Fidenza to Cella/ Sant’Andrea Bagni, 18.31km walking
Near the main square in Fidenza we had our pre-walk coffee (9/10) and ordered another “asporto” (to take away) in Lois’ coffee thermos. Cafés are everywhere, but we have never seen anyone with a “take out” cup, or indeed any cafe offering them. Espresso is consumed sitting down or standing up at a counter, and seemingly often “on the run”, but never walking down the street.
We were encouraged by the clearing skies and, in fact, the weather was perfect for the whole walk – sun and scattered cloud, the temperature in the high teens. It was also one of our most enjoyable walks.
The trail was flat at first, following a bicycle/pedestrian path, and then climbed gradually away from the city. We passed the Church of St Thomas Becket, originally the chapel of a manor belonging to the Knights Templar. The guidebook mentioned a series of frescoes, but, unfortunately we should have arranged in advance to see inside.
While having a break sitting on a stone wall, a couple of walkers from Australia stopped to chat. Before beginning the VF in Aosta, Angus and Catherine had spent a month travelling around Eastern Europe.
By the time we got to Costamezzana, we had left the plains behind and were in the foothills of the Appenines. The rolling countryside was verdant with fields of wheat and hay, with masses of red poppies, the scent of roses, honeysuckle and other shrubs heavy after the rains.
We stopped at a trattoria, ordered a bottle of sparkling water and ate our bread and cheese on the patio. The landlord brought us out a pilgrim’s register to sign and a stamp for our credentials and shook our hands when we left. Later, we climbed up past the 14thC Castello di Costamezzana and carried on to the peak of a ridge at the Via Gabbiano. The views were spectacular. We called ahead to arrange to be picked up outside the church at Cella, a few kilometers further on and down in a valley.