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Labro to Grecco

Day Three of walking

Labro to Grecco

16 km 7 hours –

Our room in Labro. Sam had to really watch his head.

Today my legs told me that it should be a day off. Being in a medieval town atop a mountain is not an easy place to be with sore calf muscles. Sam felt much the same. Then to have to read that we would be going downhill for 300 metres then to rise up to 750 metres didn’t help.

The owner of the house we were staying in in Labro suggested that we might be keen on a ‘flower’ holiday. New to us and on further enquiry he described it as staying in one spot and venturing out to various places from there.

The streets of Labro

His establishment was suited more to staying in the one spot and not going very far as it was quite beautiful and peaceful. We thought of it as a place to write or draw from. And wished we were!!

Fresco in church at Labro

Before leaving we climbed to the church at the top of the village and enjoyed yet more frescos.

We were ready to go at 10.30. It would be another 2 days of walking before we would have a rest day!

Our attempts to buy our lunch (roll with prosciutto and cheese) failed at the village, but we were told that we could purchase at the next hill top town.

Lunches being made

The delightful part about the next small village was that not only were we able to buy our lunch we also found a great spot to have a coffee. The shop keeper generously gave us cake to eat as well.

Small village square

We meandered through the town, along a canal embankment where we admired fish swimming then on through the forest and grassy fields. We enjoyed our lunch around 3pm!

Up, up – It was steep!

The pleasures of this walking trip was that we were never in a hurry. There was always time to stop for the view! The biggest drudge was up the hills then to go down. Often we talk about zigzagging  paths but this felt more like ‘N’ing the path; going straight up then down before rising up again!

We left Labro at 600metres, dropped down to 350metres and then steadily rose to 750 metres. Oh, to be a bird!

The paths that were used to climb up the hills were very stoney. The same for the decent. We were so glad to have the poles as well as the instructions from Sam on how to hold them and work them.

We walked through the Sabine hills. Quite spectacular, especially the wooded areas. The tricky bit on the climbs in the forest was that we couldn’t stop as there were so many mosquitos. No good opening your mouth for an inbreath either or you would be sucking them in. and no time to stop and put the ‘bushmans’ on!!!

cyclamens carpeting the ground

The beauty of the cyclamens and other gorgeous flowers around us made the tough bits not so bad.

When the notes said ‘gird your loins’ you knew that it was going to be tough!

Looking back to the Apennine Mountains.
Signs to follow

I kept thinking if this is tough what is tomorrow going to be like as it is listed as a tough walk. This day was listed as ‘easyish in the morning with heart pumping on occasion in the afternoon!

A worn wooden sign of St Francis indicating we had reached the shrine to him.

Some of the walk which we did follows the pilgrimage route of St. Francis. His route in Italy goes from La Verna to Rome. And Greccio is a significant stop as there is a sanctuary to him there. The St Francis’ way is a pilgrimage that ‘intends to reintroduce the Franciscan experience in the lands that the Poor Man walked through on his travels’.

We made it and enjoyed a hot shower, a pleasant beer and then a quiet dinner, off to sleep thinking about ‘the hard climb to begin tomorrow!

Ferentillo to Labro

Day two of walking

Streets of Labro
The cyprus tree so typical of the area

Ferentillo to Labro

18 kms

Again we enjoyed spectacular weather. It is so good that it hasn’t rained.

When we read the forecast earlier, rain was predicted but luck was with us and not the locals who desperately need the rain.

We haven’t experienced temperatures above 28º so far and although it is tough when walking uphill in the full sun, there are enough spots to get to in the shade. Then there are the oak forests where the leaves are just beginning to unfold.

At the beginning of the walk, Alex, Sam and I took the chance to visit the Mummy Museum in Ferentillo

An intriguing place.

The bodies in here were preserved through the special conditions that they lay in. It was thought that the mummifying occurred naturally because of the conditions. It was suggested that it was a fungi in the ground.

In the 50’s the scientists in the area experimented by reconstructing the conditions and used an eagle to observe.

That eagle has been mummified.

We couldn’t find any evidence of the practice continuing and we were unable to take any photos!

What was intriguing was a Chinese couple who were visitors to the area in the 1850s and died of Cholera.

From there we were guided through winding paths following the contours up and down. We passed through a town, along a gorgeous river where rafting is a really popular pastime.

The colour of the water was an emerald green. Quite beautiful. We loved seeing the red poppies on ANZAC day spread through the fields as we walked.

We had some really hard sections to walk through. Mostly the harsh uphill stretches of really steep and rocky surfaces. As well as some down hill horrors!

