Notes from my walk on Via Francigena

Introduction

Via Francigena is a pilgrim route that runs from Canterbury in UK to Città del Vaticano in Rome. The track follows the way that the archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric the Serious, took on his way back from Rome in circa 990. He noted the cities and villages he passed, but not the way between. This has led to a lot of variants of the actual track to walk, which can cause confusion between pellegrinos. There is a lot written about both Via Francigena and Sigeric on Internet so I will not add more here. For more details you can start with Wikipedia. All places mentioned here can be found on Google Maps.

Pellegrino is the Italian name for a pilgrim.

I decided to walk the shortest distance that should allow me to get the testimony of the pilgrimage at arrival in Rome. So the starting point was Acquapendente. I started the walk on Wednesday May 11 2016 and reached Rome on Tuesday May 17. This is my story.

And "I" is Lennart Agestam that just have finished one year of studies in Italian. Besides testing my skills in Italian there are several reasons for doing a pilgrimage tour and walking in Italy. I live in Kalmar in the southeast Sweden. My mother tongue is Swedish.

All photos are © 2016 Lennart Agestam except where otherwise stated. To get in contact with me you can e-mail via.francigena@agestam.net. This e-mail will be in use until there is too much spam, when it will be removed.

Navigation tools

I had access to the following navigation aids, which I used (or not used) in different situations:

·         Paper maps "La Via Francigena cartografia e GPS" by Monica D'Atti and Franco Cinti. I did not use the paper maps at all while walking. I only used the GPX files, which are excellent.

·         The GPX files that you can order when buying the paper maps in combination with the Android app GPX viewer – really good working except some shortcuts on the tracks. The app works well also offline during the days. Google maps are cashed if you update on the hotel at night.

·         The signs on the track – most reliable.

·         Via Francigena, part 2, guide book from Cicerone – very much a verbalised map. Wish it could have less "turn left after the big stone" and more description of what to see in the different places. Not possible to use while walking in case of rain.

·         The SlowWays app from iternAria – too coarse with offline maps, much better if you are online and select an online map

·         Google maps stored offline in phone – does not show the track but contains hotels, restaurants and other things.

·         Fellow pellegrinos who were more prepared than me

I general the markings along the trail are good. You hardly get lost if you strictly follow them. I want to know where I am and how far it is to the next goal and for that I used the GPX files/GPS viewer on my phone. Sometimes the electronic map was also needed to confirm selections and to plan for the next day.

How to get there

On May 10 I left home early and took the 5:00 train to Copenhagen Airport. A flight with Norwegian to Rome and the local train took me to Stazione Roma Tiburtina. From the Tiburtina bus station there is a daily bus to Acquapendente. It is LINEA 6.

Figur 1 The bus station at Roma Tiburtina

I reached Acquapendente at around 17:30 and checked in at the charming Albergo Il Borgo. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed on Tuesdays.

Figur 2 Albergo Il Borgo in Acquapendente

Acquapendente – Bolsena

Wednesday May 11

I started around 9 in the morning after a sparse Italian breakfast – coffee and a croissant with Nutella, basta. A light rain accompanied me the first hour, but I never really got wet.

Soon after leaving the village there was a sign about Via Francigena Marathon. I’ve done marathons – several – and that is something completely different from walking on a pilgrim trail. Here it is time for thinking and reflexion, not for wondering when the blood sugar level will become low. The advantage was that these signs were sometimes the only clear ones to follow.

Figur 3 Sign for Francigena Marathon

Walking on small roads and the last part on the main road I reached San Lorenzo Nuovo on mid-day. Time for coffee, panino and some rest at Bar Centrale.

Leaving San Lorenzo you get the first view of Lago Bolsena. Lago Bolsena is a volcanic lake, the largest in Italy. It is surrounded by a ridge, which is the old volcano. Montefiascone is located on the highest point of the ridge.

