Saturday 22 November.
I have calculated that we should arrive in Rome in 9 days time. Yesterday's tough climb should be the last hard day as the profile of the route shows it downhill to Rome.
So we were quite cheerful this morning as we made our way through the narrow streets of Radicofani. It was another beautiful day, we had begun with our jackets and trousers on but after an hour they were off and in our bags, it was like a hot summer's day. From the hilltop town it was on a gravel track down nearly all the way along the spine of the hill.
All around were rolling hills and behind now was the castle and tower of Radicofani sitting on the dome with a ring of cloud about the base. My shoes have now covered about 1800 km and are beginning to fall apart. There are holes in the toes and at the sides, this results in little stones getting in, especially on the gravel tracks. I had to stop twice to empty them out and in the end stuck Elastoplast tape over the holes. This worked but I will have to try and get a new pair at the earliest opportunity.
After 10 km at the bottom of the hill, in the valley of the Torrente Rigo, we stopped at a picnic table for a break. I made tea and we had it with some of the cake we were given by Helga yesterday as we left their motorhome. After crossing the Ponte de Rigo the route followed the Via Cassia /SR2 road all the way to our destination for the day, Acquapendente. The official waymarked route took a wide detour to avoid the road resulting in about 5 km extra but Cicerone suggested taking the road for part of the way and the old Via Cassia the rest. We took this shorter route. After crossing the river there was supposed to be an earthen track parallel to the road but the farmer had ploughed it over, we walked on the road as it was only for 2 km until we forked off on to the old Via Cassia.
It was now a pleasant stroll through the woods until we reconnected with the newer road for the bridge crossing the Torrente Alvella. Here we left the Provence of Tuscany and entered Latium. We also left the road and entered the hamlet of Centeno where we had a 5 minute break on a bench near the church. At the other end of the village we were under the impression it was the old road we would rejoin, but it was the Via Cassia with a different number, the SS2, and at the start was full of cracks and potholes but it was busy with a lot of traffic travelling at high speeds. We had to concentrate and watch the traffic for 5 km and we strode out at a brisk pace to get it over with as quickly as possible. I timed our pace against the kilometre markers and we were doing 11 min/km. we soon rejoined the official route again at the bridge over the Fiume Paglia. It was now lunchtime and we dropped down to the riverside where we sat on the grass in the now very hot sun and enjoyed our sandwiches.
Once over the river and following the waymarks again it was a serious climb. Although the overall profile of the route now is down they still build their towns on any convenient high hill and Acquapendente was no exception. The lane seemed to go straight up and when reached the top exhausted there was the town nestling in the folds of two hills with the church above it still. Soon we rejoined the Via Cassia again for a short distance before the signs pointed to a gravel track. Just at that junction there was a hotel, Albergo Nuava Aquila d'Oro, I checked our accommodation list and it was on it and the price was reasonable. In we went and there were rooms available at €50, she just photocopied our passports and gave us a key.
It wasn't the best of hotels, a bit shabby, but it was a bed for the night and en suite. The one plus was the WiFi, it was first class and we didn't need any complicated password, just straight in. We downloaded three days of newspapers, I updated my blog and sent an email to the Greenock Telegraph to tell them we are nearly there. At 3 pm we went for a walk into town. We started off following the waymarked route but it dropped down into a valley then climbed up the other side to the town. When we saw this we turned back and took the road which kept to the high ground. We were a bit early after lunch / siesta and all the shops were still closed but there was a sign to the Coop out on the Via Cassia. We made our way there but came to a discount supermarket first and went in there where we got something for dinner and a few essentials. There wasn't much to see in the town just the narrow old streets and a huge piazza with the municipal buildings. When we returned through the town centre the shops were beginning to open and we searched around for a place selling shoes to replace my worn out ones but there was only one gents outfitters and it was closed for the day. We gave up and returned to the hotel.
We had dinner in the room, first Moira made soup then we had risotto from a packet with bacon. It was all very nice and filling. After washing up I tuned in via the Internet to the BBC and we listened to the radio and read the newspapers, catching up with all the news. The hotel restaurant and bar downstairs was a bit noisy but it didn't prevent us getting a good sleep, we were very tired after 4 quite hard days of walking.