VF 27-30: Dolce Far Niente

Jul 2, 2022 | All Blog Posts, Via Francigena | 2 comments

I am a water girl with a fire sign (Leo). I’m feisty like fire but love to be cooled off by the water. I love being by the water, despite how bored I get after one day of doing nothing at the beach.

I’ll take water in any form. On this pilgrimage every shower consists of me standing under the shower head imagining myself diving into a pool. That’s probably because I am just so dang hot every single day. Regardless, that’s my shower day dream and it gets me through the hot days. Haha!

I can’t talk much about our time walking from Cella to Aulla. It was hard, it was hot, and it was an incredible amount of climbing. I wasn’t as mentally prepared for it as I was the Grand St. Bernard Pass. I have a lot of respect for the mountains and if I lived by them they would be much more manageable. But I am from the flat lands of the Midwest. Here’s a video just to illustrate how tough it was for us.

The balance of water and mountains at its best

I definitely could live by the water with mountains behind me. I respect the balance of the two. I need to climb the mountains and feel like I am looking down on everything (the Leo sign again). I also need to sit by the water and listen to the sounds as I go about my day. I think that’s why, despite how tough the mountains have been, I love this area. The Apennine Mountains are around us and the Ligurian Sea is in front of us as we leave Sarzana and spend a rest day in Marina di Massa.

Marina di Massa looking up at the marble quarry where Michelangelo got marble for his statues

If I lived here, I would hike the mountains but not relentlessly every day for 20-30+ km, in the heat, with a 20 pound pack on my back. Sometimes you need a bit of dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) to appreciate the hard work of the climb.

Marina di Massa is off of the Via Francigena path but it’s an easy detour. Make sure you are following our YouTube channel so you can see how easy this detour is for walkers.

It can be a pricey detour because Marina di Massa is a tourist town. However, we booked our room in February and secured a moderately ok little apartment for just under €100 a night. For this area, that is super reasonable. It’s also only 4 blocks from the sea.

To make this rest day complete, we will allow ourselves to get completely bored for a day. Haha! We rented an umbrella and beach chairs for only €36. I will be there as soon as they open in the morning. Let the dolce far niente commence.

This pilgrimage has been incredibly rewarding thus far. I can’t believe we have complete 30 of our 50 planned walking days. I have overcome some mental hurdles from past pilgrimages. My body has risen to the challenge of the daily grind – walk, hand wash clothes, find food, rehydrate, reflect on the day, go to bed early, get up early to beat the heat, and repeat. Every day is gets a bit easier.

However, our days of rest are critical to sustaining these final 20 days of walking. The heat of the summer is extremely challenging for everyone. I’m not trying to push myself beyond what I can do, I am just trying to get better with time. I am only in competition with myself. Thankfully, I do not have to prove anything to anyone. The reward: I am pleasantly surprised with how much our walking pace and walking stamina have improved. I can’t wait to see how we improve over the next 20 days.

My inner mermaid is calling to get out of this apartment and go walk the beach. Please continue to pray for our safe passage over the next 20 days. We have a lot to learn still. We have the challenging Tuscan hills in front of us with relentless ups and downs all day long.

We will continue to work on what our balanced life will look like when we get home. Balance is our greatest challenge. Let me know what your struggle is and I will add you to those I pray for on my walk.

Caio for now!

Here’s the YouTube video from Berseto to Aulla.

Here’s the YouTube video from Aulla to Sarzana. Watch out, it’s our Gong Show edition. 🤪

Walking stats from Fronovo di Taro to Berseto- 18.24 km, took a taxi for 13.3 km

  • Lodging at La casa di Marty B&B – €66

Walking stats from Berseto to Pontremoli – 14.46 km, took a taxi for 13.8 km

  • Lodging at Ospitale San Lorenzo Martire – €40

Walking stats from Pontremoli to Aulla – sadly just 2.5 km to the train station. I had to work and we needed a place with good wi-fi so it was 29.6 km on the train.

  • Lodging at Demi Hotel – €100

Walking stats from Aulla to Sarzana – 18.76

  • Lodging at Casa Giangarè – €98

Walking stats from Sarzana to Massa di Marina – 19.55 km

  • Lodging at Rosa Tea Residence for two nights – €198

*Listing our accommodation is not an endorsement. This is just a point of information for fellow pilgrims. See our reviews on Booking.com, the guidebooks, and fellow pilgrims for more details to make the decision best for you.


  1. Ellen Zimmer

    I feel your pain walking in the heat! If we do the walk I will keep in mind to do it in the fall or spring! (I know the pass is really tricky then tho).

    Keep your positive attitude and enjoy the rest of your journey!

    Buen Camino!

    • The Colemans

      Thank you Ellen!! ❤️


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