The way soon turns left into a park area and stays there all the way to Bolsena. No sign of human life except for a few other walkers. I think there were about 3 other persons walking the same section that day. During the day I saw two of them. The track went uphill and downhill on small trails. Mostly there were signs to follow except for one crossing where there were signs in two directions. I took the right path, while the left was correct. It stopped at an open field in fallow. Walking along the edge of the field and with help of some instinct I soon joined the correct track.

The track later follows small roads with almost no traffic. The most common flower that time of the year was the poppy that sat a red tone to all fields.

Figur 4 A beautiful turn around a rose shrubbery

Bolsena is entered “from above”. You are high above the lake. The entrance to the city centre follows an interesting footpath with descents and stairs down to the lake level.

I found a good hotel, Zodiaco, at the exit end of the city. I was too hungry to wait for the restaurants to open at 19:30 so I just had a simple pizza and turned to sleep early.

Bolsena – Viterbo

Thursday May 12

Next morning began with a decent breakfast with yoghurt and juice. Good, for this was to be a long day, even though I was not aware of that yet. I took off at eight.

The first part goes along Via Cassia, the main road to Rome. The original Via Cassia, today called Via Cassia Antiqua, was built 200 – 300 years before Jesus walked around in Palestine. The current version is a main road for motorised traffic and has the same name all the way to Rome. The path turns right after a few km after passing a Coop where supplies can be refilled. Pellegrinos are guided to stroll along a beautiful landscape on small roads. The way is fairly clearly signed although a map can help shorten the way a little.

At lunch time Montefiascone was entered. This was around 12:30. It was supposed to be the end of the today's stage. I did not want to stay here half a day doing nothing, nobody to talk to and just be sitting at a hotel room. Would it be possible to walk half the distance of next day's stage? A discussion at the tourist information indicated a possible Agroturismo at half the way. I know they are quite expensive, but OK, in case of rain or other problems it could be an emergency alternative.

But first I needed lunch and a tour around the village. Lunch at restaurant Mamma e Pappa (No not Swedish = Mum and Dad, but Italian = Mum and Mush, Swedish: Mamma och Välling). The absolute best Spaghetti Carbonara so far, followed by a homemade Tiramisu of high quality. I was thirsty and asked for a large beer. Was suggested a speciality, which I accepted unaware of the price. Actually you should have wine in Montefiascone; this is the origin of the Est! Est!! Est!!! wine.

Figur 5 A special beer that cost more than a spaghetti carbonara

Feeling strong after a healthy lunch I decided to continue after visiting the borgo and its fantastic view over the Lago Bolsena.

Figur 6 The fortress giving protection for popes with Lago Bolsena in the background

The borgo (fortress) is located at the very top of the city. It is today an archaeological site with a fantastic view. In ancient time the borgo gave protection to popes that wouldn't dare to come close to Rome.

Figur 7 View from the borgo with the duomo

Montifiascone has a fantastic duomo that I should have seen from the inside, not only from distance. After visiting the borgo I went on the steep road down through the old city.

Figur 8 Was Cinderella here?

When leaving Montefiascone the road continues on the Via Cassia Antiqua for a while. On some parts the original paving still remains. You walk on stones placed there by the Romans, or more likely, their slaves. I feel the history in my feet!

Figur 9 Via Cassia Antiqua

Passing a thermal bath on the way, where people sat outside in several small pools, I finally reached Viterbo by six in the evening. Ten hours on foot except for the lunch in Montefiascone. Now I just needed a hotel and then some rest. Now I learned something; Viterbo is not a town, it is a labyrinth. There are whole blocks that have only one common entry and exit point, even for pedestrians. There are crossings on the map where there in reality is a bridge with five meters between the streets, and so on. Normally in an Italian village you just walk into the centre, find a decent hotel and get a room. I went around in the centre for one and a half hour without seeing any hotel. Two B&B found on Google maps were closed. Then I was asked by a woman if I spoke English. –Yes. –What is the thing in the middle of an olive called? –I suggested "kernel", which was accepted. Should have been stone, but kernel is used in computer language for the software in the middle. As a fair deal I asked for an albergo qui vincino, a hotel nearby. Si, va dritto al la chiesa, girare a sinistra, proseguire fino al porto, girare a destra, proseguire circa 1 km e albergo è a destra. Super, there was a hotel. It was a **** hotel with price accordingly, but it was almost eight in the evening and I was tired and hungry.

