Thursday 27 November.
The breakfast was all right, cereal, croissants and coffee. It was at 7 am and we set off half an hour later. The weather was looking quite good when we left, it was cloudy but no rain in the offing. The forecast had said that there was a low chance of rain in the morning but it was highly likely to rain after noon.
We climbed up to the old town and turned in the opposite direction from our walk about yesterday. The town wasn't any more attractive that way either. Once clear of the town there was another long climb up a minor road before going off-road.
It was along varying types of tracks until we reached the town of Capranica; gravel, muddy wet earthen, and grassy ones. It was really a lovely walk, a little undulating but nothing taxing in the ups. It was through different types of plantations, olive groves, chestnuts and hazelnuts. At one point there were trees and under one were scattered apples, some looked good and fresh and tasted nice and sweet. Most of the tracks were thick with autumn leaves and where it was dry it was pleasant striding out and hear the crunch of the leaves under our feet. On one section that was grassy the track wasn't very clear but the waymarking at that point was excellent and there was no problem finding our way.
There was a new waymarker appearing now, a terracotta plaque with the sculpture of VF monk displayed on the front. Going through all these orchards and trees it was difficult to know exactly where we were and it was only when we dropped down a slope to go through a tunnel under a railway line that suddenly the houses of the town started to appear.
I had intended to stop for coffee after 2.5 hours but there wasn't any good spot to sit. Normally we would have parked ourselves on the grass or at the side of the path but after yesterday's rain that wasn't desirable. The conditions were very good for walking, dry and cool, and we were making really great time so we kept going. We reached to Capranica just before 11 am and found a seat as we got to the first houses and shops. As we were sitting enjoying our coffee people were passing with umbrellas up and cars had their wipers on. When we started off again it was it spitting a little, the sky was dark but it wasn't heavy yet. A little way along the road there was a split in the route, one went straight through the old historical part of the town while another by-passed Capranica, the two versions joined up at the other end of the town.
We picked the way through the town and it was worth it. The entrance to the old town was through a magnificent arched portal and the narrow streets were lined with old houses, churches and at the end a fountain. The street then dropped sharply and twisted round the city walls down to the busy road below. The path down was cobbled and in places very slippery with the rain. Once at the bottom we rejoined the other option that by-passed the town. Looking back up the hill Moira remarked that it resembled Edinburgh Castle with the rocky surface and high walls.
After the drop down from Capranica we has to regain the height again and it was a long steep climb on a gravel track. At the top we reached a tarred road and crossed it to a long woodland path. This followed a small river through the trees and was narrow and winding. Fortunately it was very well waymarked and would have been a very pleasant walk if it hadn't been for the rain. After leaving Capranica it started to pour down and our feet were sodden again.
The track crossed the river a few times by bridges constructed from logs cut from the trees, a couple had hand rails but one was just the wooden logs and a bit dodgy to cross safely. When we eventually reached a clearing with picnic tables we thought it must be close to Sutri our destination for the day. The waymarks pointed us through a makeshift gate in a fence to a wide path. After some time we realised that we hadn't seen any waymarks, previously they had been plentiful and the path didn't seem to be coming out of the woods. We decided that we must have missed a turning or gone the wrong way at the gate in the fence so turned and headed all the way back. It must have been over a kilometre that we had gone and I was having visions of being lost and having to sleep in the tent we had carried all the way from Canterbury. Back at the fence and clearing we thoroughly checked the signs and waymarks, there didn't seem to be any alternative route that we had missed. The decision was to carry on, the path must eventually lead somewhere then we could decided what to do next.
The rain was still pouring down but our minds were on other things as we briskly made our way again and passed the spot where we had turned back. Moira said that probably just round the next bend there would be a waymark and if only we had carried on a bit more, but no such luck just the path heading through more trees. Then suddenly we came to a road, there was a big sign with an arrow saying 'Via Francigena' and up above was another hilltop town that we hoped was Sutri. The arrow was pointing away from the town and we assumed the route by-passed it, we headed the other way towards civilisation. It was only a short distance and round a bend that the road joined the Via Cassia and there was a road sign pointing to Sutri Centre and another for the Hotel Sutrium, our hotel; we were in luck !
It was a long steep climb up stairs to narrow streets leading we assumed to the town centre. I asked a man on the way for directions to the hotel and only got a shrug but shortly after there was an arrow and sign pointing to the left saying 'Hotel Sutrium 50m'. The woman took our passports for recording later and we didn't have to hang about waiting for the key. The room was small but adequate and we were soon out of our wet clothes and feeling comfortable once more. It was now 2:30 pm, we had left Capranica at 11:30 am so it had taken 3 hours to cover what Cicerone said was 5.5 km. We had done an extra 2 km approximately rechecking our route but it still seemed a long time. I re-looked at the guide book and it didn't seem to take the woodland route and somehow used the road.
It was a late lunch but welcome; soup, hard boiled egg, coffee and chocolate biscuits. After showering, the water was good and hot, I washed our socks and then settled down to relax after that hectic final session. The WiFi was excellent and I had the radio on to update us on World Affairs via Jeremy Vine ! At 4 pm Moira went to a shop in the piazza below and got milk, fruit and wine, it was still raining. For dinner we had a pizza in the room, the rain was continuing and there was thunder and lightening. The heating had now come on in the room, the socks were drying nicely on the radiator and it was comfortable. We just lay on the bed, reading and listening to the radio until after 9 pm when it was time to get to sleep. The weather forecast for tomorrow promises sunshine, just 3 days to go !