Distance: 24.1 km – Elevation +30 m -80 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 31 degrees
I enjoyed a good breakfast before leaving the hotel at 8.00 am to wend my way through the back streets of Massa to reach the sea, a walk of close to 6 kilometres. Local residents were out for a morning stroll and as I walked through one of the neighbourhoods a gentleman with a long loaf of bread under one arm and a newspaper in the other hand stopped and enquired “Via Francigena?” and he pointed in the opposite direction to that I was walking, smiling I said “Buongiorno – yes but first I must visit the sea” – he nodded his acknowledgment with a smile and continued on his way. With rested legs and an eagerness to see the Tyrrhenian sea I soon reached the seafront. It was a glorious morning with a clear blue sky and the sun not yet too hot but although I could smell and feel the sea air, I could still not see the sea. The promenade at this point was mostly private beaches sealed from view by boarding. I ventured into one and sat at the beachside bar expecting to be asked to leave but I was served with a smile and I sat enjoying a cup of coffee watching people arriving and getting themselves beneath the beachside umbrellas ready for a day by the sea. The seafront from Massa ran for around 15 kilometres to my intended destination of Viareggio and the time passed quickly as I mingled with other walkers on the promenade. I began to feel the heat of the sun as it rose high in the sky and I stopped to buy a wide-brimmed straw hat from one of the beachside stalls to provide added protection from the sun’s rays. I stopped for a lunch break at the Marina di Pietrasanta. I arrived in Viareggio and my hotel, Le Petite Maison, at 5.00 pm feeling relaxed and refreshed after my day by the sea. The hotel was just a 10-minute walk from the beach and after resting and preparing myself for tomorrow I joined the “locals” for a stroll along the promenade. I sat at a small beachside bar and enjoyed a gin and tonic served with the usual nuts and crisps and later after supper as the sun was setting, I walked along the beach paddling and listening to the gentle sound of the waves as they arrived on the shore. It was a beautiful balmy evening in Viareggio. Tomorrow will be my 43rd consecutive day of walking since my last rest day in Langres and I had decided several weeks back that I would take a few days rest in Lucca as my arrival coincides with the Puccini Festival. I enjoy opera immensely, especially those composed by Puccini and I have tickets for a live performance of Tosca at the open-air theatre by the lake in Torre del Largo on the 12th of August.