I ate some of my lunch supplies from Coop in Bolsena and fell asleep.

Viterbo – Vetralla

Friday May 13

Morning on a **** hotel means a steady breakfast. Good for a pellegrino. Leaving Viterbo the path takes a detour through an important Etruscan site. I was curious to see what they had left for us to discover. Etruscans were the people living here before the Romans came, saw and conquered. The Etruscans had a rich culture with a lot of influence from Greece. How about the site? Well, it was an Etruscan tomb, i.e. located underground. Visible is a stair going down in the middle of a meadow. It is covered by a construction in armoured glass not possible to look through except for a small hole in the glass. Thanks' for the detour.

Figur 10 The sign showing where to go

Then it is just to follow the clear signs showing where Via Francigena goes. After crossing an autostrada four times it finally takes a nice gravel road into a small forest. There for the first time that day I saw other pellegrinos. Since I made two stages yesterday I had now phased in on a new "wave" of pellegrinos. This wave consisted of several groups and much more people than the one I had left. I passed a group of Italian women. Later I learned that they always were the slowest since they spent so much effort on talking. No, I have no preconception about Italian women, I listen and learn.

Shortly after that, there was a nice place for rest where I stopped for lunch. I had the last remains from Coop in Bolsena and some water. It was windy and almost rain in the air, although it never fell down.

The track passed over the Via Cassia main road and continued into an area with small houses, continued into a forest and ended up on a road with absolutely no signs or hints on which direction to take. Thanks' to the offline map I could choose the correct way and continue up to Vetralla. Wise from last evening's excursive walk in Viterbo I had made a reservation on Albergo Da Benedetta.

Figur 11 Albergo Da Benedetta in Vetralla

Da Benedetta is a small nice hotel where I got a room with balcony. Unfortunately the restaurant with the same name driven by "La Nonna" was not of the same quality. The simplest bruschetta ever, bread with olive oil, basta! It was me and one woman (obviously Italian) in the same room and a large "famiglia" in another. The staff paid all attention to the other room and hardly looked at us when serving.

I took a walk in the town and looked around. It is funny built on top of a ridge. In the ridge there are several man made caves. I wonder if there is any direct connection from the houses down to the caves.

Figur 12 Caves below the houses in Vetralla

Vetralla – Sutri

Saturday May 14

Breakfast in the morning and off again. I had not even left the old town when the rain started. This was my day of rain. The track went into a beautiful forest with some strange messages on the trees.

Figur 13 Signs in the forest south of Vetralla

Ok, cinghiale I know. It is Italian for boar (Swedish: vildsvin). And attenzione indicated that you should take care of some kind. Was it a warning for the boar? Hardly, since they are very shy in daytime and normally keep away from humans. I continued and later checked with my dictionary. Battuta di caccia al cinghiale means boar hunting and only on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Shortly after Vico Matrino there was a road lined with tall pine trees.

Figur 14 Pine trees lining the road between Vico Matrino and Capranica

At lunch time I reached Capranica in heavy rain. I stopped at a bar just before the portal in the village to have something to eat and a coffee. It was Saturday and the bar was filled with men playing cards. They were hardly looking at a stupid man spending the day outdoor of free will. I was already wet and no chance to get dry in near time so after the coffee break I continued in the rain. No photos taken for the rest of that day due to the weather.

I arrived at Sutri in the middle of the siesta so the hotel I found was closed. But there was a phone number on the door that I could call. This was the graduation in Italian language: to book a hotel room on phone. Success, including an explanation that I was waiting outside the door. So I was let in and got my room. Now it was time to dry clothes. Walking poles are excellent support when need to dry cloths in a hotel room.

