Monday 10 November.
It was raining slightly when we went for breakfast but there was some breaks in the clouds so it looked promising. The breakfast was the same as yesterday and not very filling, have they never heard of cereals? When we got to the station it was only a couple of minutes before a train arrived heading for Massa. The platform was crowded and so was the train but we managed to get a seat. It wasn't long before we were off the train and starting our day's walk.
As we headed up towards the town centre the rain was on but not too heavy and bearable. When we reached the main road we had to think about the way to go. I had made a note of the road to take but as usual none of the streets have name plates. Moira asked someone for Via Puccini and we were directed along the main road, the SS1, out of town. This was when the rain really started, it poured and it was so dark it was like night time. The cars all had their headlights on but fortunately we had a pavement to walk on. We were still on the alternative route from yesterday and there were no waymarks, I was just hoping we were heading in the right direction. The rain got heavier and heavier and we could hardly see in front of us. We reached a hospital at the exit from Massa and went in there for shelter. There was a wall under the overhang of the roof where it was quite dry and somewhere to sit. We were both miserable and we had come very close to quitting and coming back in the spring to finish. This weather is to continue until Thursday, then a few days of sun followed by another week of rain. And we thought Italy was sunny!
We sat on the wall for half an hour watching the sky. The really dark clouds passed over and the torrential rain easy to just a steady shower. We decided to carry on. The main worry in the poor visibility was with the traffic on the busy road and now the pavement was disappearing. Luckily it turned out we only had to follow it for a few hundred metres where a fork in the road that took us into Prato where we rejoined the official VF again. This was a village beside a river that was now a raging torrent. We crossed it and then the road started to climb steadily up and around the side of the hill. The clouds now were beginning to break up slightly and it wasn't so dark. As we rounded the hill we had good views now of the Mediterranean stretching out to the west.
The weather out over the sea was looking better and the rain was now off but every now and again dark clouds would gather from somewhere and another downpour start. Soon the road levelled out then we started to descend down the other side. Luckily the waymarking was good and easy to follow. We went through a few villages in a twisting and turning way, Cantina, Castellachio, Strettoia and Ripa where we stopped at a bar for a cup of coffee.
The next town was Vallecchia but as we crossed the bridge over the River Versilia the route didn't enter the town but picked up a path along the river bank. It was a pleasant walk now away from tarred roads and traffic and after 3 km we reached the town of Pietrasanta. There was a hotel there which we decided to investigate rather than continuing as planned to Camiaore where accommodation was doubtful. We were wet and miserable, the rain was starting again and we had had enough for one day. We found the hotel, the Albergo Stipino, on the main street. We were soon in our room and I had a cup of coffee made to heat us up. The skies had now darken again and the rain was lashing down outside.
They said the WiFi was poor because of the weather but when we signed in the service was excellent, the best we have had yet. It didn't take long to download the last three day's newspapers and I updated my blog. I tuned into the BBC radio on the Internet and we listened to Jeremy Vine with his lunchtime phone-in then some comedy on catch-up. The rain stopped at about 4 pm and Moira went out to look for a shop. All she managed to find was a small place with nothing we could use for a meal in the room. She got some cheese and a beer to keep us going until the restaurant opened in the hotel. She asked the woman in reception to phone the church in Camiaore about accommodation in their hostel for tomorrow but the phone was engaged, she said she would keep trying.
The heating came on in the room about 5 pm and we covered the radiators with our wet shoes and socks, hopefully they will be dry by morning. Suzy phoned on FaceTime and as usual Hollie was busy having dinner, she doesn't half like her food. She is now feeding herself using a spoon but also her other hand as well. I told Suzy about the torrential rain and her suggestion was to walk further each day and get finished sooner. After the phone call we went down for dinner, the receptionist said she got through to the hostel in Camiaore and we are booked in. For dinner we had pasta with Bolognese sauce but the serving wasn't very big but we didn't want the full 'menu of the day'. When we returned to our room there was some fruit that Moira had bought at the shop and wine. I had the radio on again for more comedy and then it was off to sleep.
The horrible weather continued through the night. There was thunder and lightening, the worst we have experienced since the electric storms of the High-Veldt in South Africa. We can only hope that it improves by morning.