Last Thursday, I met Hermano and Flora while they were taking a short noon hour break in Santhià. We chatted a little, and they treated me to a drink in te local café.
Out of the rain yesterday, three more pilgrims arrived at the hostel. The first to appear were Winfried and Birgit, who had begun walking from their home in Germany and who hope to arrive in Rome in time to celebrate Christmas there. Their two grown kids and Winfried's choir members are checking their website every day for photos and updates. Mindful of the generosity shown to me by Hermano and Flora last week, I offered to buy Winfried and Birgit a hot drink when I saw them go squelching past the window of the café.
While the three of us were sitting there, a third newcomer arrived in town. Unlike all the other walkers I've met so far, James is heading north. He had begun his journey in Greece, at the home of the late writer (and adventurer and WW II intelligence officer) Patrick Leigh Fermor. His plan had been to walk from there back home to England, but due to circumstances chose rather to backpack through Greece and the Balkans and walk home from Bari. I probably should have quizzed him more closely on the route he had followed between Bari and Rome, since that's the path I will eventually be following. Instead, we spent a few hours talking about life on the road, his observations on village life in Greece, and books.
Thanks to his recommendation and a somewhat late night last night, I am now a third of the way through Walking the Woods and the Water. This travel journal was written by Nick Hunt as a record of his 2011 attempt to retrace the path through Europe taken by Patrick Leigh Fermor in 1933-34. Much has changed in those eighty years!
After a quick stop in the café where Enrico was kind enough to take the photo of the four pilgrims, I headed back to the cosy warmth of the hostel. The rain is much lighter today than it was yesterday, so hopefully the three walkers will arrive at their respective destinations dryer this evening than they were yesterday.
As for my plans today, they include a visit to the library this morning, followed by lunch and then a trip to the hospital. Following that, I'll likely stop off at the grocery store again to replenish my supplies, and then back to the hostel for some more reading. Ambitious, aren't I?