Saturday 25 October.
We wrapped up well before leaving this morning thinking it would be cold again. Moira had on her leggings and I wore my waterproof trousers. I had on my beanie and a pair of socks as gloves. It turned out we needn't have bothered it was quite mild and soon all the extras were off and packed away. There was a thin covering of cloud and this stopped the sun blinding us for a change.
I had the street map for Vercelli to guide us out of the city. The route was round the Cathedral and down a busy road but it had a cycle way for us to walk on. We then crossed a bridge over the river Fiume Sesia and out of town. We were on a busy road for about half a kilometre, made worse with road works and we had to be very careful.
Once off the road and out into the countryside it was more flat walking. We were on a raised embankment running between the fields of rice, it looked as if it may have originally been a railway line. We passed a group of hunters out among the tree, their dogs were busy scurrying about flushing out birds or animals while the owners waited their shotguns cradled over their arms ready to fire. It must have been a day for hunting because as we progressed the sounds of gunfire could be heard from all around the fields.
The area being so flat all the towns and villages have water towers to distribute the water. While in France we could spot a town from a distance by the spire of the church here you can see the habitation by the tall water towers. The one for Palestra was visible for some time but the track seemed to circle round the town before heading through the fields towards it. Now from closer a viewpoint we could see the church spire and the tower of a castle. Just before entering there was a nice wall to sit on and it was time for our morning cup of tea.
For the next section, to the town of Robbio, Cicerone said that the waymarked route took a wide loop to avoid walking along the road, but it reckoned that the road wasn't a busy one and it would save a couple of kilometres. We thought about today's 32 km and anything to reduce it was welcome, we took the road. It wasn't that quiet but there was a little shoulder with a verge of rough grass in case of emergencies. It saved us about half an hour and we picked up the official route when we got into Robbio. It was another fairly large town but the route avoided the centre and we were soon out on a gravel track through the fields again. The route wasn't altogether very interesting, lots of fields of rice and the only attraction was watching the harvester at work as we passed. The hills and mountains of the last few days had disappeared somewhere behind us and it was flat to the horizons.
It was 6 km to Nicorvo and it was another town where we could see it from a distance but the road seemed to avoid it. We came to a cemetery just before the town with benches and there we had lunch. When we started again the road seemed to be by-passing the town then doubled back into the centre. This one wasn't very big and we were soon out of it. After a stretch on the road it was off onto paths following irrigation channels and ditches through the rice fields. The waymarking was a bit sparse at times but we were heading on a route between the main road and the railway so couldn't go far wrong. At the little hamlet of Madonna del Campo we had a 5 minute rest at the church before the final 3 km to Montara. It should have been only 3 km but it must have worked out double that. After a long detour to cross the railway line we began to look for our hotel, Albergo della Toure. Moira had an electronic pin on the map in her iPad and we followed that but it was somehow wrongly position and led us out of town at the other end. We began asking directions and were sent one way then the other, everyone having a different idea of where the hotel was. At last we found a man who spoke English and he said he was going that way and to follow him. We had been told to be there before 4pm or we would have to wait until it re-opened at 5:30 pm. We had reached the town at just after 3 pm and it was now approaching 4 pm. The man got us there just in time and we were shown to our room straight away, documentation etc could wait for later they were going for their break.
The room was small but better than last night's, it was also en suite and the bathroom looked good. One thing we can't understand about all these hotels is the lighting. In the bedrooms the lighting is poor and even with all the available lamps on it is difficult to read, but the bathrooms are like Blackpool illuminations. Moira went out again immediately to see about something for dinner, I stayed in and and a shower and a cup of coffee. Moira found the way we should have come to the hotel and it was only a few minutes from the road we came in on. She also found a mini-supermarket and got a roast chicken for dinner and a packet of mushroom soup.
After dinner I washed up the few dishes and Moira went down to fill in the forms and pay the bill. She also asked them to phone about accommodation for tomorrow. The one available hotel on our list was full but their was a pilgrim refuge further on, another 30 km walk then tomorrow. As we go along we will enquire about other places. Without WiFi or the Internet it is a problem arranging anything with the language difficulties. We got to bed wondering where we would sleep tomorrow, will it be our first night in the tent we have been carrying all the way from Canterbury ?