Assisi tour – minus day 4 / Hills, yikes!

I’ve just come from Uluru.

It’s flat out there.
Damn flat.

Here in Tuscany and Umbria, it’s hilly.
Damn hilly.

It worries me.
Soon I will have to walk it, or rather ascend it, and descend it. I will have to do this with vigour, aplomb, and derring-do, because I’m leading this tour group and I’m meant to be the guy out front that shows how it’s done.


I should have trained more.
I didn’t do enough Mt. Miserys. (I think that’s the correct spelling in this context.)
In fact, I only did one Mt. Misery, which in the whole scheme of things, is pretty damn miserable.

I feel like I’m under prepared, physically, and that wouldn’t ordinarily be a concern, however I have one half of the Landers Express on this tour – Peter Landers – and he’s going to rib me mercilessly if I pike out on any of the stages.

I know I won’t. I’ll walk every kilometre.
No, let me correct that – I will walk most every kilometre, and stagger the rest.

Today before we left Sansepulcro we went to a museum and saw one of the great religious works of art – Polyptych of Mercy, painted by Piero della Francesca in 1445.

Mercy pic

It was pretty cool.

As we were leaving I saw a member of the museum staff carrying a very old statue of Jesus into another room.

I was somewhat taken aback at where his hand was –

carrying Jesus

Fortunately he was wearing a glove…

We then met up with Elena at Pieve Santo Stefano, one of our stage stops.


She was giving the van a test run, to see if she could reverse park it up a hill in a narrow lane. She couldn’t, but that’s ok.

It was great seeing her again, and she will be a wonderful asset to the tour.

Also I spoke at length today to Ivan the Terrible, who is married to his Beautiful Wife Giovanna. They will be joining us out of Sansepulcro, and walking with us for three or four days.

Those of you who have read my book – The Way, My Way – would know that this wonderful couple featured prominently on my Camino Frances. They are delightful people, very funny, and I’m thrilled that they’ll be joining us, even if for just a few days.

Later Jennifer and I drove south to Gubbio – another stage stop – which is where we’ll spend tonight and tomorrow night.

Gubbio statue

We spent the evening wandering around the cobblestone streets, and had possibly the best meal of this current trip. Magnificent home made pastas, eggs with truffles, all beautifully prepared. We’ll take the tour group there when we come back to Gubbio.

Tower at gates

Locanda menu

I thought today about the ethos of the pilgrim.

When I first started out, I was a bit narrow minded about all that. I was a bit of a hardliner. I really felt that you had to walk every step, you had to carry your pack all the way, you couldn’t catch a cab, you couldn’t catch a bus – you had to be a true pilgrim.

Now I realise that’s all nonsense.

None of that matters.

I had to go through that at the time when I walked the Camino Frances, and subsequently on the Camino Portuguese too, and I’m really pleased I did. But I’m much more relaxed about those things now. It’s not that important.

The only thing that’s important is your intent.
What’s in your heart.
The real reasons you’re walking a pilgrimage route.
All the rest is pride, ego, and things that in fact get in the way of you being a true pilgrim.

As you walk more Caminos, and as the need to prove stuff to yourself and to others gradually dissolves, the true growth begins…

Jen walking down Gubbio street

13 thoughts on “Assisi tour – minus day 4 / Hills, yikes!

  1. You saying that you don’t have to carry a full pack all the way and walk every kilometer?? Ha. You are a maniac and will make it as hard as possible. If I were there, of course, I would take the easier way as I did on the Portuguese with you. And as far as being an example, you will be up and gone at 4 am and your poor hapless followers will have to hope they can find the way and the meeting place for dinner. Tour organizer — Absolutely. Tour guide — I hardly think so. 🙂

    Know you will all have a great time and I look forward to the non walking tour in India.

    Your home bound Mate, Steve

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    • Steve, now that I’m fully awake, I just want to correct your comment.

      On the Portuguese Camino, the only time I left early, and in fact it was 6am not 4am as you said, was so that I could get into Santiago before all of you so that I could collect all of the Certificates from the Pilgrim Office.

      This meant that you didn’t have to stand in line for hours, because it was Easter Saturday and there was a huge number of pilgrims arriving that day.

      I had prearranged all of that weeks earlier with Johnny Walker, head of the Pilgrims Office.

      Irrespective, you didn’t need me to guide you on that stage or on any stage of the Camino. It’s a Camino. It’s all way marked. I’m not a Camino guide.

      As for your comment about getting lost going to dinner – Jennifer and I did two scouts of that route beforehand, and we had every restaurant worked out and prepped for our arrival, including alerting the restaurants to any particularly dietary needs some of the group had.

      On one occasion at Caldas de Reis, we made a late change of restaurant. If you remember we were going to eat at the hotel, but we had discovered there was a terrific restaurant across the road from the hotel that had previously been closed, but would be open.

      I wasn’t happy with the standard of the food at the hotel, hence the change.

      We told everyone, but you and Arlene weren’t present. We asked Catarina to inform you but for some reason, that didn’t happen. When we realised you weren’t with us, Catarina immediately went and fetched you.

      Remember that meal we had though? It was spectacular. One of the best meals on the tour. I’m glad I made that change, but I’m sorry there was a slight hiccup with communications with you and Arlene that day.

      Sometimes these things happen, but obviously you remember the hiccup, and not the great dinner we had.

      I apologised at the time, and do so again now.


      • Hey Mate, chill. My entire comment was kidding you and I had no idea you would take personal offense. I would never offend you knowingly.

        And no Bill, I do not remember the hiccup and in fact, I had forgotten about the lost dinner by the time it was over. You have never known me to berate or be condescending to you and you never will. You read a whole lot more into my post than was there.
        Somehow this got way out of hand. Nuff said.
        I still love you and hope you love me. 🙂


          • YOU TWO!! like kid brothers, who have to rile with each other a bit—you crack me up. You are so interested in each other !

            Bill you are going to have an amazing trip, love that you care so much about each detail. It is quite a lot to take on. But you have it all in order. it sounds to be a great variety of experiences and lovely countryside. Walking or riding everyone will have it unfold as it should for them.
            Do you still get to say Buen Camino in Italy!
            Buen Camino to you all. Love the pictures that you have been sending! Walking with you in spirit


          • haha – Kathryn – Texans and Aussies, what more can you say? Yes this coming tour is shaping up to be a beauty. Also, Jennifer and I have spent a good deal of this afternoon going over the itinerary for the Indian tour in September, and we’re very excited at the way that’s shaping up too. But yes, attention to detail is incredibly important with these tours – especially since every one is new – it’s not like we have an established itinerary etc. Each one is handpicked. It’s very time consuming… but worth it! 🙂

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