Sunday 26 October.
We knew that the clocks were due to go back sometime soon but didn't check exactly when. On leaving our hotel everything seemed very quiet and the streets deserted but we put that down to being Sunday. When we reached the town of Tromello I looked at the clock on the church tower and thought we have covered 14 km in only 2 hours. I then realised that the clocks must have changed last night. Moira texted Suzy and she confirmed it.
When we left Montara Moira led the way along the street she found last night and it was 2 minutes to get back on the VF. It was well waymarked to the church at Abbazia di San Accuina then something went wrong. The signs did take us onto the SS596 road but after going 500 m there were no more indications we were on the VF. Moira checked the map and it showed that we should have been somewhere to the right among the rice fields. The road had a wide shoulder and it was quiet, also the VF eventually came near the road shortly after the town of Remondo. We set out along the road at a good pace and it wasn't long before we passed the village Remondo. There was some waymarks now pointing down a gravel track which we took but soon realised we would be going a long way down the track to then come back again when the route headed towards the road. We returned and continued on the road, which was still quiet, until we came to the turning that joined the VF just about 50 m from the highway. Once on a nice track it was a relief to get away from the traffic even though it was light.
It was a winding track through the fields before it crossed the SS596 and into Tromello. That was when we 'gained an hour', so had plenty of time in hand. Instead of two hours it was three that we had been walking and feeling tired, ready for a break and a cup of tea. It was a long walk through the outskirts before reaching the centre and there wasn't a bench or good place to sit. When we reached the town centre and man shouted to us and wanted to know if we wanted our credentials stamped. Moira hadn't got them done at the hotel last night and it was a good opportunity to get a record of our time here. He now led us up to near the church and told us where the pilgrim accommodation was, but it was too early to stop here. He took us to what was either a barbers shop or a bar and stamped our cards. Next he enquired about where we were staying tonight. (Don't get the impression that he spoke English or our Italian had improved, it was all done in sign language and guessing). Eventually we were stuck and he went and got a young chap who was out at stall near the church selling something, he spoke English. The outcome of it all was that they phoned a hotel at the Santuario Basilica Madonna della Bozzole and got us booked in there. I photographed the pair of them and they gave me a packet of biscuits to eat along the way. A little later, a few streets away, there was a bus shelter and we had the biscuits with a cup of tea.
It was 7 km to the Santario Basilica and it was off-road. Part of it was beside a large canal but it was completely dry, I don't know if there was a drought or the water had been diverted elsewhere.
I had copied the route from Cicerone, it was different from the official VF way which went through the town of Garlasco. but this alternative was in actual fact waymarked and we reached the Santuario Basilica without any problem. It was just a small place with the huge domed church dominating the square. The hotel Margarita was on the side of the square so we found it easily, for a change.
We were shown to our room and we booked for lunch at 12:30 pm. The room was nice and en suite. The radiators were on and the room was warm; we showered and washed our clothes then hung them over the radiators to dry. Once clean and changed we went down for lunch. We had pasta with a tomato sauce, roast pork and a green salad and the half a thimble of strong black coffee. There was also a bottle of red wine included, it was fizzy but tastes all right once the bubbles have settled.
At last we had WiFi and I was able to get my blogs up to date and sent off a couple of emails. We were also able to listen to the radio via the Internet. Later in the afternoon we walked over to see the Basilica. There was a service taking place and it was crowded with tourists. We sat inside for a while and admired the magnificent domed roof but we couldn't stroll about. The original church was built on the site of a vision, by a deaf and dumb girl, of the Virgin Mary. She regained her hearing and speech while sheltering from the rain in a grotto where the vision occurred. When we went outside again there wasn't much to see and decided to return to our room, it was starting to get cold. Suzy phoned on FaceTime later and we saw Hollie, she hasn't been keeping very well this week but is getting better.
Moira checked on the Internet for a place to stay in Pavia tomorrow. All the hotels were expensive but she got the people here to phone the Youth hostel in Pavia and we are booked there. It wasn't cheap either, €50. We had what we usually have for lunch now in the room and then listened to the radio. It was now dark just after 6 pm with the hour's difference but if we leave in the mornings at 7 am the sun will be up.