13-14 September 2017
Departure: Villetta Barrea – 7:20 am
Arrival: Rionero Sannitico
Distance: 29,1 Km
Moving Time: 5h 29m
Elevation gain: 665 mt
The house where I woke up in the fourth day, it hadn’t been used for a long time, but that bed was really comfortable. On a mattress you move less, much less than when you sleep on the floor, and when you wake up the energies reappear, while the thought of walking for another day disappears.
The day was warm and cloudless, the journey ahead of me was so long that I decided to take a day of complete rest, my walking could certainly wait, and so I decided to recover some extra energy. I spent almost the whole day at the river, considering it a real natural Spa, I washed my hair, and I put my tired legs into the very cold September mountain water several times.
It was the fist day of rest on a 101 total days of pilgrimage (95 of walking). In the afternoon I went to greet a friend of mine in the town who, due to a fall from a horse, found himself convalescing in bed. He also made me a little cash offer, initially I was embarrassed to accept it, but I knew that the trip could reserve me some unforeseen events, and so I gladly accepted. I spent the rest of the day mainly relaxing, doing stretching and in the evening my friends generously offered me a very abundant meat dinner (picture below) and after saying goodbye and express my gratitude to them, I went early to sleep. The support, during those first days of adaptation, of the people you love greatly increased my confidence. I never doubted a single moment that I will make it to Jerusalem, Faith in GOD is the only objective reality that can generate in man an inner strength that makes you forget suffering, indigence and loneliness, but honestly I believe that none of them expected that in the end I actually could really complete my journey.
The next morning I went to the historic oven in the town, where they kindly offered me a delicious loaf of bread just removed from the oven. The bread is preserved for a long time in the backpack, even more than a week if fresh, and softened by the water returns to feed like freshly baked, but those two pounds ended up just the next day. It is difficult to limit yourself to eating when you spend about 4000 calories on average just walking (my apps on the phone constantly monitored my physical activities).
I get back on track along the magnificent side of Lake Barrea (video at the bottom of the page), and once I crossed the bridge I reconnected to the Tratturo Pescasseroli-Candela which from Civitella Alfedena leads first to Barrea, and then continues through Civitella Alfedena‘s land. Rediscovering this path now eclipsed by civilization and often covered by vegetation, it was a really stimulating goal for me. I asked myself several times how our “progress” could have neglected the importance and beauty of a road with a natural road surfaces about 200 km long and more than 60 meters wide. A real decay for such a significant World Heritage Site, but thanks to GOD in recent years many organizations are working to bring back to light and safeguard at least part of this treasure. The uphill path of the drovers’ road it was pretty hard, mostly because I lost myself several times. I frequently found sections of this path bordered by stones carefully piled by our ancestors, suggesting which way to go, but even more often I lost myself in the dense vegetation. The maps and the technology have always brought me back to the areas still visited by shepherds, and therefore easily visible and walkable. But some traits were completely hidden by the time, the thick bushes had by now taken full possession of them, and the scratches the thorns did on my naked hands (plus the sun) visiblle still today, after a year and a half, remind me of how much strength conceals in nature. But everything was just too pleasurable to stop my desire to get to my next destination, and after a while I found myself at the base of the split mountain (Montagna spaccata).
I really spent a lot of time to overcome that trait, I was not aware that the name “spaccata” (“split”) referred exactly to its particular geology. A fissure in the rock of many hundreds meters long located in a very fascinating area, although not very well traveled even from the point of view of the paths and of the walks. The fracture in the rock apparently seemed to be surmountable, but after numerous attempts with miserable failed, and without the aid of a path, I decided to walk the footbridge over the dam’s ridge. I couldn’t avoid stepping over a high gate that was blocking my access, but really the previous continuous attempts to cross that pass had exhausted me. I had finished the provides, the imminent need to supply me with water, and the very hot sun reminded me of how the excellent destinations are reached through the most narrow roads. My first emergency, and my second vital lesson learned: Better to be weighed down and slow in moving by water overload, which is light and terribly thirsty and exhausted. So also that morning had passed, and once I had crossed the long ridge of the dam (and bypassed a further fence) I rushed to the only distinguishable building, ringing to ask if I could refill the 5lt camelbak.
Nothing is far-fetched for those who really have faith, I didn’t receive only water, but one of the guys who worked there (only after I realized that it was a small building of the hydroelectric power station) knew me well since we had shared moments of sport together. In another region, and a long time ago, but that didn’t matter, I had water and had the opportunity to hug a friend. I skilfully avoided the questions of the guys intrigued by the wayfarer, and refused their invitation to their lunch break. The unespected precedent was delaying me, I had to reach Rionero Sannitico before sunset, and I left with my Sacred Scriptures in Mp3 format to give me company and support in my headphones.
Shortly after I lost the tracks of the sheep track and found myself at the gates of the beautiful village of Alfedena (municipality of the upper Sangro’s Valley), where I took a short tour to admire the beautiful houses of the historic center, and walked away following the tree-lined State Road 83 Marsicana. My footsteps were accompanied by a warm sun, and in the midst of the attractive nature of the Abruzzo’s National Park, I decided to “cut” through the fields to save a few kilometers (I kept doing it for all my 95 days of walking). I found and walked on an old one track railway (photo), but because the large stones at the bottom slowed my pace, I cut further through a drove of cows, surprised aaboutt how hospitable these large cattle were to a stranger who respectfully crossed a territory under their administration. Animals almost always more hospitable than men themselves, this is the conjecture.
I arrived before sunset at Rionero Sannitico and I proceeded to enter into the Church for my evening prayers. Prayer is mainly praise to the CREATOR, thanksgiving and meditation, but that evening for me it was mainly thanksgiving, GOD continued to be on my right side (Ps. 16, 8). Once out, I tried to find a grocery store to eat something, closed, was a weekly rest. I was really tired and hungry, I gave myself a “gift”, pizza. I thought it was a good way to invest a little amount of money of the offers received so far. I went in, sat down, and ordered. After I washed myself completely and furtively in the bathroom I really felt like a prince in front of that four cheeses Pizza. Night came, and it was late to ask for hospitality. I was too embarrassed to ask for help in Church, it was only the 4th days of that life. I slept outside, sheltered from the branches of the pines, I remember mainly the soft place on the grass that I found, the dogs that barked at my every little noise and a few drops of rain.
“I have placed the LORD before me constantly; because [He is] at my right hand, I will not falter.”
(Book of Psalm 16, 8)