On ancient tracks

Day  4 on the Via Francigena – from Colle di Val d’Elsa to Monteriggioni

There are so many  happiness moments on a pilgrimage walk. Although the Via Francigena is not as famous as the Camino de Santiago in Spain it is by no means less spectacular with its architectural marvels, cultural heritage and natural beauty.

On the fourth day of our walk we took the alternative route from Colle di Val d’Elsa along the River Elsa. For centuries the local inhabitants have revered the river as a source of life and livelihood. The  turquoise water comes in different hues and shades, contrasting with the luscious green surrounding forest.   Sunlight reflects from the fish swimming against the current from the waterfalls.

A pathway snakes through dense forest, taking  the hiker to the left and right of the river over natural stone pathways through shallow parts of the waters.

After rejoining the main route to Monteriggioni a friendly farmer In his SUV stopped to say hello proudly showing his pet in the passenger seat – a pigeon perched on a little wooden ladder, apparently looking very comfortable being taken for a drive.

A well marked route – cyclists have a separate path

For many sections the Via Francigena offers complete solitude with very few pilgrims on the path. It is well signposted and there are separate paths for cyclists who at times can be of particular annoyance to slow-walking pilgrims on the Camino Frances in Spain.

Walking on medieval mule tracks

The Via Francigena in parts follows the medieval mule tracks used by traders, wayfarers and pilgrims that was part of the network of roads between the most important Christian strongholds of Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela.

A visit to the abbey at  Abbadia Isola Ostella offers a glimpse of these times. The abbey was founded around 1001 by the noblewoman Ava of the Lambardi di Staggia family, and for many centuries offered respite for pilgrims. The Romanesque church with three naves and three apses is surrounded by a small hamlet with the remains of the medieval fortifications.  Among the precious works of art in the church is the polyptych of the main altar created in the 15th century by the Siena born artist Sano di Pietro..  

From there the walk is up a steep hill to the largely still intact medieval fortification surrounding the village of Monteriggioni.

It is a great privilege to do this walk. This walk is dedicated to the many pilgrims, especially those coming from afar such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, who have had to cancel their plans this year due to the Covid-19  travel restrictions.

Only a few countries in Europe are currently still open for travel with the likelihood of more restrictions coming in the wake of a further spike in Covid-19 infections.

So many pilgrims, who are unable to travel this year, are reliving their past walks, going through their journals and picture albums. Memories from deep walking experiences stay for a lifetime.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

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Filed under Camino de Santiago, spirituality

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