Thursday 23 October.
It was a lovely breakfast this morning. Homemade muesli, yoghurts, jams and honeys, bread, croisants, cake, cheese, ham and orange juice. The only thing they skimped on was the coffee. We had a small cup each from a tiny percolator then he asked if we would like more and got the same again. We had finished packing before breakfast so it was straight off afterwards, just some photographs to take first. Our host suggested a quicker route for us to take but we have enough problems on waymarked ones without attempting the unknown.
The only hill of the day was out of Roppolo and it climbed quite steeply to the top of the town. Roppolo turned out to be quite big with houses all the way up the hill. There was the inevitable chateau overlooking the town and another nice looking restaurant as the road levelled out. From now on it was flat or slightly downhill, we were able to stride out and make good time but in the end it gets a bit boring and monotonous. After 3.5 km we reached Cavaglia, I expected another small village but it turned out to be a fairly large bustling town.
There was another castle and we missed a turning. It was a case again of the sun low in the sky blinding us as we headed east.
We came to a busy main road and realised we had gone wrong and backtracked only about 50m to pick up quiet lane. The route more or less followed the main road to Santhia on country lanes and gravel tracks. Suddenly the scenery changed from flat as far as the eye could see to snowy top mountains. At first we thought we had gone the wrong way and were heading back to the Alps but this was a different range. The ones we had crossed a week ago were still visible but now far in the distance. We had crossed the Turin to Milan motorway and this range of mountains ran parallel with the road running west to east but some kilometres away. The highest of he mountains had a really thick covering of snow and was impressive.
Moving forward again and ahead it was flat, we crossed a small canal and zig-zagged between fields to the town of Santhia.
I remarked to Moira that this town was like the ones on the Camino de Santiago in that you can see them ahead of you but they don't seem to get any closer. We had been walking for 3 hours, it had been cool initially but now the sun was higher in the sky and getting warmer, we needed a break. As soon as we got into the town there was a convenient bench and I soon had the cooker out for some tea. We didn't rush to get started again, we had only 8.5 km to do and it was only just after 11am. It was mid-day when we eventually got moving and felt better for the long rest.
After walking through an attractive town centre with nice shops we came to the railway station and made the first of three crossing of the railway line. On the other side was a large canal and the road ran straight beside it as far as the eye could see. We thought it was going to be a boring walk along the road to San Germano Vercellese as there didn't appear to be a decent towpath. Luckily when the quiet road joined a major one the VF turned away from the canal and crossed the railway again to a gravel track through farmlands. It was still flat and we made excellent time striding briskly over the good surface. The waymarks had been first class all day but suddenly we came to a y-junction where the signpost had been knocked over and lay in a ditch. There was no other indication which fork to take but we knew we had to cross over the railway line again and could see a bridge over it to the right. We went that way but didn't see any more waymarks. Once over the railway we picked up a path that ran parallel with the line and followed that. We should have taken the left fork and crossed another bridge further along but our path met up with the route anyway, so everything worked out well.
Where we met the VF route again was at the entrance to San Germano Vercellese and we took the road to the town centre and the church, we could see the tower in the distance. Moira had our location and the position of the hotel we were heading for on the iPad but we still had to ask directions to find it. The Leon d'Oro wasn't an expensive looking hotel but the service was good, we were immediately shown our room. It wasn't en suite but big enough and the toilets and showers were just down the hall. When we arrived there was a notice, menu of the day 10€, we went down after depositing our rucksacks, before the restaurant closed. We both had the same pasta in a meat sauce to start, very good, then pork fried in batter with chips, not so nice. We had a carafe of red wine, it was fizzy but all right.
After lunch we went to our room and relaxed for an hour before having a shower. The water was piping hot and it relieved the stiffness after our walk. Even though we didn't have the bathroom in our room it was luxury, beautifully tiled and the shower really good. There wasn't any WiFi at all so we spent the time reading, doing a crossword and listening to some music from the iPad. We had sandwiches and an apple for 'dinner' in the room. Below our window were the tables outside the bar and where the smokers congregated, it was quite noisy with people talking . Later when we put out the light to get to sleep there were still people chattering but it didn't last long and we slept all right.