Monday 3 November.
We wanted to get into a hostel in Sivizzano for tonight and Moira got the waitress in the restaurant last night to phone there but found that it was closed. The woman was very helpful and rang other places and eventually got us booked into somewhere attached to the church in Fornovo di Taro. Our original choice was a decent walk of about 17 km but to Fornovo it was only 12 km. So there wasn't any rush to get away this morning and are considering it a rest day.
We still wakened at 5 am and after I made a cup of tea we downloaded the newspaper and read until about 7 am. The bakery across the road that I could see from the window was open and Moira popped over for bread while I made more tea. Breakfast was just bread and jam this morning our food stocks have been depleted with the holiday. This holiday is supposed to continue today but we are hopeful that more shops will be open.
It was 8:30 am when we eventually set off this morning but we didn't wrap up expecting it to be a bit warmer by this time. There was a cold wind blowing into our faces and the rain jackets were soon out from our bags. The route when it left town followed the main road on a cycle track for about a kilometre then took a detour over a hill. It was a steep climb and that soon warmed us up.
At the top we were rewarded with a panorama of the hills we will be crossing in the next couple of days. Across the top it was a gravel track before meeting a tarred minor road which dropped sharply into the town of Felegara. It was a busy little town and the shops seemed to be all open with people carrying full bags obviously from a nearby supermarket.
The route took us through the town and under the motorway to a path running along the side of the river Taro. The water looked very low and it was just a narrow stream running down the middle but further along we came to a weir
where there was quite a bit of water flowing. It was only 10 am and we had only 5 km to walk by the river before the finish in Fornovo so we didn't bother with a stop for tea today. When we started there was a bit of cloud about but now it was clearing and we were getting warm, enough for the jackets to come off. As we approached the town through an industrial estate the track came back to the road and we crossed the river by a long bridge into Fornovo.
It wasn't a big place and the church, Santa Maria Asunta, was signposted up a steep hill in the Piazza IV Novembre. We went into the church which was open and there was a man playing the organ and another praying, we didn't
want to interrupt them so went out again. The address given in Cicerone was no 11,Via Cesare Battisti but we could find every number but that one on the street which was next to the church. We were standing outside the church wondering what to do when a woman came out and said 'perigrin' and opened the gate next to the church which had a sign outside saying it was a cinema ? She shouted for Danielle the person we were meant to contact and were then shown to the top floor of a small block of flats. Ours had a couple of dorms, a shower and toilet and a kitchen together with a huge lounge with sofas. She gave us the keys and left us, no documentation or passport check or request for payment, but there was a box on the table for a donation.
After dumping our bags I made a cup of coffee and we relaxed for half an hour before going out. We weren't sure about the shops staying open if it was still a holiday and we needed to get some food. We wanted first of all to find the Tourist Office and we headed for the town centre which was only round the corner. There was a signpost to the tourist info and we followed it. When we got there the door was locked but a man was just about to open up, unfortunately he jabbered on in fast Italian but the gist was that the info office had moved somewhere else and he pointed vaguely into the distance. Cicerone said there was another office on the main road through town and it wasn't far away and there we found the Municipal offices. The woman at the front desk may have been a tourist official, we weren't sure but she was very helpful. She phoned the town of Cassio where we are aiming to reach tomorrow and booked us a place at the Youth Hostel there. Carlos our friend from before the St Bernard Pass had sent an email saying that the hostel in Cassio was very good and the food excellent.
With our accommodation arranged we then made our way to a supermarket we passed on the way into town. We replenished our food stocks and got something for dinner tonight and breakfast in the morning. When we got back to the flat we had a packet of soup and some of the bread Moira bought earlier this morning to dip in. There was central heating in the flat but we couldn't get it to come on and the place was freezing. We ended up on the sofa with our fleeces and beanies on, in our sleeping bags and under a blanket to keep warm. Moira lit the rings on the gas cooker in the kitchen to at least get the chill of the air. Eventually we thawed out but we never expected Italy to be as cold as this, especially early in the afternoon.
In the evening in got a bit warmer with Moira cooking the dinner. Also she made a chicken curry with pasta instead of rice which helped to heat us up. Before leaving the hotel this morning I downloaded a few podcasts from the BBC so we had something to listen to. It was another early night to bed but much warmer there in our sleeping bags with an extra cover on top.