Hannah Williams: Accidental Escape, la via Francigena

Mentre la Via Francigena si appresta a diventare scenario di una Maratona europea http://www.francigenamarathon.it/, tra gli studenti americani USAC a Viterbo c’è chi ha già fatto parte del tragitto…. facendolo diventare un posto da amare. Ecco il racconto

I walked six miles today. Two friends and I decided to go on a hike, and although it wasn’t our intention, we found the section of Via Francigena that goes through Viterbo. We walked for more than an hour down the stretch of ancient pilgrim road that goes from France to Rome. The part here winds down a paved road through dirt walled canyons painted with vines and lizards. For someone who comes from a town where nature is literally five minutes from anywhere you are, finding a pathway that took me out of civilization was a relief. I didn’t realize until today how much I missed the sound of nature and the lack of pavement, even if the road itself was paved and houses and driveways dotted the sides.

We started early for a Sunday (around 11:30,) and actually meant to go somewhere different, but after navigating through the old part of town we wound up by the fancy McDonalds, and decided to follow the road leading away from town. Little did we know, we were about to find a pathway traveled by humans for hundreds of years, and as we made our way past the Equestrian Clubs and a cave with a mattress in it we began to realize that we weren’t on any ordinary road around Viterbo. Eventually, after walking between two smelly fields–one had horses, the other had llamas–we walked about 30 feet up someone’s driveway without a gate and found a small field of flowers. My friend took out his picnic blanket and within 5 minutes we transformed into lizards, basking in the sun and hoping nobody came along to disturb us. Hours later we decided to stroll home and too quickly we were entering back into the city and leaving nature behind; the way home always seems to go faster than the way there when you find a destination you love.

Our city is beautiful, I really do love Viterbo, but the chance to leave it behind for the wilderness–or something like that–was a much needed opportunity I didn’t know I needed. Not only is walking good for your body, the vitamin D can help with everything from your skin to your mood, and being in nature is a good reminder that humans are in fact animals; we need trees and plants and animals as much as, if not more than, we need streets, stores, and buildings. Via Francigena provides an escape in Viterbo for those who need a change of scenery for a while, and since it’s a straight shot there and back it’s actually easier walking around there than the city itself. Not only is Via Francigena a road to France, it also feels like a road to freedom.

My name is Hannah Williams, and I’m an American student from California and Colorado. Viterbo is a big city compared to my hometowns, and I love the language, food, and culture of the ancient community. I speak Spanish and am here to learn to speak Italian, as well as write, read, and understand the beauty of my favorite Romance language. I have worked for multiple magazines and newspapers through my home university, Humboldt State University, and I spend my days managing a band, studying words, and eating all the time.

 

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