We had spent a very good night in Reiti since we had not slept for almost 24 hours. We woke up with lots of energy ready to go and begin our Camino of Saint Francis. We got directions on how to get out of the city and walked on a busy highway for three or four miles until we began our ascent into the mountains. We finally arrived at our destination, La Foresta, a small Franciscan monastery.
With confidence we begin our ascent into the woods convinced we were on the Camino.
The path became narrow and and very precarious. John fell and broke his walking stick so we decided we took the wrong turn and went back to another path and walked for a long time ending up on an asphalt road and we realized we weren’t on the Camino at all. So we returned to the monastery where we encountered two Italians who put us on the right path and we began to see signs but soon the path became more rugged and ended in a farm. We were losing confidence because we thought we made another mistake so we went back to the monastery. It was now about 3 o’clock and we had been working since 8 in the morning. We had walked in the woods for a long time and basically walked big circles. We had lost our Italian guidebook. We meet an American who started in Gubbio and said the stretch we were walking to Assisi was poorly marked and people were prone to getting lost. The good news was that the monastery was now open we had the opportunity to see another cave where Saint Francis slept.
It was past 3 o’clock and there was no way we could make it to Poggio Bustone before nightfall so we had to hitch a ride and got there in time for dinner. The hotel we were scheduled to stay in had been closed because of earthquake damage but the manager found us a B and B. We had a great dinner and conversations with Italians with lively interchange.
This is a town that played a part in the life of Saint Francis, who visited the town one day, knocked on the door at the arched portal, declaring “Buon Giorno Buona Gente,” “Good morning, good people” and proceeded to proclaim to them the Gospel.
He took refuge in another cave up the side of the mountain at the church of Saint James. We intended to visit it the next day.
We hoped that we could find someone who could give us a map. The pilgrims we encountered said this stretch is almost impossible because of poor signage. The stretch from Gubbio to Assisi is about 4 to 5 days well marked with lots of pilgrims. We had chosen the road less travelled.