.30 am. I found my way through the deserted town with just the bark of a dog to keep me company. I followed the trail I had plotted the evening before and soon came to a gated entrance, the wide gate was open but displayed a notice “Privata”, it was a track that climbed up through woodland. Not wanting to go back I continued to follow the track which eventually brought me out to the open hills above Fornovo. The path followed the crest of the hills and it was a beautiful morning as the sun rose, with magnificent views across the Taro stretching far into the distance as the sun rose. It was a wonderful and unexpected start for my walk today. After close to 6 kilometres, and at 7.30 am, I reached the Solferino bridge that crosses the Taro at Fornovo. Just after the bridge, I stop in a small cafe for a breakfast of croissants and coffee. From Fornovo it is first a gentle climb to reach Sivizzano where the local residents have created a “Pilgrim’s Orchard” and invite pilgrim’s to help themselves to the apples on the trees that line the road. Unfortunately for me, it was too early in the season. After Sivizzano the climb becomes more noticeable as the trail follows the quiet country road of Val Sporzona to Bardone and Terenzo. The views to the distant mountains and to the valley below are incredibly beautiful. A little before Terenzo I see a young man waving from a deserted farm, it is a German teenager walking with his father on a 2-week walking holiday. He has the eagerness that comes with being 17 years of age and enquires with excited interest about where I am from and where I was going. Somewhere after Terenzo I lose my way and have to plot a new route, and later I take what I believe is a shortcut and lose my way again. Both these mistakes result in an additional 5 kilometres to an already long day, and the last kilometre being a difficult climb along a heavily rutted woodland track. Totally exhausted after covering 32 kilometres with a climb in excess of 1000 metres I reach Cassio. I sit in the first bar/restaurant I find and order a beer and after the second beer I walk along the main road through Cassio to find the Ostello di Cassio The Ostello is a converted roadhouse and I was greeted at the door by my host, a smiling Andrea. I am the only pilgrim staying at the ostello so I have the choice of rooms on the top floor. I choose a delightful quirky room with a double bed. A large cuddly toy sits on the bed and a portrait of Audrey Hepburn hangs on the wall. There is an electric kettle, with tea bags, coffee, and sugar. I have the sole use of the bathroom and linger beneath the healing waters of a hot shower. Too exhausted to venture out I sit and enjoy a cup of tea and use food from my rucksack for supper. I lay beneath the comfort of the duvet and reflect on the day past and soon drift into sleep.