It’s almost eight o’clock, time to get started. I go slowly down the stairs of the hostel ‘Ivrea Canoa Club’. I walk out the door and, to my great surprise, find myself surrounded by 25 people waiting for me in the garden, ready to join and walk about 20 kilometers to reach Roppolo and our friend’s place, Loretta Tomasoni.
Greetings, handshakes, hugs, the traditional photo shoot, smiles and so much positivity from the very beginning.
Shortly after we start walking towards the center of Ivrea. Meanwhile our friend Paolo Facchin, always standing next to me, tells me stories about his town, the history, the myths and the passion that bring together so many of the people who tread the St Francis Way.
With us also there are our friends from the Club Alpino Italiano of Ivrea and from the AVIS of Ivrea (Associazione Volontari Italiani del Sangue – ‘Association of Italian blood donors’), as well as my friend Fabrizio Topatigh, a paralympic cycling champion, who first walks with us until Bollengo then rides his inseparable bike.
After leaving the town center of Ivrea we can admire on our left the beautiful lake of Campagna, while we walk through the woods, between the trees, on gravel roads, catching sight of small animals.
When we arrive at Cascinette d’Ivrea some friends are waiting for us to share a piece of cake, hot tea and coffee and the local speciality, salami with potatoes.
We have to walk on tarmac roads for quite a few kilometers but fortunately the surroundings are predominantly green and offer a delightful sight. We meet many people along the way who cheer us on, sometimes simply by waving their hands while driving or honking their horns.
Upon arrival at Bollengo we are welcomed by the mayor, Luigi Sergio Ricca, who joins in and tells us stories about his town while he guides us towards the church of the Saints Peter and Paul, fully restored and brought to a new light.
The temperature is of good help, it is hot but the wind dries off the sweat on our shirts. Every 500 meters I am reminded by my cellphone app that I should have a short break, just a few seconds: some exercices to reactivate my blood circulation and I am off again for another 500 meters.
We reach the central square of Roppolo around 3.30 pm where we are welcomed by our friend Loretta Tomasoni, whose energy and hospitality are worthy of a master host as always.
We enter her B&B Villa Emilia 1889 and… there goes the best refreshment: a 750 cl beer to share with her and the mentor Simone Pinzolo!
My hands hurt as well as my back and shoulders but I am satisfied for I have accomplished another important step on the St Francis Way.