It was odd to see pilgrims in the distance, both in front and behind me. Though too much company had disadvantages, it was nice to have friends on the road.
The Italian woman in my room had told me all of Fidenza, the goal for the day, was booked. At least the inexpensive side of it. She’d spent an hour or so, phoning around to find accommodation for herself and anyone else who needed it.
I hadn’t asked her to find a place for me. I was uncertain of what exactly I was going to do, and I hated to be tied down to a set of plans I’d feel I had to honour. Besides, likely from all the tarmac we’d walked, I had jabs of pains in my lower legs, and I was starting to feel like maybe the VF wasn’t the trail for me.
With going home early, I wouldn’t be reaching Rome. Regardless. The revised plan had been to reach Aulla. This meant, upon walking the 23 km or so (on paved roads) to Fidenza, I would then have to walk 34 km to Fornovo, all of which was on tarmac, except for about 5 km of it. Then three 20 km days and the last of over 30 km to reach it.
Chiaravalle della Colomba
The first town was Chiaravalle della Colomba. If down this way, make sure to stop at the Abbey. It was a lovely, peaceful place with the musty smell of old.
According to the official VF website, the town had a grocery store, but we didn’t see it. If walking this trail, plan on walking way more miles than it says on their website. Very few amenities are on the VF and, a number of times, I questioned the mileage itself. I don’t believe it’s always correct.
Overpasses and Traffic Circles
The first overpass of the day was right after Chiaravalle. Wide open fields stretched on either side.
Birds on the wire may have enjoyed the view, but my legs were starting to complain seriously of the walking surface, even with thick insoles. It was hard to appreciate the landscape.
A Bit Of Fun
Some owners had decorated their yards with scarecrows. It gave me a bit of a laugh. And how impressive was the creativity? Right?
By the time I reached the outskirts of Fidenza, I was angry. I’d navigated enough overpasses in the last few days and way too many traffic circles, and the ache in my legs had grown constant; needles of pain started at the top of the foot and poked at the underneath of my kneecaps. Despite all efforts to ignore these, I was hobbling. Badly.
What Do I Do?
The Hotel Astoria overlooked the main entrance to the city. Thinking of what the Italian woman had said about lower-end accommodation being full, I went in and asked for an inexpensive room. The woman at the desk found me one and gave me a pilgrim’s discount, but the room wasn’t quite ready. So I walked over to their restaurant, plopped down my pack and ordered a large meal with shrimp. It cost me half the price of the room.
I was the only one not dressed up in the restaurant, and without a shower, I smelled a bit, but I didn’t care. The anger continued to bubble. Maybe it might be time to stop. I wasn’t enjoying the trail, anymore.
Without the Camino and the TMB to compare it to, I might have felt differently. But there was no escaping my memories, embellished as they might have been.
My tiny room was under the eave, but it was clean, had a large bathroom and a cute balcony looking out on the square. Compared to some of the places I’d stayed in, it was paradise.
Before I went to sleep I refrained from making a quick decision on whether I’d get up and walk. Tomorrow was soon enough to decide.