Distance: 23.5 km – Elevation +590 m -720 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 33 degrees
Lusuolo was an interesting small village with its imposing 12th-century castle built high above the valley of the River Magra to protect the valley and an ancient ford below. The village was just beginning to awaken as I walked through its narrow streets. It had been a warm and muggy night but this morning it was a little fresher as I wend my on a downward track to the river below. I was heading for Aulla where I could join again the Via Francigena trail. After passing through Barbarasco I reached the bridge that crosses the Magra at Terrarossa at 8.30 am and just after I rejoined the Via Francigena. and walked into Aulla. After a break for coffee, I visited the Abbey of San Caprasio. Today was going to be my last day in the Apennines and certainly, today’s walk left a lasting memory of the beauty of these mountains. From Aulla the path climbs through woodlands along dirt roads and mule tracks, first coming to the hilltop hamlet of Bibola with its Byzantine origins. Shortly after Bibola, I find a picnic area where I can rest in the shade and enjoy a packed lunch of bread, cheese, and tomatoes. Duly rested I followed the path as it descends to the narrow streets of the village of Vecchietto. Next is a tough rocky climb, so steep in places I have to resort to using both hands and feet as I climb to the peak of today’s walk at a height of 600 metres, the “Quattro Strade”, where pilgrims glimpse their first view of the sea. Unfortunately today the view is obscured by trees and their summer foliage. From the top the path for the next 2 kilometres descends rapidly with a reduction in altitude of 300 metres to the small village of Ponzano Superiore. During the descent through the woods, I lost my way and struggled along an unused narrow path with dense undergrowth eventually finding myself on the road leading back up Ponzano Superiore. It was late afternoon, around 4.00 pm, when I arrived in the village where I found a bar open and was able to sit and rest with a cold beer and after with the help of the lady owner of the bar I found my way out of the village. The path to Sarzana passes the ruins of the Castello della BrinaIt and then follows the river Magra to reach the town centre. It was 6.00 pm as I arrived at my lodgings for the night, a small guest house, the Casa Marieta, Later I found a Pizzeria in the Piazza Matteotti, close to Sarzana Cathedral where I sat outside and enjoyed a very tasty pizza reflecting on what had been another special day as I watched the evening passeggiatat as the town came to life at 9.00 pm on a warm summer’s evening.