Figur 15 My hotel room in Sutri

Time for some siesta waiting for the dinner. No restaurants open before 19:30 so there was also some time to look around the city. Sutri is a very old city, as most of the cities along the road. It has an ancient Etruscan amphitheatre cut out directly in the mountain and also a church cut out in a cave in the mountain side. Unfortunately both were closed and did not open until 9:30 next morning when all pellegrinos have left. But it was possible to take a photo of the amphitheatre.

Figur 16 The amphitheatre in Sutri

 Back on the hotel room I could study some translation from Italian to English that I could have done better myself.

Figur 17 Instruction for how to handle the shower door

Time for dinner. The restaurant "Via Roma 54" has "pilgrim menu", meaning a fixed menu for pellegrinos at an attractive price. Va bene! I entered and got a seat. Strange, but in the same relative position to me as yesterday was the same woman sitting, also having dinner. Since we now had met twice I was invited and we had dinner together. This was actually the first conversation I had since leaving home. Stefy, as her name is, is bilingual English-Italian so conversation in English and some mentorship in Italian. A nice conclusion of a hard and rainy day.

Sutri – Campagnano di Roma

Sunday May 15

Morning and breakfast. The clothes were not dry yet but wool socks works perfectly even when a little humid. I left Sutri, passed the amphitheatre and denied help from a lady that tried to divert everyone into a long detour through a forest. The correct way was to keep straight on following the main road for a while.

The track turned into small roads with very little traffic. Although meeting a culture object. Nostalgic I thought of our blue Renault 4, 1969, that in 1978 took Maria and me all the way to Cognac in France and back, with a stop in Paris to get engaged. We are still happily married!

Figur 18 Renault 4, the station wagon version

I reached Monterosi just when getting hungry. I was focused on finding a bar so I missed the left turn in the village. Found a nice bar where I could sit outside and have a coffee and two tramezzini. I looked at the map and realised how to get back on track again. There were a few drops of rain when I left the bar, although almost sunshine. After crossing the Strada Regionale 2 (SR2, Via Cassia main road to Rome), that now had become an autostrada there was an important track selection. First alternative was along the SR2 on a parallel road, not recommended. Second alternative a 4 km longer detour through some forest area, recommended. Looking at the sky and knowing the weather forecast I decided to take the shorter alternative. After all, it was not on the autostrada, I thought. How wrong I was. After a while the parallel road disappeared and the only alternative was to jump down on the roadside of the SR2. It was a little scary meeting all Italians out on Sunday tour. After 300-400 meters I could leave the SR2 and walk on strange abandoned roads. The last part while leaving SR2 I was forced back on the roadside and walked on the slip road meeting all traffic entering on the SR2. Yes, they were looking backwards on the upcoming traffic and not forward toward me. I walked very close to the railing.

Anyhow, the day ended well and I reached Campagnano di Roma not too late for lunch. I stopped on a piazza to decide which hotel to take. Then the thunder started over me. I realised that it was a matter of few minutes before the rain should start. A quick decision was to select the closest hotel and rush there. Yes, there were free rooms. Yes, I could get lunch. And, yes, it really started to rain.

I had some siesta and used the hotel Internet. In this hotel WiFi only worked in the office, so there I sat with a chain smoking woman and did my Instagram. This hotel really focused on security with some very advanced keys. Several were identical.

Figur 19 Key to room 6 at Albergo Benigni

I had a nice dinner with Stefy and two German women. Now I learned about the different groups walking in parallel. There was the Brazilian, a group of women filled with jet lag and some injuries. The Italian group, that I passed the day before yesterday, slow of all stopping and talking. The German group represented in today's dinner and the Italian/English represented by Stefy. I was then the Swedish section and the only male pellegrino of all.

