Monday 17 November.
It was 6 am when I wakened and made our morning cup of tea, it had been a good night's sleep and a long lie for a change. There was no rush this morning and it was 8 am when breakfast was over and the packing done. We left the bags in the flat and went for a walk around the town. The weather was looking not too bad, some high cloud but dry and a little bit cold, but promising. It was a very old town with very narrow streets. The only traffic allowed were residents and visitors with permits. This didn't mean there wasn't any traffic, we had to move into doorways to allow cars, the school bus and the rubbish collection van to pass. There wasn't anything in particular to see, there was a church with a large tower and a few nice piazzas. Also a couple of view points where we could look over the lower town stretched out below. The charm of the place was just the fact that buildings were so old and fairly well preserved.
After returning to collect our bags we made our way down to the new town below. We took a more direct route down and found there was a lift just a short distance away that took people up and down. We used that and were soon in the town centre. It was then that the problems started we couldn't find any indications of the route. We consulted Cicerone and for some reason this time didn't give much detail about an exit from here. This time our location was showing on the iPad map and we followed that to where Cicerone said we should have finished yesterday's stage. We asked people for directions but all we got was blank stares or garbled Italian. After searching the normal places for waymarks Moira discovered a sticker of the VF monk on a lamppost. We followed in that direction and made our way out of town. On the way there was a supermarket where we got coffee and cheese.
Cicerone said that we should take a right hand turn at the Viale dei Mille one kilometre later. When we reached there any indicators that there had been disappeared. I was going to turn right as instructed but a cyclist told us we should carry on straight for Rome, along a cycle path. I wasn't happy and investigated the road to the right but it didn't look right and no waymarks there either. We saw the cyclist again and I said we wanted to make for Strove the first village on the day's route. He insisted it was along the cycle track beside the main road. The decision was to head that way and if it was on the main road so be it. The cycleway finished at a roundabout half a kilometre later and the monk waymark reappeared. This directed us to a minor road and there the designer made up for the deficiency of signs, now we had red and white bands, plaques, white arrows, monks and others. Soon it became an unsurfaced wide track but firm and dry. The early promising weather now changed and the rain began slight at first then in ernest. Our feet were soon back to normal, soaking.
The path was undulating but nothing taxing in any of the hills we had to climb. It was just the rain that was annoying. We came to a junction and there was a signpost pointing to Strove. At first I though it said 15 km and was ready to curse before discovering it was only 1.5 km. This was fast as we had covered about 7 km in just over an hour. We could see the houses of the village on the hilltop, they seem to like building there places high up. When we got there the rain had eased and there was a bench next to a house. We decided it was time for a break and a drink despite the weather. I made some coffee and then the rain started again, we shelter under the overhang of a house to drink our coffee.
From Strove we thought the route would follow the road to Monteriggioni but instead it took us off-road through woodland with puddles and mud. A dog suddenly ran past us turned and ran the other way, then back it came again. This continued until we had clear the woods and were on a clear path to the village of Abbadia a Isola. I thought the dog must have been on the look-out for pilgrims and guided them through the trees, though we didn't actually need assistance as the waymarking was now excellent. From Abbadia a Isola the VF cut a corner and headed on a minor road to Monteriggioni but our hotel was on the SP5 road about a kilometre from Monteriggioni. We carried to the junction with the SP5, it wasn't very busy and it was about 1/2 km to our hotel, Il Piccolo Castello. The rain was now pouring down and we were drenched, not the sort of people that frequented this posh looking hotel.
We were quickly through registering and into our room. Another luxury place, a huge bed in a big room and en suite. It was surprising that it cost under €50 for the night. Originally we were going to walk into Monteriggioni sightseeing and get a meal there later, but with the rain we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant. The prices were a bit steep but we settled on the mixed grill. It consisted of sausage, ribs, a chop and a fillet steak. There was a little bit of salad with it but it could have benefitted from a helping of chips. There was plenty of bread supplied which we devoured to get our money's worth. Lunch cost as much as the hotel room.
Back in our room we settle down with a cup of coffee to relax. It had been a good decision to have a short day today, the rain was still lashing down outside. The WiFi was reasonable and I was able to pick up the radio from the BBC. For the rest of the day now it was reading and the radio then bread and cheese to eat later. We did have some wine that Moira bought at the supermarket this morning. There were also calls on FaceTime from both Margaret and Suzanne, all the grand kids were up and about.
The rain continued all afternoon and into the night. At times it was torrential, we are hoping it will have eased off a bit by morning.