Distance: 17.8 km – Elevation +150 m -200 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 23 degrees
Today was another short distance of 17 kilometres so again no rush and as I made my way out of Viterbo I visited the small Chiesa di Santa Giacinta Marescotti. I love visiting small churches at the start of a day’s walking, they always seem so quiet and peaceful and I am able to sit and reflect on days past. This morning I was reflecting on new friendships and goodbyes. It seems that in the past 2 weeks, since San Miniato, I have met and made friends with many Italians and enjoyed their company but the moments of companionship are all too brief – last night was my third farewell dinner in the past 7 days! The route out of Viterbo was through the old town and the San Pellegrino district and later the path was through the extraordinary section along the roads created by the Etruscans where a path was cut through the tuff – a softish rock made from the natural compaction of volcanic ash – it was like walking through a rocky tunnel. After the Etruscan road, the path is a little up and down along country lanes and tracks passing pasture and olive groves. I passed through the gate that completely shuts off the path and its opening is at first a mystery – I had read other pilgrims passing this way never found the solution and had to resort to climbing over the gate. Around midday, I came to a rest area where I was able to sit awhile and enjoy lunch with expansive views across the vast flatness before me. An information board tells me “ You have just crossed a vast plain with calcareous rocks and imposing ruins of the Roman era. It’s the thermal area called “Masse di San Sisto”. Here Roman aristocrats built their villas to use and benefit from the healing properties of warm mineral waters that spring out from underground. Before then this region was even inhabited by Etruscans so that the Romans called the spa “Terme Etrusche”. You are now in a place called “Casale Quartuccio”; thanks to the dominant position you can see down to the sea. In the past there was a watchtower for Saracen raids. The hills that slope towards the coast are very suitable for the cultivation of Olive trees. This practice is very old: Olive trees came from West Asia about 6000 years ago and spread to all Mediterranean countries.” I arrived in Vetrella just after 2.00 pm and sat in a bar in the quiet town centre and enjoyed a refreshing glass of beer, and then made my way to my accommodation located on the outskirts of the town. I had considerable difficulty locating the property and walked past it several times. During that time I met a young German pilgrim sitting at a bus stop with a heavily strapped ankle. He told me it was ligament damage and he was waiting for a bus to start his journey back home to Germany. Eventually, I located the Case Pace, a large private house where I was met by the owner’s mother who spoke very good English. I had the entire house to myself. There was a supermarket just 100 metres away from the house where I was able to buy food and wine for my evening meal.