Tuesday 11 November.
The thunder and lightening went on all night and it probably rained solidly as well. It was still pouring when the sun came up at 7 am. The forecast on the Internet said that it would brighten up by this afternoon so we decided to wait and see. We were only going 9 km to Camaiore so weren't in any hurry to leave. After we had breakfast in bed; yoghurt, bread and jam and tea, we lay listening to the radio and reading today's paper which we downloaded. I kept looking out the window but people were still walking about with umbrellas up and cars had their windscreen wipers going. About 9 am the rain finally stopped but we waited another half an hour and there was some blue patches appearing in the sky. We were all ready packed and soon downstairs and out while there was a chance of beating the rain.
The route took us straight along the road through the centre of the town and at the other end picked up the busy main road that had by-passed the town. Fortunately there was pavement and we were away from the traffic. Cicerone said that the official route was badly waymarked and suggested an alternative. When we came to the point just after the cemetery where we had to choose we found that the red and white bands looked fresh and new, also there were little marble pillars with VF and arrows on them that had been appearing in this region. Convinced that the route had been freshly marked and updated we stuck to the official version. It was a wise choice as there was only one point where we had to stop, think and search for the marks and it wasn't a big problem.
After leaving the main road the minor one we were on seemed to be heading for a town high on a hill. We could see the tower of the church and as we got closer could make out the old walls around it. As we climb towards it the waymarks turned us onto a gravel path in another direction. We had been trying to keep our feet dry hoping it would be on tar all day but now the track was very wet and muddy, soon our feet were back to normal, sodden. We were also getting wet on top, not from any rain but from sweating, we stopped and got out off our rain jackets and felt much better. It was on this off-road section that the waymarks disappeared temporarily, I think the path had collapsed or had been washed away and after a search found the detour through a farm yard. Moira had been reading a blog by some Australians who said that this section was tricky and would be nearly impassable in wet conditions. These people seem to think that, for effect and excitement, they have to make parts of the route appear to be very hard or dangerous. The section was now under extremely wet conditions and was easy going even on the fairly steep downhill parts.
Once down the other side it was tarred lanes and minor roads that went through villages and hamlets. At Cannoreto, a hamlet, we joined up with the Cicerone alternative. Soon the busy SP1 road was reached and it looked like a dodgy last few kilometres trying to avoid the traffic but after about 50 metres the markers guided us across a bridge over the River Camaiore. A footpath along the river bank, first narrow and slippery from the rain, became wider covered with gravel; eventually taking us to another. bridge and into Camaiore.
It was close to the town centre where we entered and we asked directions for Oratorio Il Colosseo. The owner at the B&B in Sarzana said to ask anyone here, they all know the Oratorio. He was right and we got directed accurately first time. When we arrived there we were told to wait until the 'patron', the boss, arrived. We sat and waited. After 10 minutes I got fed up and went for a walk, I checked out the shops and restaurants nearby then returned. Moira was gone and so were the bags but she had left the hiking poles, I sat down again and waited, obviously the patron had turned up. She was soon back and took me upstairs to the small dorm with four single beds. The patron, Angelo, was busy in his office stamping our credentials. When he returned we made a donation and he said any problems to give him a phone then he was off.
For lunch Moira made a packet of asparagus soup she bought yesterday. She heated it up on the camping Gaz cooker and we had it with bread. After washing up the cups and pot I made a cup of coffee and we had some fruit. The rain began again while we had lunch, we had finished the day just on time. We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon then at 4pm the rain had gone off so we went out to find a supermarket. It was a nice town centre with lovely piazzas and a church with an enormous square tower which was being renovated. It was covered in scaffolding and tarpaulins, on the front covering there was painted a representation of what it will look like when finished. We found a big supermarket near where we came into town and replenished some essentials like coffee, milk, bread and wine!
For dinner we wanted to get a pizza but the only place close to the hostel was a kebab take-away so we settled for that. Moira got one each of the Donner kebab and a salad to share. It was nice enough but these meals tend to be expensive, this cost €19. Where our dorm was situated was above the main street and the traffic was very noisy. The hostel was noisy as well, it seemed to be nursery school during the day and a shelter for the homeless at night. We only came into contact with the other people staying there when going to the toilet which was a long walk to the other end of the building. About mid-night the traffic outside quietened and it was a peaceful night. There wasn't any thunder and no sound of rain, it is promising for tomorrow.