Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Day 49 - Cortona to Pozzuolo

After our rest day in Cortona, it was time to return to the trail. The stage to Pozzuolo appeared to have relatively easy terrain, although it would be one of the longer remaining stages (about 24 KM).

We left Cortona as the sun was beginning to assert itself. We climbed through the city to the Piazza Garibaldi, and then began to descend toward the plain to the south of the city. The early going was very pleasant, as we were mostly in the shade.

Cortona Receding

As the suburbs of Cortona faded around us. Soon we were back in open (and sun-blasted) farm country. We hiked toward the little town of Ossaia, which backs up against a ridge. On the other side of the ridge is Lake Trasimene, the site of one of the most important battles in Roman history.

In 217, during the Second Punic War, the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, had invaded the Roman empire from the north and was marching south toward the city. In a very shrewd military ploy, Hannibal arrayed his army on the ridge to the north of Lake Trasimene, and lured the Roman army, under the leadership of Gaius Flaminius, into an ambush. Hannibal’s forces fell upon the Roman army as they passed between the lake and ridge, and they were able to trap the Romans with their backs to the lake. More than 15,000 Romans were slaughtered or drowned. Another 15,000 were captured. It was one of the worst defeats in Roman history.

I had hoped that the Via might wander through this historic battlefield, but much to my dismay, after passing through Ossaia, it turned west and headed for the wrong side of Lake Trasimene.

As we passed under the railroad line, one of the high speed Frecciarossa trains howled past. The train would probably be in Rome within the hour. We still have two more weeks on foot.   

Farm Country

The rest of the stage was a long hike through farmland. For the first time we saw fields of sunflowers.

We also saw grapes, which I suspect are the basis for my favorite red wine, Montepulciano.

Montepulciano Grapes

Ultimately, the day became an endurance match with the sun. Walking exposed to the full blast of Sol, we slowly withered. Fortunately, just when all seemed lost, we reached the town of Petrignano del Lago. There wasn’t much there, but on the road out of town we found a bar. Cold drinks all around. Mary drank two bottles of water, while I had a water and an ice tea.

Refreshed, we were able to resume our trek south, and in much less time than I had anticipated, we reached our destination. Cumulus clouds have been massing over the nearby mountains, and it is possible that an evening thunderstorm might cool tomorrow down. One can always hope.

Mary of the Sunflowers

Today's Distance: 23.9 KM

Total Distance: 954.1 KM

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