Tuesday, September 6, 2022
From Sandy Brown’s, “Trekking The Way of St Francis”, “Standing at the edge of the Late Middle Ages, a time of the dominion of religion and the Church, Michelangelo and his fellow artists looked within Biblical stories for the classic and timeless beauty in their subjects. Their work gave rebirth to the Classical era and foreshadowed the Enlightenment and its love of science and nature.
The walk from Florence to Sanctuario della Verna reverses that progression, as pilgrims walk back in time from the Renaissance into the medieval world of faith. The six stage part of the Way of St. Francis carries the walker from the marble statues and frescoed vaults of Florence to remote Mountain retreats where centuries earlier reclusive monks, nuns and friars tamed their inner demons to find union with their Creator. The goal, Santuario della Verna, is a mountain top retreat held dear by Saint Francis, who loved it for its seclusion.
Memories of Renaissance masterpieces fade quickly as this stage travels through Florence’s tony suburbs into green hills, vineyards, olive groves, and along quiet bends of the scenic Arno River.”
Today’s walk of nearly 12 miles was a portion of the section noted above and our stopping point is an Agrotourismo spot: Villa D’Arte Agriresort.
It was a long morning as we had breakfast at 7:30, a meeting at 8:30, a mile and a half walk to the Basilica of Santa Croce and lots of informative stops at which our tour guide from Italy, Giovanni, explained flora, fauna, history and bios of many amazing contributors to the advancements of Florence and Tuscany.
Today’s temperatures were in the low 80’s by the time we set out, and in the 90’s by the time we finished. Though we walked along the Arno river in often park like settings, the traffic was always looming very close to us, and in some ways it felt very industrial until we were hours out and finally into the Tuscan type hillside. From that point on, the vistas became Oh So Beautiful – olive trees, vineyards, lots of different water fowl, even a few darting lizards! So much of our walk was supremely enjoyable with great comrades, yet the primarily exposed aspect of the majority of the day‘s walk had most of us melting and jumping at the spare opportunities of shade! We spent nearly six hours walking just short of twelve miles! The last thirty minutes tapped all of my reserves yet, Hallelujah, our lodgings were a sight for sore eyes and a blessing for tired, sun “caressed” bodies. Man did that shower feel awesome, renewing, epic -and, well I could go on but you get it!!!
The view from my window and the historic nooks and crannies of this building and estate transport me back into history as if I were a part of the elite of the day. Unfortunately, I’m not able to land on a website to give me information about the era of this estate or the building. It seems 15th century, but I really don’t know.
We had an amazing community dinner, and enjoyed the cool breeze as we broke bread together!