Our final day on the Via Romea Germanica. After sixty-two days as pilgrims, our odyssey would come to an end.
The first portion of today’s stage found us setting out from the convent at which we had stayed. The convent was a couple of kilometers beyond the official starting point, so although the guidebook listed this as a 19 kilometer stage, we actually would walk a little further.
Rome has been having problems with its garbage collection over the past few years. That difficulty also seems to have struck La Storta, for the refuse containers were overflowing.
We spent the first part of the stage on the extremely busy Via Cassia. Hard asphalt under foot and cars blasting past us. Fortunately, there was a sidewalk for most of the way, but I was happy when we finally turned off into the Insugherata Nature Reserve.
Now here was an oddity. This park paralleled the Via Cassia, a large green space right on Rome’s back door. We thought we were done with bushwhacking, but the blackberry brambles were relentless and unwilling to surrender without a last few scratches.
We were not alone in this unexpected wilderness. We ran into a flock of sheep.
Our path turned into a steep ascent that broke out into the Roman suburbs. We were thrown back onto the heavily-trafficked streets, and worked our way through cars and slow-moving pedestrians.
The route then took us to Monte Mario, another city park. From the top of the hill we were able to see the dome of St Peters on the distant horizon. Clearly we were getting close.
The descent from Monte Mario switchbacks down the side of the hill on a rough cobblestone track. By this point of the walk, my feet were sore, and the added stress of trying to balance on uneven cobbles was most unpleasant.
After the last switchback, we re-entered the city. We placed ourselves on the Viale Angelico, and walked through tree-shaded streets to the Vatican. Although this isn’t the most beautiful part of Rome, it was much nicer than what we had experienced up to this point. I felt myself sinking back into past good memories of the Eternal City.
And then we hit the tourist throngs. My goodness. Thousands of people filled the streets as we approached St Peters. Nevertheless, having fought through brambles, faced down the treacherous slickenstone, climbed high mountain passes, and ferreted out the mysteries of the Etruscan cave, we were not going to be deterred. We worked our way slowly through the crowds and ultimately reached the Piazza San Pietro.
Our walk, which began two months earlier in Brennero, was done.
Today’s Distance: 22 KM
Total Distance: 1,200 KM