Distance: 24.3 km – Elevation +700 m -670 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 31 degrees
It was 7.00 am as I passed by Sarzana Cathedral – the Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, and it was closed as it was last evening. I passed, on the way out of town, the Sarzana fortress – the Fortezza Castruccio Castracani which was also closed. Soon I was in open countryside with wide views across the wooded valley to the Apuan Alps beyond. It was all flat walking today and the time quickly passed as I walked through a succession of small communities to reach Avenza. Despite the flat walking today my legs felt tired from the three previous days crossing the Apennines and I decided to take a more direct and shorter route into Massa rather than follow the Via Francigena. It followed a busy secondary road and five kilometres from my destination I came to what is best described as a transport café – the Trattoria Ristorante Bum Bum. It was 2.00 pm and the large and full restaurant was buzzing with the noise of chatting lorry drivers. Finding a spare table I ordered a cold beer and the set meal – a large plate of spaghetti Bolognese which came with a salad and a full basket of bread – cost including the beer was 15 euro. I really enjoyed that unusual and unexpected moment. I often find that if I go off piste, away from the usual route, the unexpected happens! I had booked into the Hotel Annunziata and arrived at the hotel just after 5.00 pm. The hotel was an absolute delight and run and owned by a delightful gentleman who asked me in excellent English “ Are you going to Rome to see Papa”. The hotel was situated in the quiet back streets of Massa, some 6 kilometres from the sea, which I had still not seen. It was too far to walk after a long day of 25 kilometres and knowing that I had decided to follow the coast line tomorrow I stayed local to the hotel and after a shower and rest I found a small restaurant where I enjoyed a not too large pizza and a glass or two of a tasty white produced in the local vineyards. The Monteregio di Massa Marittima wine region produces Tuscany’s best white wines.