Wednesday 5 November.
It was cold when we woke at 5:30 am, the heating was on a timer and didn't come on until 8 am. I made a cup of tea, there wasn't much milk left, only enough for one more cup. We weren't in a hurry to go this morning as we had just 10 km to walk. It had been raining all night but now at least the thunder and lightening had stopped. There wasn't anything for breakfast so Moira went out to try and find a shop that was open, all she succeeded on getting was wet, it was still pouring. For breakfast we ended up having the other cup of tea and one biscuit each that was left.
It was just before 9 am when we set off and the rain, though not very heavy, was constant. It was lying over the hills and valley obscuring what on a clear day would have been a magnificent view. We stuck to the road, still the SS62; initially it was flat or slightly downhill until we reached the village of Cavazzola where the waymarks which had been on the road pointed to the left. We had intended sticking to the road all the way due to mainly to the wet conditions but I thought this loop was to climb straight up through the village and avoid a series of twists and hairpins taken by the road. I was mistaken and we ended up on a rough very steep track like the one yesterday, the mule track, which was considerably longer than I had anticipated. It was a stony path strewn with autumn leaves and like a running river in places. Our feet were already soaking so they weren't getting any worse, the rain was now pouring down assisted by the water falling from the trees. The track finished in the next village, Castellonchio, and dropped down through a narrow lane to rejoin the SS62 again.
This time we stuck to the road and ahead the sky was looking a little brighter. The clouds did break and the sun tried to shine through but it was short lived and soon it was raining again. The road continued to climb then flattened out to go along a ridge with views of valleys on either side with at the bottom a number of villages dotted at intervals. Soon we spotted our destination Berceto at the top of the valley. It was quite a large town but well below us, all the climbing we had done was lost as the road twisted downhill. At Castellonchio we had reached 'Munro' altitude, 912 m but now at Berceto it was down to 807 m. The annoying thing is that we will have to climb what we have lost and more to get over the Passo della Cisa.
Our plan on arriving in Berceto was to check at the Tourist Information, if it was open, for any accommodation near the pass then we would carry on and reduce the distance for tomorrow. There was a sign for the Tourist Office and we followed it through to the other end of town. The woman there was very helpful, she gave us a biscuit when Moira told her about our skimpy breakfast. She then started to phone places, she got an answer from the hostel at the pass but it had closed from November 1. Another hostel she suggested on the other side of the pass did not respond to her call. We decided to stay in Berceto tonight and start the long walk early in the morning. The woman gave us the address of a hostel at the Seminary and also the Hotel Pasquinelli, they were both close by. We tried the Seminary first but it was all locked up but we preferred to go to a hotel anyway. But the Pasquinelli was also closed though a woman there sent us to La Casa dei Nonni in the piazza beside the church. This was closed but a note on the door gave a contact number to get in. So it was back to the Tourist Office and the woman phoned the number and was told there would be some body at La Casa in 10 minutes. I expected the Italian 10 minutes to be like 'African Time' and we would have a long wait in the rain but when we got back to La Casa a woman came running down the street and let us in. It was a small room, en suite, with a double bed but what impressed us most was that the woman immediately went to the hearing control panel and got it going. We could have had breakfast In the morning but it wasn't until 7:30 am and we wanted to get way before that. It cost €45 which was reasonable.
Moira went out again to catch the shops before they closed for their extended lunch. I got out off my wet weather gear and began washing my socks, I put them over a radiator in the bathroom which was already piping hot. The woman returned with our passports which she took for whatever odd purpose they require them, she also had a bag with fruit juice, biscuits and jams for the breakfast we would be missing. I then had a shower and finished as Moira got back. She had her shower then made a packet of soup she had bought for lunch with bread. We felt much better after some food inside us. The weather didn't improve and it was another day spent in our room lying on the bed reading and listening to the podcasts I downloaded in the bar last night. At least this room was nice and warm.
Late afternoon Moira went down to a fruit shop that was next to the hotel. Fortunately it was very close as the rain was still pouring down. She got an apple, a pear and some bananas. In the evening we had a pasta with tuna and tomato sauce for dinner Moira managed to cook it in the little pot on our Gaz cooker. It was every bit as good as the meal we had in the bar last night and considerably cheaper. After I washed up we listened to a couple more of the podcasts then it was another early night. We got to sleep hoping there would be an improvement in the weather tomorrow.