Sunday 23 November.
We had bananas with our yoghurt for breakfast in our room then set off at 7 am.
We walked up the Via Cassia then into town to pick up the waymarked route through the narrow streets meeting the main road again at the Basilica del Santa Sepulcro, the large church opposite the supermarket where we shopped yesterday. The town was quite busy mainly with guys in camouflage clothing having breakfast at the local bars before going off hunting. They were out in force this weekend and all morning we could hear the shooting in the fields and hills. Cicerone suggested taking the road to the next town of San Lorenzo Nuovo as on a Sunday it should be quiet and was shorter, but with all the hunters heading for the wilds and a lot of motorbikes were out for a breakfast run Moira in particular was reluctant. So we left the road after about a kilometre and followed the official VF.
It was a good decision as it turned out to be a very pleasant route on side gravel tracks through farmlands. It was basically flat all the way and we were now striding out at a brisk pace. There were kilometre markers for the Francigena Marathon, we passed the one for 4km and later the 7 km. there was no indication if it followed the same way we were heading or when the race was taking place. The weather was a bit cloudy but not any threat of rain, later the clouds cleared away and it turned into another warm sunny day. I was still having problems with my left shoe and stones getting in through the holes. I had to stop every now and again to empty them out. It was 10 km to San Lorenzo Nuovo and we covered it in just over 2 hours. At the start of the town there was a park with benches and it was time for tea. While I brewed up Moira did some work on the shoe that was causing me problems. She stitched up the holes and now only very small stones would get through.
The next section was nearly all off-road and took us to our finishing point for the day in Bolsena which sits on the shores of Lago (lake) di Bolsena. As we left the town we could see the lake which was a considerable size. Unfortunately we only got close to the lake at the end of the day, our route undulated on hills above it and our views were also restricted by the woodlands we went through. It was another very nice walk on good dry and firm gravel tracks that were well waymarked. I still had a problem with stones getting into my shoe, they were quite large and couldn't get through the holes Moira had repaired. On closer examination we found another hole, this one in the sole at the toe. I tried walking on smoother ground away from the gravel and keeping my toe curled up, it helped a little but I still had to stop to empty out. In the end I decided to walk in my sandals. It was for the final hour of the day and it turned out they were quite comfortable and we got back to a good pace. The track seemed at times to be heading down to the lake which was always down to our right but then would turn and head up the hill again. There were some steep ups and downs as it crossed streams flowing down the hillside, fortunately all these were dried up, even with all the recent rains. We passed another two marathon markers, for the 20 km and 21 km points. Either it was taking a different route or the markers are few and far between. Finally the track did start to descend and we reached the farms and houses on the outskirts of the town.
We came in at the top of the town by the castle the it was a winding steep cobbled alleyway down to the bottom to the Via Cassia and the lake. Before searching for our hotel we decided to have lunch and this would be our main meal, as being Sunday nothing was open to buy food to cook. We settled on pizza and went to a small pizzeria in the town centre. There was 15 minutes until the pizza was made but it was worth the wait, we had it with a beer and it was delicious. We got directions from the woman to our hotel, 'Nazionale', which was only 100 m along the main road, the Via Cassia again.
It was now that the agro started. First of all the old guy at reception required our passports, then took about 15 minutes transcribing every detail from each one on to a form. He kept asking questions about certain sections because he couldn't see very well. I was getting more and more frustrated with the whole business, I don't need to produce a passport to purchase a meal or buy clothes why do they require it for a room. Once that was finished he told us how the controller for the heating in the room worked, then said Room 60 was upstairs. When we go into a cheap hostel or one for a donation somebody usually shows us the dorm, where the toilets and showers are and the facilities in the kitchen if there is one. With hotels now-a-days you are handed a key and you have to get on with it. The next problem was the TV. Normally we don't bother with it but today the final F1 Grand Prix of the season was on from Abu Dhabi and Hamilton needed the win to secure the World Championship. I turned it on but all we got was a frozen picture on the screen. I tried the controllers then Moira had a go but nothing worked. Moira went downstairs and had words with the old guy, he said he would get somebody to look at it. After 10 minutes there wasn't anything happening so I went down. The old guy was in the bar with his mate watching the Grand Prix on the TV there. He said I could watch it there but I pointed out that I was paying and wanted to watch it in my room. This resulted in a heated argument, him shouting in Italian and me yelling back in English. Then a woman got involved trying to calm us down but it didn't work it was nearly coming to blows. All I wanted was somebody to come up to the room and have a look at the TV and determine what was wrong but they would not do it. In the end he got on the phone and said somebody would be there in 5 minutes. Sure enough a guy arrived pulled out the plug from the mains put it in again and the TV was operating normally and the motor racing was on. That was all I wanted one of them to do as I didn't think it was a serious problem. The next thing that was likely to cause more arguments was that we couldn't find the controller for the heating. Before I went to complain again the guy who fixed the TV knocked on the door and he handed me the controller.
To calm down I made a cup of tea and we watched the race. It wasn't particularly interesting after all that, the TV had a tiny picture and we couldn't see much lying on the bed and the commentary was all in Italian. In the end Hamilton won the race and the World Championship. When it was over we went out for a walk. The road next to the hotel led down to the lake front and it was quite crowded there with people strolling about along the lake side, we joined them.
It was a very large lake and it was like walking along the esplanade at Largs with the hills on the other side and a wide stretch of water. We walked as far as the footpath went then turned and meandered back again.
The sun was going down and a breathtaking view over the marina with the masts of the yachts dark against the setting sun. From the lake we headed up into the town centre looking for a potential outlet for a pair of shoes in the morning. We were surprised at the number of shops open considering it was a Sunday. There was a fruit and veg shop where Moira bought some grapes then at another shop where we tried to buy a bottle of wine. Moira only had a €50 note and the woman didn't have change, instead of running out to a bar or neighbour to get change and secure the sale she shrugged her shoulders in the European fashion and we left empty handed. Further along there was a clothes shop that had shoes, unfortunately none my size, they were all too small. On the way back to the hotel Moira drew some money from a bank machine and got a €20 note, she went back for the wine.
Back at the hotel there was WiFi but not in the room, we had to go downstairs to near the reception to pick it up. I posted my blog and downloaded some podcasts from the BBC to listen to later while Moira booked accommodation for tomorrow night in Montefiascone. She then contacted first Margaret then Suzy on FaceTime and we talked to them and the grand kids, ensuring them that we were still alive and well after so long without WiFi. We then went out to the same pizzeria where we had lunch and had the same again for dinner, another very nice meal.
In our room again we got into bed, the only comfortable place and had some wine. I put on the podcasts I had downloaded and we listened to these. Moira had been suffering from a touch of the cold today, choked up with a sore throat but it hadn't got any worse. I soon dropped off to sleep while listening to one of the programmes and wakened again when Moira took the iPad to plug for charging. We then settled down for the night.