Monday 27 October.
We were awake at 5 am this morning, not used to the clock change yet. We lay reading after I made a cup of coffee until it was time to pack then go for breakfast. It was croissants and coffee, I made sure to ask for 'cafe con latte' and we got a little pot of the black tar and a pot double the size with hot milk. We managed a cup each.
When we left the sun was up but it was cold, Moira had her rain jacket on to keep warm and I wore my waterproof pants. Before getting on the trail we visited the Basilica,
it was now very quiet and we were able to wander around, the main features were the huge domed ceiling and the ornate altar. The walls were painted with murals and there were some nice stained glass windows.
The markers for the VF started outside the church and we were back onto the side of the dry canal. The path was all right at first but then it became overgrown with long grass and it was wet with the early morning dew, our feet were soon soaking. We could see the town of Garlasco over to the right and the main route that went that way, joined us some distance along the canal. It was on the towpath now all the way to Gropello Cairoli.
On the outskirts there was odd shaped buildings all then same in a row. When we got closer it turned it to be a cemetery and the buildings were individual places for different family mauseliums . It was huge.
The town was another quite large place and the church at the entrance was rather strange. It had what looked like a fairly new front facade with a statue on top of what appeared to be St George killing a dragon. Behind this beautiful frontage was the main church, the building was of crumbling old red brick. Our route took us along the main street which was busy with people shopping.
Once out of the town we were on a country lane that ran parallel with a busy road before veering away to follow irrigation channels through the fields. The next place was a village, Villanuova d'Ardenghi, high on a hill. This was the first hill we have had to climb since the Valle d'Aosta. At the top and in the village centre we found a bench, they had them, for weary travellers, at intervals along the street; there we had our morning cuppa.
On the go again it was downhill on the other side of the village then flat again. The route followed a minor road for a few kilometres before turning onto a grassy track that ran on the bank of the river Ticino. The track sometimes grassy and at others a gravel path followed the river all the way into Pavia. It became a wide river that had a sandy shore of white sand. It was a change from the flat rice fields and as it undulated slightly we used some different muscles.
It was lovely river scenery and a lot of the paths went through trees. There was only one slight difficulty, we came to a part of the path that was flooded. We tried to make our way round the deluge but there was no way. In the end we waded through. We stopped at a picnic table just before the motorway on the outskirts of Pavia and had our lunch. After our break the river path went under the motorway bridge then the railway followed by another road before coming up onto the road at the Ponte Coperta, a beautiful old covered bridge.
We took the road down from the Ponte Coperta then missed our turning to the hostel. Moira had to get the iPad out to see where we were then backtracked about 500m. The web site had said that it was only open from 6 pm until 8 pm but when we rang the bell a guy let us in. He said he wasn't in charge but was attached to the church but he did all the paper work anyway and showed us to a small 3 bedded dorm. There was a kitchen and Moira went out to find a supermarket for food. I stayed in, made up our bunks with sheets and pillows cases provided then had a shower. Moira got all she needed to make a curry with the roast chicken that was left from two days ago. It was very nice and a curry made a change from what we have been eating recently.
The hostel was very nice and modern. The kitchen and dining room were beautiful and the floors tiled. There were one or two other people staying but we had our dorm to ourselves. There was WiFi and Suzy contacted us again on FaceTime, Hollie was feeling better and getting ready to go to bed. The woman arrived at 6 pm for the official opening time of the hostel for booking in and I asked her to phone about accommodation for tomorrow. She spoke good English and was happy to phone, it was successful and we have a place at a church hall in the village of Santa Christina.
After dinner and the washing up done we went to the dorm and I tuned into the radio on the Internet. We lay on our bunks and read while listening to some comedy shows for the BBC. We got to sleep,about 9 pm and it was very quiet and peaceful.