During the dinner I got a report on how it was to take the longer, safer track in the forest instead of along SR2 as I did. Actually it was even worse! They were all hit by the rain, a hefty thunder storm. They walked on slippery, muddy trails in the forest with the thunder all around them. I was happy that I took the SR2 version.

There was some talk about next day's walk where there should be a fording (Swedish: ett vad) over a torrent. I did not think it could be so dangerous bearing in mind that most pellegrinos eventually reach Rome.

Good night and good sleep.

Campagnano di Roma – Isola Farnese

Monday May 16

Breakfast in the morning and then pay for the room. We had to wait while the woman in the office were finishing her cigarette and then could pay attention to us. I was the last one to leave the hotel and take off.

Soon after leaving Campagnano di Roma I catch up with the Italian section. They had stopped for some reason, perhaps to tie a shoe or so. I am impressed by Italians since they can talk all at the same time and still hear what the others say. Or do they?

I passed them and continued to Santuario Madonna del Sorbo. This is a small chapel built on a site for a mystery that occurred sometime in the 14th or 15th century, a beautiful little place which also has been a monastery.

Figur 20 Santuario Madonna del Sorbo

Walking down on the stairs towards the monastery I suddenly saw a snake. It was a long black one with green/yellow stripes. I stopped and quickly took up my phone for a picture, looked two seconds on the screen to adjust the zoom and looked up again. Swish, the snake was gone. So I did not get any photo. I later found out that it was a Green Whip Snake (Swedish: gulgrön pisksnok, Latin: Hierophis viridiflavus). You can see it on Wikipedia. It has always been considered to be non-toxic but recently someone has discovered that after around five minutes of biting there can be "suspect symptoms, including problems with neuromotor skills". I wonder who came up with the idea to test. "Let all snakes bite me for five minutes to find out if which actually are poisonous." How many did they test?

Figur 21 Monastery of Santuario Madonna del Sorbo

I continued into a park area where horses were going freely. And then after a while I caught up with the German and English/Italian sections. Together we entered Formello for coffee and some tramezzini. Here the route was not fully clear. Some descriptions pass outside Formello and some enter the city. So after Formello there was uncertainty about the track. I suggested following my map and going straight to the point where we joined the track passing outside of Formello. So we did and ended up on a narrow road with heavy traffic. We had to walk on the roadside for some kilometres. I don't think the Germans ever forgive me for that. If you happen to read this: Please forgive me, the other way was probably better.

Figur 22 Horses in Valli del Sorbo

Then there were more discussions about the fording. What if the heavy rain yesterday had caused flooding so it was impossible to cross? I said we have poles and they can be used, no problem. At one point the signs pointed to the right, while the map indicated left turn. We followed the signs and found ourselves on a completely new footpath. A new way had been built that offered a shortcut directly to Isola Farnese and by that bypassing the fording at Torrente Valchetta. The way was not present on any map or in any description we had and seemed to be only a few days old. This was a little anti-climax on the fear for fording.

Figur 23 The new way before Isola Farnese

We had a nice walk along the new way that took us to the waterfall Cascata della Mola just before Isola Farnese.

Figur 24 Cascata della Mola

Based on a hint from Stefy I decided to stay in Isola Farnese instead of continuing to La Storta. In Isola Farnese an order of nuns runs a hotel named Casa Nostra Signora.

Figur 25 Entrance to Casa Nostra Signora in Isola Farnese

It is a beautiful place with a lovely garden.

Figur 26 Casa Nostra Signora

Figur 27 The garden at Casa Nostra Signora

Isola Farnese – Città del Vaticano

Tuesday May 17

The following day was the last day of my walk. The path here goes a lot along the Via Cassia and later Via Trionfale, two main roads with heavy traffic. Still in company with Stefy we decided to bypass that section. A bus took us to Stazione La Storta. A short visit to the Capella della Visione, a small chapel built on the spot where Saint Ignatius Loyola had a vision on his way to Rome 1537. Then we took the train to the Stazione Monte Mario. From there it is a short walk along the Via Trionfale to the north entrance of the Riserva Naturale di Monte Mario. Walking through park is a very good way to enter Rome. There is no traffic and suddenly you see the whole city with the Basilica di San Pietro in the background.

