When I left the B&B in San Lorenzo Nuovo this morning, it was with the intention of walking to Viterbo, some 43 kms distant. I reached Balseno, the next town, in good time, and from there I phoned the parochial hostel in Viterbo and asked if they were open. I explained that I might arrive rather late, perhaps by six or seven in the evening. No problems at their end, although the woman warned me they closed up by 8:00.
I did the math - I had eight hours to cover 32 kms. Easily done, even with a very steep climb out of the volcanic cauldron I was then in. I knew that once I reached Montefiascone (14 kms away), it was all downhill.
It was a good walk. Although it was mostly overcast, the sun broke through on occasion, at which point I would shed my outermost layer and roll up my sleeves. From San Lorenzo Nuovo, I descended 100 metres, walked parallel to the shore of Lago di Balseno, and then climbed back up another 270 to reach Montefiascone, on the rim of the crater. At this point, I was averaging 5 km/h even with the steep climb, so I was on schedule to arrive by 7:00, allowing for a few short breaks.
Once I walked up to Montefiascone, I was ready for one. The problem with these light Italian breakfasts is that they're just not enough to keep me walking for hours and hours and hours. While waiting for my pizza margherita, I swilled back a bottle of iced tea (which tasted strangely of lychee rather than lemon) and ran the time/distance calculations again.
Yes, I still had enough time to make it to Viterbo before the folks at the hostel left for the day, even accounting for a slightly different trail pace after dark. However, there is a great difference between walking towards a deadline versus walking towards a destination. I made the decision to stay in Montefiascone for the night instead of pressing on with a deadline looming. I could have made it, but it would have sucked all the pleasure from the journey. I phoned the parish in Viterbo to let them know I had changed my plans, and found a place to stay.
After a hot shower and change of clothes, I lounged in my bed for several hours, reading ahead in my guidebook planning the next few days, and catching up on Facebook. I also had a look at the weather forecast. Rain for Monday and Tuesday. Blech. I'm thinking of buying a Camelbak (or similar) hydration system, mostly because at present I need to remove my pack to get at my water, and that is a real hassle when I'm wearing my bad weather gear. (Yes, it's possible to get dehydrated while walking in a chill rain!) One more thing to look into once I reach Rome.
If I pull another few long days, I could be there by Wednesday evening, but I may stretch it out an extra day because of the weather and so that I can arrive in Rome in the daylight.