It was interesting to get up close to agricultural activities such as how the grapevines were pruned and tied.

We ate our baguette beside an olive grove with what looked like ground cover of queen anne lace.

It was quite tricky to rise again and walk as our legs are beginning to tighten.

The instructions we follow are quite clear but we lose time when we need discussion to locate a sign or path.

It helped to have a GPS system on the phone to match the path we are taking (as well as ‘maps me’ – a really good app. to have to locate oneself anywhere in the world offline that is if you have downloaded the maps when on line) How did we ever do it before this. I remember when Sam and I were in Wales walking in 2000. We came across a couple with a GPS system. We thought they were cheating!! – not so now!!

Towards the end of our walk we passed through canola crops and a much easier down hill walk to a huge lake.

We stayed in 10th century restored villa in the hill top village of Labro. Labro is considered one of the most intact Medieval villages left. It has been restored under the guidance of a Belgium architect. The parents of the current owner were also Belgium, saw an article in an architectural magazine and decided to buy into the project along with many other Belgiums.

There have been some constants for us on the walk. The strongest are the sighting of the Apenine Mountains. Still with snow on the highest peaks they have been visible on the horizon when we look back after each tough climb.

Another is the cyclamen flowers often as a carpet in the forests – such glorious cover.

Patrico to Ferentillo

Rocky roads some of the way

Day one of walking

Patrico to Ferentillo

15 kms

As I write this tonight after our first day of walking I am thinking about my expectations of a walk like this and what you, the reader is thinking and wanting to know!

It was an adventure and as we move on there will be more.

The first day is always the hardest as there is so much of the unknown, even if you have walked before on these sorts of trips.

The weather was kind to us – a warm 26º and clear blue sky.

We bought a baguette with prosciutto and pecorino cheese at the local deli in Spoleto. The shop keeper prepared it for us – We also bought an apple and clementine.

Delicious to look forward to

Our backpacks filled with water bottles were really all we need for this walk.

Sunblock being applied

The walk today mostly took us through meadows as well as wooded areas.

Oak trees were a constant, so too the granite outcrops as well as marble.

We walked up and down following instructions written for us by ‘On Foot Holidays’.

We were told there would be red and white horizontal painted strips to guide – along with the instructions as well as a GPS guide (we were given instructions to download this before we left). Whilst it didn’t show the terrain it was so good to have this a secondary validation to the written instructions.

We did know we were starting at 900metres and rising to 1050 before walking downhill to 200mtrs.

Whilst this sounds very pleasant it was really tricky doing the downhill walk.

Some of which took us a very steep decline amongst an extremely rocky terrain.

We were driven from Spoleto to our stating point and left to our own devices.

It was all so beautiful area to walk through.

We felt quite privileged to be walking in an area that we in fact met very few people.

There was a German couple doing nearly the same walk except for the fact they were going to the highest points and coming across us occasionally – once to ask if we had lost a pair of sunglasses which Sam had but hadn’t missed!

At this point we were confused by our map, GPS and text guidance so it was very confirming for us to follow their lead.

We met a farmer, a woman foraging for asparagus and that was about it.

Some surprise for me were the lack of ruins along the way. Here we are in a country that has been so significant for thousands of years and the evidence of which can be seen everywhere yet we can walk across country and find very little evidence of any structures.

We fond cattle with bells grazing on the meadows.

Cow with bell. It must have been so annoying for the cow as it rang constantly

We found tadpoles in a small flowing water pass (almost like a puddle).

Because it is the beginnings of spring here we enjoyed lots of wild flowers. Hyacinths, primroses, daisies, cyclamens

.

We were really exhausted and ready for a hot shower and cold beer when we arrived at our accommodation. (agroturismo) – a modern farm like accommodation place. The beer was old but so was the water in our bathroom. Certainly awakened our senses and helped the good night sleep!!

lunch

Welcome beer at the end of the day!

Europe here we come

On Monday 16th April (Tomorrow)we will be heading to the airport to take off for Rome to spend 10 weeks wandering in Europe.
Sam has been preparing our journey in a visual way.

This map is now with Sammy, hanging on his wall, which will allow them to follow us as we move through Europe.

We have worked on some of our trip and will spend about twenty days in Italy before flying to Budapest and then it will be northward bound. It will be interesting to see how far we get. The one certainty is Budapest. And we haven’t visited Vienna or Prague.

We plan to get back to explore Rome for our last 10 days.

Walking in Umbria will certainly be a highlight of the the first few weeks.

Our walk will take us from Spoleto to Momepo

This is the planned walking trip with Robyn, Peter and Alex.