Today was my first 'official' walking day, up to the eremo (hermitage) where St Francis often retreated up Mt Subiaso. The remarkable thing about today was that we woke to find some snow on the ground here in Assisi, and that seemed to surprise even the locals. It somehow seemed appropriate for a walk to such a sacred, austere kind of place.
I had breakfast then set off following my walking notes and map. I must say I really appreciated how easy we had it on the Camino where you usually just had to look for the next marker.
I overshot a corner at one point- not by much as it turned out, but I had visions of ending up in Spello a day early! But then my first Angels helped me- two local men out walking rescued me and walked me back onto the right route, even showing me a shortcut.
But then I struck a bigger problem, as I had a stomach upset. Needed a clean up. Luckily the camping ground wasn't far away, and I boldly went into reception at the Hotel Fontemaggio and said I had a problem and could I please use a toilet. The lovely woman on reception willingly said yes, and later called a taxi for me so I could return to my hotel. So if you are ever in Assisi, Hotel Fontemaggio seems like a very hospitable place.
I didn't want to miss out on climbing to the eremo, but wasn't sure how my stomach would go. Decided I may as well be profligate with a second taxi, and got the hotel to ring one so I could go back to the Porta Cappuccini gate. Later in the day I saw many large groups of school kids climbing the road from here, but I was glad to have walked the mountain track described in my route notes.
We passed by a tower and at that stage I realised how extensive Assisi's old walls still were. The track started off wide but not too steep, but after 20 minutes it became a much steeper challenge and my walking poles came out. One very special thing that kept happening was that it occasionally snowed, just very lightly, with small floating flakes.
As I emerged onto the road at the top, another surprise awaited me -horses! The man at my hotel told me they are wild on the mountain.
Soon I reached the eremo, a mysterious kind of place. I saw the rock which St Francis retreated to and used for his cell. I wandered in the grounds and saw snow lying thickly in places. The mystery of how Francis changed and lived his life was very present.
Plenty to ponder.
But it didn't stop me taking the third taxi of the day! I hadn't eaten any lunch and was running late, and wanted more time to explore Assisi itself. I gingerly ate a few cashew nuts, then read my trip notes for the descent, wanly hoping someone might even offer me a lift downhill. Blow me down, a taxi arrived disgorging its load of uphill passengers. He was going down empty, so he offered me a cheap rate and I jumped at it! This is a holiday, not a Camino, and I can make my own rules- in this case to the benefit of Assisi taxis as well as myself.
Now I have an issue with my power adapter - it seems it doesn't fit older Italian plugs. It will be interesting to see whether it works at tomorrow's hotel. If not, my blog posts might come to a halt, and I will have to severely ration my photo taking! Maybe I will find a better adapter when I pass through Spello tomorrow...