Monday, September 18, 2022
Biscina to Valfabbrica
15 kilometers, 9.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 966
Elevation Loss: 1,747
We’re getting closer to Assisi!! Well, of course every day we have been getting closer, but we’re starting to feel it now! Breakfast was pastries, hard bread, jams and juices. Certainly not my opinion of a breakfast of champions – or trekkers! Thankfully I do have my own stash of protein to augment when this is the case. We are fortunate truly to have breakfast included every day and something we don’t have to stop for or think about. As well, the accommodations have been amazing!! Almost in every case I wished we had the opportunity to actually spend more time enjoying the properties because most of the buildings had little nooks and crannies you could sit in to read or reflect, plus the pools and views…! Even as we were “in and out” of these lovingly operated bed and breakfast/agriturismo/hotel operations, I must laud our experiences as a special and eye opening way to further enjoy this walk across Italy! Having such historic places to lay my head and weary body has been considerably different than my walks in Spain along the various Camino de Santiago de Compostela routes, for sure!
We have seen very few pilgrims. At lunch and dinner yesterday we were in the company of a large youth group – maybe twenty or so. What a great opportunity for them!
Regarding yesterday’s trek and today’s, our route “…follows rolling and sometimes steep hills along paths of the trail between Gubbio and Assisi that St. Francis walked in 1206-1207 after his estrangement from his family. The undulating topography of the Chiascio Valley makes the region very scenic, and it’s populated with small farms and agriturismi. Frequent fields, streams and forests make this a very green and pleasant walk.” (from Trekking The Way of St Francis From Florence To Rome by Sandy Brown). As we left our Agriturismo this morning, with mist rising from the lovely Lago (lake) di Valfabbrica, we went by their cow facility. I love hearing the “Moos”!! We also went by a vacant “castle” (Castello Biscina”) that new owners had designs to turn into a hotel yet have run into some political issues. “Situated equidistant between the rival powers of Gubbio, Assisi and Perugia, Biscina castle (14-16th century) overlooks the strategic Chiascio Valley. It’s name, similar to the word biscia – Italian for snake – may envoke the snake-like tendrils of the many mountainous arms of the region. At its height, the castle had a moat and drawbridge as defensive structures, along with a high tower still partly in existence today, giving it a view over many miles.” (From Sandy Brown’s guidebook)
We made our way “down” to the Diga del Chiascio (Chiascio Dam) confusingly enough via some steep uphills!! I still don’t get how it works out that we seem to be going uphill almost all the time!! Sometimes for three or four straight miles! Up, up, up! Given that, you can imagine the descents are pretty steep as well. So much of our walking terrain is upon gravel, clay soil, rock and slippery shale. It was a gorgeous day though, and the views continued to be incredible! The dam is not being used. Apparently it’s not really understood why, but historically there have been issues with surrounding villages potentially being flooded and so it just sits.
Another very cool thing about this journey has been our daily and multiple opportunities to forage walnuts, chestnuts, figs, berries, plums, apples and sometimes even pears and almonds!!! They are all delicious but oh my, Oh My, THE FIGS!!! They are simply luscious!!!!
Even at that we stopped for lunch in the medieval quarter of Valfabbrica with its 12th century church, Pieve Santa Maria. Some found restaurants, I found a walkway to a nearby park to enjoy some rare alone time and a packed lunch of cheese and some green beans from our grocery stop yesterday (the only such opportunity this trip). Oh, and the youth group was there as well – pretty much taking up the entire square around a nice fountain!
We went about 3 kilometers beyond the town for our stop of this leg, Agriturismo Il Pioppo. I had my own casita! There’s a pool with festive lights and seating around it although it is closed for the season since the temperatures are dipping quite low now in the evenings.
Mattia, the proprietor, was very gregarious and looked like he would fit right in on a California surfer beach! Dinner was, you guessed it – pasta!! It was delicious with roasted meats and potatoes, too. I have enough left over for at least two more meals!!
Tomorrow we arrive in Assisi!!