Departure: Cassino – 6:00 am
Distance: 45,2 Km
Moving Time: 8h 08m
Elevation gain: 1.344 mt
“So do not fear, for I Am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your GOD. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous Hand.”
Isaiah 41, 10
The reason of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land was because a vow i made to GOD. I am very grateful for everything I had in life, and this was my way to show my gratitute to the FATHER, a sacrifice of my energy and my time. A pilgrimage is made for vocation, and never for vacation.
I left my hometown without money or credit cards only relying on the providence of GOD, and people’ solidarity. All my “tracks” were recorded by two Apps (Strava and View Ranger) that I always kept on during the walk to record truthfully and accurately both the chosen routes and the speed when moving.
“Peregrini enim sumus” is latin means “we are all pilgrims“, which is to say we’re all just passing by, all foreigner and all strangers, because the Earth, the creation, belongs to the CREATOR, and not to man. During this short journey that is living, we soon realize that every life is short and transitory, so it will be a good way to spend the days we have ahead of us to do something valuable.
Abraham is considered the first pilgrim, he left his family and his hometown following his vocation, and trusting in GOD’s Plan. I believe that my pilgrimage was never part of a program that I had, but that the decision to take the backpack and leave had already been written in the book of life, but I still needed preparation. I carried out a considerable amount of studies and research before my departure, not only in theology, languages, history and sociology, but also about the routes taken by the pilgrims of the past and geography. Obviously GOD always provides for the believer, but knowledge is a key that opens many gates on the path of those who have faith.
The first day was hard mostly because of the weather situation, the short but severe showers slowed me down and I had to find shelter before I could get back on the road. The walk was easy, although I felt on my legs and my lungs the about 18 kilos backpack on the uphill.
During my first stop in Portella (first picture) something happened to me that really encouraged me. About 4 km away from home, I interrupted my walk to refresh and recharge my camelbak with the water in a fountain on the street side. As I was catching my breath, a middle-aged man approached asking me if I needed anything. I thanked him and replied that I did not need anything, but he very cordially insisted, stating that anything I needed was enough to ask. Naturally I refused, I leterally just departed and I really had everything I needed for at least the next two or three days of walking. But his insistent cordiality came to me as an encouragement from Heaven to support my departure.
In the early afternoon my father reached me by car and offered me tea at a roadside bar. After the recommendations made and the concern that I read on his face, I returned (I believe) comforted by my explanations and my determination of the departure put into word the important research reasons of my pilgrimage.
We prepared to separate from each other after about twenty minutes together, and afterwards he made me an offering that allowed me to better manage the needs of the first days on the road.
At the beginning I didn’t want to accept it, one of my purposes for this journey was to find out if solidarity really existed in our contemporary society, but then he convinced me by saying that he was one of those men with solidarity that GOD had put on my path and so I accepted with a smile in my heart.
As sunset approached, along the road already tired and close to my first destination (Picinisco) a police patrol stopped me. They asked me where I was going, and my answer was very natural: “I am taking a walk to Picinisco”, omitting my final destination Jerusalem so as not to create unnecessary alarmism. They greeted me cordially, not before having checked my documents, but I didn’t take it as a formality, on the contrary I am well aware and grateful for how much work there is behind to keep a community as safe as possible.
In the evening, as per previous telephone agreements, my sister and her husband and nephews joined me and invited me to a restaurant in the town centre for dinner. I washed myself in the bathroom of the restaurant, I refreshed myself with the excellent mountain food and the family conversations, and after spending an hour or so in great serenity, my sister began to get a little melancholy. I also reassured her about the reasons for my trip which were so important to me, and so we said goodbye under the lash of a great rainstorm which seemed to weigh even more on our already fragile fraternal souls.
I walked here and there in the middle of the completely deserted village to find a suitable place to lay out my sleeping bag. I was sure I could fall asleep on an indoor marble bench that I had found only with the help of my rubber mat, but I was wrong. The night was long and the accumulated tiredness was too much, it was too uncomfortable and so I moved and found, in the open atrium of the town hall of Picinisco, an excellent shelter. I unrolled the mat again, placed the sleeping bag and lay down, but I didn’t get much sleep. I was alone, in the cold, in the dark, with lots of rain, and extremely tired, but everything was absolutely as expected. Hard, terribly hard but it was obvious, my first day as a pilgrim I still remember it as one of the hardest, but it is in the greatness of the test that we find the greatness of our faith.
Gpx Track Day 1
Max elevation: 937 m
Min elevation: 82 m
Total climbing: 1424 m
Total descent: -846 m
Average speed: 1.63 m/s
Total time: 12:49:20