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.
Bougainvillea by the roadside. Olive trees. Travelling past Carrara: large slabs of white marble in yards by the roadside. And the darkness of the Cathedral, out of the heat of the sun, speaking of some mystery.
We’re on the way to Lucca and clearly took a wrong turning. A happy chance as we have ended up drinkng coffee in the town square of Pietrasanta. Temperature climbing well into the thirties again so sitting under the umbrellas in the shade is perfect.
The Bishop of Fidenza said prayers and blessed us, splashing us with Holy Water. He talked about Michelangelo who would stand back to see the whole sculpture. Pilgrimage, he said, is like standing back and seeing our lives from that distance, a necessary perspective.
Now we are having lunch in the shade after a fantastic climb in 37 degree heat.
Fidenza is the HQ of the Via Francigena Association. The Bishop of Fidenza came out to greet us and give us his blesding. The Bishop of Ramsbury failed to wear the correct episcopal garb. Fortunately General Synod voted last week that vicars can wear what they like. Will lycra catch on?
70 miles to go in the heat including the 3000ft Cisa Pass. Aulla tonight.
Pizza in Vercelli for 6 Euros. Vercelli is an ancient city in northern Italy. Famous amongst many other things for being the home of the manuscript of the great Anglo Saxon poem The Dream of The Rood. This is a poem of the Passion from a little earlier than Sigeric’s 990 pilgrimage in which Christ the King strides across the land to climb the cross with determination. The poem is written from the point of view of the cross.
Piacenza tomorrow. 84 miles through the rice fields. Flat as a pizza.
We’re on the road again. Swooping down to the Po Valley from Aosta. Yesterday was apent variously eating sleeping reading shopping. In the evening we went to a micro brewery where they sold Reggae Beer. Not quite sure what was Reggae aboit it but it tasted fine.
I went to the cathedral and sat in the nave for a time. The wooden pews were worn down by the knees of people praying. It reminded me of Canterbury Cathedral where you can see the extent of Thomas Becket’s shrine by the grrove worn in the stone of the Trinity Chapel floor by the jnees of medieval pilgrims praying.
We’re now by a lake eating lunch in hot sunshine. 25 miles to go to Vercelli.