Distance: 27.0 km – Elevation +410 m -700 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 34 degrees
I set the alarm on my phone before sleeping to ensure that I was up and about in time for my host’s departure, but it wasn’t needed as I woke naturally well before 5.00 am. I joined my hosts for breakfast and we exchanged contact details and I thanked them for their kindness and hospitality and I received a warm hug from both Elsa and Elisa as I left. It was still dark and Elisa’s husband walked with me to ensure I was on the correct path out of the village. Initially, it was slow going as I picked my way along the narrow path with just my head torch. Dawn was just breaking as I came to the beautiful medieval bridge that crosses the River Magra at Groppodalosio. At 7.30 am I arrived in the small community of Toplecca di Sopra – it had taken me close to 2 hours to cover just 4 kilometres. The sign at the start of the village announces “Population 5”. The path continued on across the Passo della Crocetta before reaching the Chiesa San Basilide in Arzengio where I sat on the provided bench looking at Pontremoli in the valley below and filled my water bottles from the nearby fountain. I arrived in the Piazza di Duomo in the centre of Pontremoli at 10.00 am and a distance of close to 11 kilometres from my start in Previde. The Piazza seemed full of people and parked cars as I found my way to a free table outside a small cafe and whilst I was enjoying coffee and croissants I sat and reflected on the events of the previous day, realising how fortunate I had been to experience such a wonderful moment of kindness and hospitality. After leaving Pontremoli I missed the river crossing that would have taken me to the left bank of the River Magra and rather than return to correct the error I continued along the right bank of the river passing through the villages of Novoleto, Ponte Teglia, and Talavorno to arrive at the outskirts of Villafranca in Lunigiana. I decided to bypass Villafranca and take the Via Francigena cycle path to Lusuolo where I found a small apartment, Nonna Nella, with wonderful views of the valley below. Today had been another long 12 hours, and 30 kilometre day so after a brief tour of the small village, with its main attraction the Castello di Lusuolo closed, I retired to the comfort of my room and prepared supper.