Tuesday 28 October.
We tried to get away this morning at 7 am but I got delayed by problems inserting photos into my blog and then posting it. It was about 10 minutes after the hour when we headed up to the covered bridge and into the city centre. At the bridge Moira was having trouble with her feet, she had a couple of blisters and they required more plasters. By the time she finished treating them it was nearly 7:30 am when we finally got going. I had marked a street plan we picked up at the hostel with the route out of Pavia and we followed that. Where the map ended I thought we were more or less clear of the city but it went on and on and on. It was a long road firstly lined with shops then motor showrooms followed by factories and an industrial area. Even when we forked on to a minor road we still had suburbs and outlying communities to go through until after about 6 km we reached the exit signs for Pavia. I thought we would have seen some of the attractions we missed yesterday when we went through the centre but there was only the Basilica di San Michele, the domed top we had seen from the other side of the river as we came to the covered bridge.
About another 2 km after leaving Pavia we came to the village of San Leonardo, we had a 5 minute break then continued another 6 km to. San Giacomo della Cerretta a small village with a church dedicated to St James. It had a number of depictions of pilgrims saints according to an information board outside but its doors were closed. We sat in a bus shelter instead and had a cup of coffee and a biscuit. It was then 4 km on more tarred lanes and minor roads to the bigger town of the unpronounceable. Belgioioso. It was a long straight street before we got near any shops and the hotel there was closed, so it was as well we hadn't planned to stay there. We sat on the porch of the hotel where there were still seats and had a rest before continuing.
The route following the VF markers took a big loop to avoid a main road but Cicerone gave a more direct way to Santa Cristina where we were heading. The latter saved a good few kilometres so we opted for that one. I had written down this alternative this morning before we left so I was back to navigating by the notes rather than waymarks. It went very well initially and we were still on a tarred minor road until after Torre del Negri where at last we got off-road and on a gravel track away from traffic even though it had been light. Unfortunately it wasn't for long and it got worse, the track took us to a very busy road with a lot of heavy vehicles and not a lot of room to avoid them if they got too close. It didn't last long before there was a minor road that forked into the small town of Corteolona. It was getting towards lunch time but the gas for our cooker was getting low and I wanted to preserve it as much as possible, so we went to a pub. I just wanted a beer but Moira suggested a sandwich as well. We should have stopped at restaurant earlier that was advertising a lunch menu for €10, two beers and two sandwiches cost €16. I don't know what's involved in preparing a sandwich but we were halfway through our beer before they arrived. In the end they were all right, a full baguette each with ham and salad. It was nice sitting outside in the warm sunshine, when we left this morning it was cold and misty over the river in Pavia but now it was bright and hot.
When we started off again this was the time when the Cocerone route let us down. It named a street just outside the town where turned left just afterwards on to a gravel track but we couldn't find a street with that particular name. We kept straight on instead but soon realised it was wrong and came back again. There was a gravel track to the left and we decided to try it, fortunately it was the right one and took us into Santa Cristina. We headed towards the church where the hostel was attached and as we got there pondering where it might be, a couple pointed towards a lane at the side of the church. We headed that way then some kids playing nearby directed us to the door. It was a bar and there was a of of old men playing card and drinking. The guy in charge was only interested on whether we had credentials. Moira handed over our cards, he stamped them and showed us upstairs to the room. It wasn't great but there were two beds with a nice toilet and shower attached. A review on our accommodation list said that the water was cold but now it was hot and the shower,was lovely. I made a cup of tea and we lay on the beds with it, relaxed and read for the rest of the afternoon.
Before it got dark we went out to do some shopping. It wasn't much of a town and nothing really to see, just the church with its nice square clock tower. We got yoghurt and fruit for breakfast and some wine for now. Later Moira went to the pizzeria and got a pizza for dinner. It was a big one and it only cost €6 and was very nice. Moira tried to phone the place where we hope to stay tomorrow night. The book said they were English but there was no reply to her call. She will try again in the morning.
Downstairs the old men had departed but the bar had been taken over by a younger crowd. They were very noisy but at about 8 pm they all left and the place was locked up, it seemed to be a church social club. It was cold in our room so we were covered up in bed to keep warm. We lay reading for another hour or so and then got to sleep. It was another quiet place and very peaceful.