Today Michael and I decided to save about 5 kms of walking by following a rural road directly from Santa Cristina to our next destination, Orio Litta. Because we started early on a Sunday morning, we met very little traffic on the way. We had wondered what we would do about dinner, not knowing whether there would be anything open in a small town in northern Italy on a Sunday.
We needn't have worried. About 4 kms from our destination, we spotted a supermarket on the side of the road, located between two villages. As we approached, we were delighted to see vehicles turning into the parking lot. This may have been the only store in a 20 km radius that was open today - certainly it was the only one we saw. If we'd followed the marked trail for the Via Francigena, we'd have missed it entirely.
After roaming the aisles for a few minutes, we'd each selected what we thought would do for our next few meals. It's amazing how well one can eat on €5 a day! And that will do for our meals tomorrow, as well.
We were in no great rush, since last evening, the priest in Santa Cristina had called ahead to Orio Litta on our behalf. The pilgrims' hostel in this town is run by the municipality rather than the church, but we were assured that our lodging would cost no more than Saturday's, i.e. nothing at all.
It turns out that our contact person in Orio Litta was none other than the mayor of the village. Pier Luigi Cappelletti unlocked the hostel for us and showed us around the retro-fitted medieval tower and hall, and then literally presented us with the keys to the city hostel.
On our arrival, Michael had mentioned I was having some issues with my foot, so the town doctor made a house call later in the afternoon. I knew that my blistered right foot had not been improving over the last few days of walking, but after having a look at it and then dressing my poor abused flesh, Luciana told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to walk for at least a day.
Pier Luigi stopped by to check in on us while Luciana was finishing up, and he assured us there was no problem at all for us to stay as long as necessary. The pilgrim facilities in Orio Litta are wonderful, so staying here an extra day is no great hardship for us! He also mentioned that perhaps a journalist would stop by for an interview tomorrow. They've seen pilgrims a-plenty in this town located near the traditional crossing point of the Po River, but I gathered he'd never met one bound for Jerusalem before.
I hadn't really considered my trek of folly newsworthy. I'm not averse to sitting down (!) and speaking with someone. Having lost some weight over the past seven weeks, I'm certainly more photogenic than I was when I left home and took up the life of an itinerant. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
What it will bring is a follow-up house call to check on my foot, and hopefully give me a clean bill of health to continue walking. Once I arrive in Piacenza, my first order of business will be replacing my footwear and buying new socks!
This evening I finished reading The Canterbury Tales, and began reading Moby Dick. (Both in the public domain and available as a free download through Amazon.) I don't expect to finish reading it any time soon (barring any further medical exigencies), but it's good to have something on the go. And now, to curl up under the covers with Herman!