Figur 28 Rome with Basilica San Pietro and a French pellegrino

The rest is a piece of cake and eventually the Piazza San Pietro was reached. This was the goal for my seven day walk, although it was planned to be eight days.

Figur 29 Piazza San Pietro, Roma

Collect your last stamp i the pellegrino passport in the pilgrimage office on Piazza San Pietro. It is also possible to obtain the Pilgrimage Testimony here. This is the proof that you have done a pilgrimage of sufficient length. But if you feel that to be real the testimony shall be collected in the Vatican city, do not get one here; you can only get one.

Figur 30 A pizza in Rome, photo © 2016 Stefania Messina

Stefy and I went to get a pizza for lunch to celebrate the completion of the Via Francigena. After several days of intense discussions and talks this was the "last supper". I went to my B&B and Stefy went to her family outside Rome.

This is a thing when walking on a Camino. You meet new people and find a lot of things to talk about. You spend some interesting days together and then just "arrivederci". We would probably not meet again, but still have some contact over e-mail.

Three days in Roma

How to get a bed for the night

My first of three days in Roma started with finding my B&B. Despite the fact that I arrived one day earlier than booked I decided to walk the 45 minutes to them hoping that there was a free room for me tonight. The B&B was located in an apartment and all was run by one young woman only speaking Italian.

- Ho una prenotata per domani ma arrivo oggi. Avete on camera libera oggi?
- No
- Qualcosa consiglia?
- Si

So no free room tonight, but some recommendation could be possible. She started to phone somewhere and then continued with her normal duties. People were coming all the time, people were complaining about the shower, neighbours were complaining that the guests didn't close the door to the lift, etc. So I asked if I could just get the address to the other place.

- Aspetti (You wait)

She took a break and a little coffee. I asked again for address.

- Aspetti!

And then suddenly

- Adesso (now)

She took her jacket headed for the exit and I just followed. We walked away and obviously her intention was to guide me to another place.

- Qui vicino o lontano da? (I learned that in my Italian lessons. "Is it close or far away?)

- Qui vicino – ma con Metro.

We went by Metro and tram and then by foot. And suddenly there it was a nice guest house. She showed me the room and explained that tomorrow I should be fetched by someone in car.

I would say that was an excellent service! It was indeed a good idea to try the B&B first.

Next morning I got an offer in form of an SMS to the room maid: "Stay where you are for the same price. OK?" This meant a few euros more than the B&B but a lot fresher room. Response: "Yes, accepted"

How to get to the Città del Vaticano

When all was clear about the room it was time to go to the Vatican. How? Well tram must be good since it runs both outside of the guest house and close to the Vatican. Not far from the guest house was a big joint for many lines so I started in that direction. I overheard a conversation on how to get to the Vatican; take line 19. On the joint I took line 19. Immediately my instinct said: wrong direction. Una ragazza, that offered me her seat, confirmed that so was the case. I learned two things: I should go the other direction and I am so old that young girls offer their seat for me.

Change direction and off we go. When we passed the guest house I realised that I could have taken the correct line and direction from the beginning. Line 19 is not straight on to the Vatican. Somewhere in the northeast part of Rome it was suddenly a stop on the line. It was "bloccato" according to the driver, which meant that everybody had to leave the tram, which then closed the doors and left the stop. We were all standing confused on the platform and took the next tram, a number 3. Number 3 stops close to the Swedish Institute. And then finally next number 19 all the way to the Vatican.

It was time for a coffee and a panino. The bars at Via della Conciliazione are probably the most expensive in the city, but you can always get it "al banco" (on the desk) for a decent price.

The Basilica San Pietro

I strolled along on the Piazza San Pietro just to inhale the atmosphere of the city. It was of cause a long que to the Basilica and I do not like queues. It was also Wednesday, which is the day you can get audience to the Pope. A lot of people had tickets and left the Basilica very happy.

