VF Day 39-43: The Lows of Pilgrimage

By on July 18, 2022

I didn’t know my body could be this tired. Even though I see new muscles every day, I am tired. Besides how exhausted I feel, what has surprised me the most on this pilgrimage is a roller coaster of emotions. Put your seat belt on because I am going to talk about the tough times.

I expected it to be tough. I expected it to challenge me. I didn’t expect to be so worn out at this stage of the pilgrimage. Being that we are going into the final week, I expected to be more energized.

Every photo will include us squinting in the sun

I think I was hoping that by this point there would be more pilgrims to chat it up with every evening. I was hoping for more little villages throughout the day. I was hoping to feel something more that would energize me for the home stretch.

The heat is tough on us both. It makes every pilgrim push a little harder to be done walking before noon. Then we deal with accommodations that won’t let us check in until 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. So we wait, in the heat, before we can find relief. If you are lucky enough to find a room with air conditioning, you better pray it works well. Many places we have paid extra to stay at because we wanted the air conditioning which unfortunately has either not worked at all or they set limits to how cool it can be. Seriously, limits on air conditioning, that’s a new one to us. 

The lack of new pilgrims has been disappointing. We hoped to have made connections with many others by now. We had hoped for a nice “pilgrim family” but there just haven’t been that many pilgrims. Of course, we expected it could happen because of our pace and our rest days, but it’s still tough.

Then there is the walk. The days are full of walking in the full sun. This is the best farmer’s tan we have ever had! Haha! The heat is extremely intense. We are lucky if there is one village along the way and even more lucky if there is a bar/cafe open. We had heard many places are closed on either Sunday or Monday so we always plan our day before we leave the village we are in. However, what we’ve experienced is that a place could be closed any day of the week. 

On our walk from Radicofani to Acquapendente there was one village, Centeno, where we could stop for food. However, it was Saturday and the only place in town was closed on Saturday’s. I really struggle with the lack of pilgrim stops along the way.

Working by the pool since the hotel has no power

We have been looking forward to our final rest day in Bolsena. We booked a “nice” hotel with a pool, wi-fi, and air conditioning. You’ll never believe what has happened since we arrived. The first room they put us in, a ceiling tile fell because water was leaking from the air conditioning unit. Fortunately we had just finished washing our clothes and showering. They moved us to a new room. Overnight the power went out which meant no air conditioning, no phones being charged, no wifi, and a limited breakfast. They teased us with eggs and bacon for breakfast but not without power.

I guess this summer is about learning to pivot because it seems to be the theme, see my earlier blog. We’ve had to adjust our expectations, learn to be ok with less than we wanted, and pivot when things don’t go as planned. I’m not saying it’s easy but I guess it’s something we needed to learn.

Now we enter the home stretch. My main motivation going forward is that we finish what we start. It’s the way we raised our children and something we feel is important. The tough moments help us grow. They nourish our soul and stretch our adventurous spirit. 

We will walk into Vatican City in 7 days. I don’t know what our attitude will be like, except that we will be thrilled with what we have accomplished. My prayer is the next 7 days have services along the way, the heat isn’t quite so intense, and we meet a few pilgrims to connect with along the way. But if that doesn’t happen, we will continue to pivot because ultimately, we will finish what we started. This pilgrimage is full of memories already, I am sure we laugh about that summer we spent walking into the sun.

Walking stats from Sienna to Ponte d’Arbia – 25.21 km

  • Lodging at the Centro Cultural Center – donation

Walking stats from Ponte d’Arbia to San Quirico d’Orcia – 11.39 km, with a bus for 14.8 km 

  • Lodging at Ai Portali B&B – €100

Walking stats from San Quirico d’Orcia to Radicofani – 16.82 km, with a bus for 16.81 km 

  • Lodging at Casa del Ciliegio – €66

Walking stats from Radicofani to Acquapendente – 19.63 km, with a taxi for 3.5 km

  • Lodging at IL Borgo Ristorante Pizzeria Camere – €60

Walking stats from Acquapendente to Bolsena – 18.8 km (we did some road walking to shorten the day)

  • Two nights of lodging at Hotel Holiday Sul Lul Lago – €296 (too much, I know! But it had a pool! 🙌🏼)

*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.



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