Mamma mia! We are tired. That was a bit longer than expected and the showers forecasted two days ago never came. The clouds forecasted yesterday never came. The sun sure did though. I know I’ll be cursing the rain at some point but now I’m cursing the sun.
Our mileage today wasn’t exactly standard for a variety of reasons. The guide book said to expect 27km. We even shortcut some areas and still ended up with more. How? Part of it was my fault but I think the guidebook also stopped counting at the edge of town.
The whole trail for us today was 38% on gravel, dirt or vegetation but if you are following us, your mileage may vary. The first couple of kilometers out of Chivasso were obviously on sidewalks and blacktop road edges. There was nothing special about it but also nothing dangerous. Then we followed the marked trail on dirt between corn fields for about 5km until we reached the tiny village of San Raffaele Cimena. Other than meeting Cher there, while she walked her dog, that village was significant because it provided our second breakfast for the day. It also put us on blacktop again for an extended period.
This section was along a small canal, but on a road all the way to Gassino Torinese. There is where things got tricky. We had two possible GPS trails to follow but, lately, the marked trail matched the purple one on our map. According to that, we were supposed to turn right in the center of town and go back down to the canal but on a trail instead of a road. When we got to that point to turn, the arrows on the marked trail told us to continue straight. I wonder why? After a hundred meters or so, we decided to shortcut back to the road leading to the canal. It looked shorter and was off road.
That shortcut was ordained by God because it took us past another bar and breakfast number three. Yeah! After a pleasant conversation with a woman who never grasped that we didn’t understand her rapid-fire Italian, we went down to the canal where we met the loudest dog whisperer ever. He had a menagerie of about 20 dogs with no two of similar breed or size. None were leashed and he was trying to coax them all onto the trail that we needed to be on. It was hysterical. He’d yell at one laggard and two more would try to go a different way. He’d yell at those two and four more would go back with the first dog. He”d yell again at the first dog, a lab, who promptly sat down, cocked his head to the side and gave the look that asked “why are you so loud?”.
Eventually the dogs all got moving in the right direction and we followed. This turned out to be a God-send too. The trail was obviously rarely used and soon overgrown with vegetation. The dogs did a decent job of flattening the smaller weeds. Unfortunately, we hit a “private property” sign forbidding entry to anyone and we normally would have turned back. With the dog whisperer and his gang ahead of us though, we felt emboldened and just climbed around the gate… and the next one too… and a half dozen more similar gates. If we got caught, we figured that we would just start barking and say “we are with them”, pointing to the dogs.
Fortunately, we never got caught but the vegetation was getting thicker and thicker with every step. We could only move at 3km/hr. The last 800m though was a decent trail. We just need more pilgrims or dogs on it.
At the end of the canal, we needed to cross the river but before that, there was a little village bar that was just perfect for another rest and refresh stop. We shared a soda and brioche, before heading off again. After 300m though, I reached for my sun glasses on the back of my neck. Uh oh! I left them on the table outside the bar! I started to run back but Melanie shouted to drop my bag. That was a good idea so I’m giving her credit for the extra 600m back and forth. I sprinted the whole way in my boots but was too late. The couple now at what was our table said they didn’t see any glasses. I sat down in disgust at my error. The couple suggested I ask the bartender inside. Great idea and just as I opened the door, the bartender motioned to me. Someone saw the glasses and turned them in. God loves honest people!
Now dead from my sprint, we decided to take the most direct and shortest path to the hotel instead of walking along the river. We probably saved 2km but at the expense of walking through a pretty dismal part of Turin. That’s okay though; we found another bar for a toilet and drink break. We stopped a lot today – our kind of pilgrimage!
Because of our late arrival in Turin, we also decided to keep to our plan and stay one extra day here. We want to visit the Shroud museum, the cathedral, the laundromat and the bank. Tomorrow’s steps will most likely not be counted.
Before I forget, last night while searching for a credential stamp in Chivasso, we walked into the main church where the rosary was being said. They do that a lot here. We found the priest in the vestry but he explained that the stamp was back in the parochial house and he didn’t have time to get it before mass which started in ten minutes. He promised to stamp our credentials but only after mass. I guess that was one way to get us to Sunday mass. We did amazingly well in quietly saying all the prayers in English and we even managed to sing along on several hymns. True to his word, he beckoned us after the mass and we followed him at double quick speed to the residence for a beautiful addition to our credential.
Finally, as I sit here finishing the blog, in Turin, Italy, I should mention that we are having dinner in Down Patrick’s Irish Bar, with Melanie eating a hot dog and I’m chowing down on a cheeseburger. That’s what I call real cultural interbreeding.