Tuesday 21 October.
It was another nice looking day, a slight scattering of cloud but no chance of rain. It was a bit cooler in the morning and perfect for walking, it warmed up after mid-day and we had to get our fleeces packed away. Breakfast wasn't as good as yesterday's, just orange juice, a croissant and coffee. The WiFi was all right downstairs in the bar and we managed to download the newspaper and I published my blog.
We thought the route today would be flat but it was up and down until about halfway at Borgofranco. It took us up at times to avoid the main road where we walked along the terraces with vines on frames on either side. Other times we climbed to visit a church which invariably were built on the tops of hills overlooking the town or village. It was still a very interesting route amongst the vines and through some 'olde worlde' villages.
The problem we are having in Italy is knowing exactly where we are at any particular time. There are very rarely any indication of the names of villages or towns, and where there is a sign it will say the Commune of 'such and such', this doesn't mean you have reached that actual town and you usually find that the centre of the commune is some kilometres away.
The route was to pass through Carema, Torredaniele, Cesnola, before reaching Pieve di San Lorenzo. We don't know if we did go through these places as we zig-zagged up and down the hillside passing different sets of houses congregated around a church. A few times we got on the wrong track, there were a number of different routes waymarked and easy to pick the wrong one. But we soon found our way again by dropping towards the main road below and down the valley. When we reached Pieve di San Lorenzo it was named and we had to climb a steep lane to reach the historic chapel with the tall square tower at the top. We stopped there for a cup of tea and a biscuit, it was a pleasant quiet spot and a welcomed breather after a tough climb.
We were now coming out of the high mountains and we could see the end of the ranges on either side of the valley tapering and flat open countryside ahead. Out track now descended on a narrow rocky path to pick up a wide flat gravel lane that took us to the town of Borgofranco d'Ivrea. There we found a bench in the square to have an early lunch. While we had our bread and cheese, Gorgonzola today, we consulted our maps and guide book to see how far to go. The little map book said 7.5km, while Cicerone had it at 10 km. we weren't sure which was right and even if they were following the official waymarks. We followed the VF waymarks and it didn't tie in with either.
Below one of the VF waymarks along the route there was a quotation from Nelson Mandela. It was in Italian, naturally, and the best translation I could get that more or less matched this saying of his I found later in Google:
I am not a messiah but an ordinary man who became a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.
After lunch we were hoping that it would continue to be flat to the finish. No such luck, the VF managed to find another hill, but the climb was worth while as it led to just below a wonderful castle/ chateau on top, the Castello di Montalto. The track circled round below the hilltop and made its way round a large pond. There was a view point on the other side and looking back over the water the castle dominated the scene. From there it was a delightful walk through the woods on a carpet of leaves and pine needles. We weren't sure exactly where we were but soon we crossed a busy road near habitation to a leafy lane that ran parallel. Soon it became a built-up area and suddenly we came to a Lidl supermarket in Ivrea. Moira did some shopping and then we went in search of our hotel. We went the wrong way at first then had to backtrack to the other side of town before we found it by asking numerous people for directions.
It was much the same as we have became used to but this time we were able to get WiFi in the room. After showering we stretched out on the bed and read the parer while listening to the radio. At 6:30 pm we went out to find a place to eat. We fancied a pizza tonight and in every little town we have been in there were dozens of pizzeria or restaurants but here nothing. In the end we walked all the way back to the other end of town where we were earlier before finding a place. It was a mild evening and it was a pleasant stroll with a large castle with turreted towers at each corner looming over us in the darkening sky. For dinner we shared a nice pizza but the carafe of house wine we had tasted a bit rough even by our standards. Our hunger satisfied we had the long walk back to our hotel again. We will have to come out this way in the morning once more to pick up the VF route out of town.
Back in our room Moira booked accommodation in the next town along the route, Roppolo. We tried to contact a pilgrim hostel but there was no answer on the phone so we are in a B&B this time. We listened to more radio until about 10pm then got to sleep.