It is amazing what a change will do for the soul. We experience changes all the time from a new week, beautiful sunset, shift in the weather, a refurbished home, a new pet, or even new neighbors. Whatever the change, it’s all around us, happening even when we don’t notice it.
Change is good for the soul and I believe we all need bigger changes from time to time. Because Brian and I live in the Midwest, we experience change all the time in the seasons and as teachers we experience change at the start of each new semester. Maybe that makes us more aware of change or maybe that makes us need change more? Maybe it helps us be balanced? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. What I do know is how much I love change.
After a month of walking, I was in need of change. I was seriously in need of it. I am not alone in that need for change, other pilgrims have said they are looking for it too. Change doesn’t have to be some big metaphor for life, sometimes a change in scenery will do just fine. Other times, seeing and chatting with other pilgrims is enough change.
This is our longest pilgrimage, specifically walking on one trail. We’ve walked/biked other trails but there were always more types of change and more pilgrims. This trail has moments where change is obvious like going from Switzerland to Italy, from the Po Valley to the Apennine Mountains, and now we’re in Tuscany.
At this point, I needed more than just a scenery change. I know, it’s Tuscany, what more could I possibly need!? I can’t explain. But of course, just like it always happens on pilgrimage, you get what you need which was confirmation enough for me.
Leaving the trail for 24 hours to go to Pisa was a risk. Would we be distracted by tourist life? Would we be able to just hop back on the trail? Would the change be what I actually needed? Would I just be done.
It was the perfect amount of change. Pisa is a small tourist town. I couldn’t imagine going to Rome and then coming back to try to appreciate Pisa the way we did. I’m surprisingly more excited about Rome and the rest of our walk because of going to Pisa. Maybe it was imagining what I’ll buy when we are tourists, maybe it’s wandering around without my backpack, or maybe it was just the distraction I needed.
Because we didn’t plan a day to Pisa, we sacrificed the walk from Altopascio to San Miniato. We got back on the trail shortly after San Miniato to walk to Gambassi Terme. That all goes back to my last blog about owning the exceptions. I have zero regrets.
When we got to Gambassi Terme we checked into the Ostello Sigerico. There were 10 other pilgrims in the ostello (aka – albergue or hostel)! That’s the most pilgrims we’ve been around at one time the entire trip! Change is so very good!!
We left for San Gimignano this morning and it was an epic day! Not only was it a shorter day but there were pilgrims o’ plenty on the trail. We took a million photos. The weather was outstanding. We smelled the pine, cypress, and olive trees all day. We even went a bit crazy and stopped at a winery at 10 a.m. with 7km still to go on our walk! The wine was so good we had a case shipped home!
We only have 14 days left to walk to Rome. I know we’ll continue to see more pilgrims. The scenery will continue to shift. We have a lot of days ahead we’re looking forward to. I know our energy will dip some but I anticipate the emotions I will feel is sadness because it’s coming to an end along with great anticipation to see Rome!
I can’t believe it’s all happening! Change is good! ❤️
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Click here to enjoy our YouTube video of our time from Lucca to Gambassi Terme.
Walking stats from Altopascio to San Miniato. 0 on the Via Francigena but we walked 10 km in Pisa. 🙌🏼
Walking stats from San Miniato to Gambassi Termi 10 km
- Lodging at Ostello Sigerico €40 plus dinner at €14 a person
Walking stats from Gambassi Termi to San Gimignano 15 km
- Lodging at A La Casa Dei Potenti – €75
*Listing our accommodation is not an endorsements. 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.