Around every 25th year the Christianity has a jubilee year. Last was 2000. The Pope has declared 2016 as an extra jubilee year, the Jubilee of Mercy. This means that the Basilica San Pietro and all other basilicas in Rome open the Holy Door. That is the middle large door which otherwise remains closed. The Holy Door opened at 13:00. Suddenly there was a separate queue of around 50 persons for those who wanted to access the Basilica through the Holy Door. I joined the queue and suddenly I entered the Basilica San Pietro without having to queue.

Figur 31 The short non-queue in the foreground and a part of the long queue in the background

To enter the Basilica San Pietro through the Holy Door as a conclusion of a pilgrimage walk felt rather big. You are not unaffected when that happens!

Figur 32 The Holy Door of Basilica San Pietro

That the basilica is an impressing building we all know. I am quite confused over all people visiting important places around the world and only turning their back towards what is worth to see. This is just to let someone take photo of them in the front of everything. Why not look at the real thing when you are there instead of looking at photo when you have returned home? Are we so ego today that we must put our own faces on all pictures?

I took one picture in the Basilica on the Pietà, one of the most beautiful sculptures of the world.

Figur 33 The Pietà without my face in front of it

The Vatican Museum

When I left the Basilica I was offered to buy tickets to the Vatican Museum for an extra high price. That ticket should let me pass the queue to the museum. Nice, I paid around 10 euros extra, later finding that there currently was no queue at the museum. I think I will have a chat with Jesus about the merchants in the temple.

After entering the museum I focused on the Sistine Chapel. There is a lot of fine art of different kind in the Vatican Museum. Fine art you can find in many places, but the Sistine Chapel is only available here. Video and photo is not allowed in the Sistine Chapel. I sat down on one side and stored the room in my mind instead. We all know the famous fresco in the ceiling made by Michelangelo, but not everybody knows of the fresco on the altar wall. It is also by Michelangelo and illustrates the last judgment (Swedish: yttersta domen). I think it is even more impressive than the ceiling.

Figur 34 The Vatican Garden seen from the museum

An access into the real Città del Vaticano

The remaining task for the last day was to get the testimony of the pilgrimage. This can be obtained from the sacristy of the basilica. It is then necessary to enter into the Città del Vaticano. You explain your reason for access to the Swiss Guard and are allowed inside. You then continue to the registration office to get a badge for the access permission. While walking to the office, who is coming in the opposite direction if not Stefy. Just coming out with her testimony she prepared me for half an hour talk with the serving priest, but promised to wait for me on the outside. In the registration office I got my badge for access.

Figur 35 Badge for access to the Città del Vaticano

I went towards the sacristy but was stopped at the entrance by an official.
– Show me your pilgrimage passport.
– You have the stamps, wait here.
He disappeared somewhere and returned a minute later with the Testimony. Probably the priest had gone for a coffee break or was totally exhausted after talking half an hour with Stefy, or both. Anyway, I got my paper and returned out. Stefy and I had a last "
camminare" through Rome and a last goodbye at Piazza di Spagna.

Figur 36 Testimony of pilgrimage

The header of the testimony says: "Testimony of pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter", in Swedish "Vittnesbörd om pilgrimsfärd till Petrus grav". I am not an expert of Latin so I am not 100% sure about the text, but the meaning is something like that I showed piety and made a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St Peter, the apostle, to understand that it is built to the glory of God and the honour of the apostle St Peter himself.

Return home

The next day I returned home with a lot of photos and memories. As usual Italy has shown itself as a country that can take care of visitors. There are good food, nice hotels and reasonable prices. My little Italian worked well much due to the locals willing to understand.

It enriches your mind to do a pilgrimage, the first days to just enjoy life and nature, the last days adding company and contact with fellow pilgrims. Thank you all that I met on the tour. And thank you Maria who supported me to go.