Departure: Picinisco – 8:00 am
Distance: 12,5 Km
Moving Time: 2h 39m
Elevation gain: 1.011 mt
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1, 9)
During the night I had woken up several times, the perplexities in my head brought to my mind an old saying, between talking about, planning, and actually doing something, putting into practice, there was a huge sea. The first day of walking had been tiring, I had walked for more than two hours in such weather conditions that the rain had penetrated even under my waterproof jacket. I immediately learned how important it was to stay dry, especially my shoes, if you are very wet before leaving, you will have to dry yourself first, or you will walk really uncomfortable, or even worse you may get sick. And the situation was even worse at night, I had read how important it was in the past the use of the mantle for travelers, if you don’t sleep sufficiently isolated from the wet ground, and if you can’t cover yourself from the frost you can die of hypothermia.
I woke up early in the morning, making sure I’d finished putting my sleeping bag away before the opening hours of the town hall offices. I had a quick breakfast in the village cafe using the money from the offer I had received the day before and I immediately put my backpack on my shoulders, walking towards the suggestive mountain path that leads from the centre of the village to the border with Abruzzo. After a few minutes of road I still remember the sudden jolt I made when the calm of that wood was frightened by the grunt of a small group of wild boars that, evidently terrified by my passage, retreated into the thick vegetation. Amazing, the much considered choice to extend my route by passing through Abruzzo, began to reward me. From Cassino I could have taken the Via Casilina to south, the old Roman road that led to Capua, which would have led me shortly to Campania. But the purpose of my pilgrimage was not to reach my destination Jerusalem as soon as possible, but first of all to seek the most favorable conditions for my spiritual and introspective journey. Starting with the mountains of Lazio and Abruzzo would really give me the opportunity to “start off on the right foot”, united with nature, accompanied by peace, and surrounded by creation, fundamental elements that have always allowed me to alleviate my struggles. Even the wind seemed to want help me walking by pushing me from behind the big backpack, curious to know that the Hebrew word for spirit is ruach, which in its genuine sense means wind.
The walk of the second day ended in only 12.5 kilometers, more than tiring the mountain route I remember it as particularly complex. Thanks to the GPS support of my mobile phone, on which I had previously downloaded the maps for offline use, I was particularly well oriented even in the areas where the road was not traced. But near the lake of Grottacampanaro, for a couple of times I got lost having the impression that I was always coming back in the same point, and still today, zooming on the GPX track of that second day, I can’t help smiling embarrassed by that kind of unconsciousness that characterizes a pilgrim.
When I arrived in the gorgeous valley of Canneto I was still undecided if continue or not my day of walk, it was drizzling, the weather was not the best, but since lunch time had just passed I still could have four or five good hours of light that would have supported me. Doubtful, I went to the only place where there seemed to be someone to ask for information, and in fact near the refuge of the place I met a shepherd of cows who gave me very useful information. He strongly advised me not to go on to the Valico dell’Orso, the mountain pass, because of the bad weather, since he had just come down from those mounts, and he wanted to point out that although in the valley the light was abundant and the rain not so restrictive, at high altitude the situation was quite different.
So I decided to camping there and get ready for the night, but not before having eaten something in the refuge. I made acquaintance with some nice local people, while a very pleasant lit fireplace dried my soaked clothes, as well as the first day not shared with anyone neither the reasons for my journey, nor my final destination, I called home, exchanged a few chats with those present and enjoyed my well-deserved cheese sandwich.
Immediately after having had some refreshments, I went away to look for a suitable place to try to set up the tent, it was my first time. I remember how, in the weeks leading up to my departure, I had promised myself several times to try to set it up, I desisted in my backyard, just as I did that day in Canneto. Too complicated and too little need to mount it, or perhaps I was just very disinterested in spending my time on something that seemed so boring. Besides, the weather wasn’t so harsh, and I had time to find an alternative. Not far away I spotted a small wooden house, inspected it and although it no longer had a front door, it seemed to be ideal for my accommodation. After putting the bag in a corner and carelessly hanging some clothes that had remained damp, I made my way to the Sanctuary of Canneto, which I had heard about as a universal destination for pilgrims.
That sacred place was magnificent and deserted, immediately after my midday prayers, I allowed myself an unexpected but welcome visit to that place honored with the title of Pontifical Church. Inside stands out for atypicality the statue of the black Madonna that has always been the subject of speculation and various hypotheses. A representation is not to be adored, a prerogative imposed by the first two Commandments of the Decalogue, but I understand well the reason why this statue has been so contemplated over the centuries. A holy coloured woman in Occident, a very rare sighting that it is almost inevitable that it does not arouse a strong cognitive desire in the mind of an observer.
Some of the above mentioned guesses even involved chemistry, those pigments of that particular wood would have blackened over time, others instead hypothesized statues miraculously escaped from fire, or blackened by the smoke from the many votive candles. The sustainability of all these theories does not seem to me based at all on solid elements, also because the black Madonna was not only present in the tradition of that particular place. So what would be the point of preserving a statue of that characteristic dark colour with so much solemnity for so long if not to treasure a message? Like an epigraph that seals an eternal memorandun: We are all children of GOD, not because of race, origin, nationality, but because of the love we are able to unleash in the cosmos. To be considered saints we do not need wealth, but obedience, not beauty, but righteousness, not the color of our skin, but what lies beneath it, deep in our hearts. This is a testimony worthy of commemoration, beautiful and dark in color like the tents of the Ishmaelites in the Song of Songs: “I am black but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem! Like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not look upon me [disdainfully] because I am swarthy, for the sun has gazed upon me; my mother’s sons were incensed against me; they made me a keeper of the vineyards; my own vineyard I did not keep.”
Gpx Track Day 2
Max elevation: 1081 m
Min elevation: 652 m
Total climbing: 1791 m
Total descent: -1418 m
Average speed: 1.78 m/s
Total time: 05:42:43