One of the selling points of this house was its proximity to the Sentiero Francescano, a trail from Assisi to Gubbio that San Francesco (St. Francis of Assisi) took hundreds of years ago. The trail happens to pass through Valfabbrica and, happily for us, through and around the hills near the house.
We were sitting around having coffee and I got restless (hmm, coffee, restlessness, connection?). “Let’s go for a walk,” I told The Spartan Woman. For once, now that it was safe to walk without having a stroke, she agreed. We got in the car, just to avoid the boring walk to the trailhead, ditched the car, and set off.
And oh.my.god. It’s just stunningly beautiful. The views, the blue sky, the ruins, the little country church, the olive trees, the sound of rustling leaves. See for yourself:
The trail is actually a “strada bianca,” or white road at this point, fairly wide with some gravel. There’s a steep incline to start, but it levels off somewhat and there are enough vantage points to take in the view. This was our first exploratory walk, so we weren’t sure how far we’d go. We did it on a lark, so no water, etc. But every corner urged us to go further.
At one point, we got a closer view of a ruin that we’d seen from across the road from our house. I was wondering what it was—from afar it could’ve been another farmhouse on a ledge. Of course we had to climb the hill and round the curve to check it out.
We met hikers coming from the opposite direction, one of whom seemed nervous about the sheep further down the path and the sheepdogs. We had to assure him that the dogs were harmless and they were only interested in guarding their charges. Their human is Luciano of our neighboring agriturismo, Ca’Mazzetto.
The Sentiero, we’ve learned, is just part of a network of trails that run through this area. The trails are well-marked, and there are periodic info signs that tell you what you’re seeing—even in English.
One of the trails, the Via Francigena is actually a long series of trails that, incredibly enough, connect Canterbury, England, to Rome, and onward to Puglia. We decided that that was a tad too ambitious for this Wednesday morning. Its site looks pretty good, and offers all sorts of advice for those who want to tackle at least part of the route. Eric Sylvers, a reporter who wrote freelance pieces for my old magazine, actually followed the route through much of Italy 10 years ago. You can see some of his videos here.