Finished. Suddenly feel exhausted. It’s been a marvellous journey. Physically very challenging but much time to contemplate as the pedals span round. Here we all are outside St Peters. 9 of the riders survived from our first trip along the Via Francigena in 2007.
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Eating lunch under the acacia trees in Aquapendente (“hanging water” from the waterfalls). The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre has an amazing 12th century crypt which reproduces the tomb at Jerusalem. Bare, empty, visible only if you pit €1 in the slot for light, there are figures at the burial, and then behind a metal grille the figures await the Christmas Nativity.
There are now regular viewings of other pilgrims on the way. Most are on foot with some on bikes. The route in Italy is reasonably well signposted. The lime tree avenues of France and Northern Italy giving shade along the route gave way to Stone Pines along the road in Piedmont. Now there are just pencil pines and harvested fields. Less than 100 miles to Rome.
We arrived before lunch in the beautiful city of Lucca. Italian pulpits are for mountain climbers. This one is in the Basilica. The glass cabinet behind the altar contains the dried corpse of the servant girl St Zita. There are definitely differences between Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism.
There are too always cats.
But why can we so rarely build public buildings which are beautiful and which we expect to last for hundreds of years.