Thursday 13 November.
If you didn't think the torrential rain we had to go through a few days ago wasn't series look at the headlines extracted from Euronews about the flooding in Italy. We were probably lucky that where we were missed the worst of it, but it was certainly bad enough.
At least three people are presumed dead in flooding and landslides in northern Italy.
Two elderly people are thought to be buried after their home was crushed in a mudslide.
Another woman trapped in her home has died of a heart attack.
The Mayor of Leivi, Vittorio Centanaro, told reporters: "The situation is really bad; it’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for the whole area. Every year we have to face this kind of situation."
The regions affected by the torrential rain and flooding include Tuscany, Lombardy, Liguria and Emilia-Romagna.
Some towns are reported to have had more than 20 centimetres of rain in just 12 hours.
High alert levels are expected to remain in place until at least Wednesday evening.
Copyright © 2014 euronews
The weather was certainly a big improvement when we set off this morning, large patches of blue sky. Our shoes and socks were dry with the heat that eventually came through the radiators. It was warm as well, we had our trousers on but not our rain jackets. After only about an hour's walking the trousers were packed away as well.
The distance to Altopascio, our destination for today was only 17 km, so we didn't rush to get away and had breakfast at the hotel. We went to the dining room just before 8 am but he was just setting things up. We had some muesli, yoghurt and a croissant with fruit juice, he hadn't got round to making any coffee. I wasn't bothered about the rubbish they call coffee, we were finished and on our way by 8:30 am . Before we left the guy doing the breakfast was obliging and phoned the Convent in San Minato Alto and got us a room there for tomorrow night.
On the way through the old town to pick up the route we had a wander around to view some of the buildings and churches we missed yesterday. We strolled through the Piazza Anfiteatro rather than walk around the outside perimeter street. The buildings curved round in a circle with numerous restaurants and cafés around the circumference below. At the Piazza San Michele with its magnificent church the VF signs appeared and we followed them along Via Roma which became Via San Croce and through the outer walls by the Porta Elisa.
After twisting around a few busy intersection it was straight out of the city by another busy road but there was a good pavement for us pilgrims.
Soon we turned onto a quieter road then to a lane that ran parallel to it which was practically traffic free. This took us to the town of Capannori where a cycleway made a twisting and turning detour through parks and back streets just to avoid roads. When we left Capannori it was through a lot of industrial areas and not very pleasant. Cicerone said that after going on a minor road which became unsurfaced the waymarking disappeared and suggested, if this was still the case, an alternative route. We kept looking for this section but didn't even reach any unsurfaced road, though at a different area the signage was poor and we missed a turning. It had been in another industrial estate and the road was busy with large lorries pulling out of factories and turning on the road. We reached a t-junction and no indication where to go, we asked some women for the Via Francigena and they looked as if they had never heard of it. We backtracked and found our turning but there hadn't ben the usual indication of a change of direction. It was now a long straight road into the town of Porcari. This had a busy centre with lots of shops and illegally parked cars that the traffic police were busy booking. We found a bench next to a kiddies play park and I got the cooker on for tea.
We had just 6 km to go; initially through the town, then across a busy intersection, past a large supermarket and more factories before we suddenly found ourselves out in the country. There was a lovely new gravel track that headed into a wooded area and ran beside a stream. It was only for about a kilometre and finished at an old church, Abbadia di Pozzeveri, part of the walls had fallen down and it was undergoing restoration work.
We settled on a bench in this quiet spot for a 5 minute rest before heading along a road again to the finish. There was a cobbled pavement all the way but the end of my walking pole gets stuck between the stones. It went through the edge of Bodia Pozzeveri another small village before crossing the railway then under the motorway into Altopascio.
We had the normal difficulties finding our hotel, Cavalieri del Tau, on Via Gavinana. There had been a market this morning in the centre of the town and the stall holders were all packing up, if it had still been open it would have been chaos trying to find anything with the crowds that go to these markets. I asked a couple of people for Via Gavinana but they hadn't heard of it, this was looking ominous. Moira suggested asking for the hotel, this brought results and we were soon on our way. It was just off the main street,,it didn't look much from the outside but inside the reception area was quite plush. We were soon in our room and it was time for lunch. Today it was a bit of a change from normal, there was a hard boiled egg, a banana sandwich, yoghurt and an apple with a beer Moira bought on the way to the hotel. Most of what we had was supposed to have been our breakfast and was left when we ate in the hotel this morning.
The WiFi was first class and we relaxed for an hour listening to the BBC and reading. At 4 pm we got ready to go for a stroll around the town. When we got down to the street the rain was pouring down. It was back to our room for more reading and the radio. Moira checked the menu at the hotel restaurant but it was expensive here, instead we settled for pizza. The rain was off at 6 pm when we went out and there was a pizzeria close-by; while I waited for the pizzas to cook Moira went for wine. Back in our room it was nice lying on the bed eating pizza with a glass of red wine.
In the afternoon Moira had booked another hotel on 'booking.com' for Sunday and the woman at reception phoned a hotel for Saturday in Gambassi Terme. We now have accommodation booked for the next 3 nights. I checked out the weather on the Internet, it is going to be sunny tomorrow but a lot of rain after that.