Day 87 Montefiascone to Viterbo – 26th August

Today was a relatively short walk of 18 kilometres mostly downhill and on the flat. So I took a leisurely breakfast and whilst sitting waiting, I was reflecting on the fact that in just 5 days I will arrive in Rome at the end of this stage of my pilgrimage to Jerusalem when I was surprised to see Chiara and Valentina enter the breakfast room. They invited me to join them and told me that had originally booked to stay in the Convent but after finding there was a curfew requiring the doors of the Convent to be locked at 9.00 pm had decided to book into this hotel. I had not enjoyed the company of other pilgrims at breakfast since leaving Jean-Pierre in the Aosta Valley, it was a lovely way to start my day. After I walked through the old town and climbed to the Rocca dei Papi and the Pilgrim Tower and visited the beautiful small Church of Santa Maria della Neve where I was able to stamp my pilgrim’s credential. I took a last look at the magnificent views across the valley below and passing the sculpture of two pilgrims walking, which bears the inscription “Forget the steps you have taken, remember the marks you I have left”, I took a last view of the beautiful Lake Bolsena and said goodbye to Montefiascone. On the way out of the town, I stopped in a small shop and bought bread, cheese, and fruit for lunch. It was a long 5 kilometre descent and I found myself walking on well-preserved sections of the ancient Via Cassia. It is an extraordinary feeling to walk on ancient Roman roads thinking of all those feet that have passed this way during the past 2000 years. There were also wonderful views looking back to Montefiascone sitting on top of the strategic hill on which it was built. I passed a large flock of sheep being cared for by the shepherd and his dogs and there were distant views of the Apennines as I came to the thermal baths of Bagnaccio. I would like to have stopped to rest in the thermal waters but it was Sunday and the baths were crowded so I continued on to Viterbo. I had booked a small apartment for my night’s stay and whilst trying to find it, Chiara and Valentina arrived and helped me with the directions. They also invited me to join them and other pilgrims for dinner later in the evening. As I was settling in to the apartment I received a frantic call from the manager of the hotel I had stayed in last night saying I had left without paying. Normally the agency I use for hotel bookings pay the hotel directly and charge me, but on this occasion, they had not. I offered to pay the hotel with my credit card but they didn’t accept cards, so the hotel manager said he would drive to Viterbo and collect the required cash which I was happy to do. Later I took a stroll around the historical centre and San Pellegrino district and in the evening I enjoyed dinner with 12 other pilgrims, many of whom I had previously met. The La Chimera Ristorante was an absolute delight and with the wine flowing it was a very convivial and enjoyable evening. As we departed I said goodbye to Chiara and Valentina who were returning home tomorrow and others I hoped to see in Rome.

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