Italy 2023 – Via di Francesco: Days 3-4

Via di Francesco – Day 3: Sansepolcro to Citerna

We learned too late about the forecast of afternoon thundershowers…

Today’s stage was always planned to be a short one and relatively flat across the agricultural fields of the Upper Tiber River Valley before a final climb up to the medieval fortress town of Citerna, so we were in no hurry to get up and out.

Then, too late, we read the weather forecast. Sure enough, the weather folk called it right, and we were forced to put the rain covers on our packs for the last 30 minutes of the route. It was still too warm and humid to comfortably don our own rain gear, so two soggy bodies arrived at the doorstep of our apartment in the mid-afternoon hour.

Public Art (please don’t ask: I have no idea who these are or what it means…)

The first couple of hours were on flat farm roads cutting across fields of sunflowers and tobacco.

The Yellow Taus were small but always placed where we could easily find them.

What was not well marked was the border from Tuscany into the region of Umbria somewhere along these farm roads. It’s the third Italian region of our trip.

Despite the overcast skies and imminent threat of rain, the heat and humidity were still high. Joanie’s solar umbrella came in handy today, and I love wearing my cooling cloth as a headband.

We soon had our first glimpse of our destination town, Citerna, high on the hill.

We’re almost there – just up that hill. Can we beat the rain?

Nope! The rain caught up to us. Joanie tried to catch some raindrops.

We walked around the medieval village when the skies cleared later in the evening.

Dinner tonight included some highly creative dishes and desserts at Ristorante Osteria Le Civette. Foodies will enjoy their multilingual menu!

We were tempted to sit outside, but the bright interior felt more inviting.

Flan of Aubergine, Goat Cheese, Dried Tomatoes and Almonds
Ricotta Gnocchi with White Ragout of Lamb, Broad Beans and Mint

The art on the wall above me while I ate the lamb.

Semifreddo with Peanuts, Caramelized Chocolate Namelaka, Vanilla and Curry
Strawberry and Sichuan pepper Bavarian cream with thyme and bitter cocoa biscuit

Day 3 Stats
Distance: 12.7km / 7.9mi
Elev Gain: 311m / 1,020ft
Time: 3:01
Steps: 24,232

Via di Francesco – Day 4: Citerno to Città di Castello

Hmm…. What to do when the body doesn’t keep up with the demands of the plan?

Following a set itinerary for these Vias has brought more challenges than I’ve faced before when planning other trips. In most cases, contingencies are usually managed by simply tacking on some additional expense. Money can help with unforeseen schedule changes, language miscommunications, or lazy oversights. But no amount of money can be thrown at brutal weather, blistered feet, or sore backs.

In addition, while walking as a team of two, there are definite limits to how effective our teamwork can be. One’s speed or strength can’t be used to assist the other, but one’s debilities can hinder both peoples’ progress.

So much of our “success” or “failure” out here depends on things we don’t have full control over. We have “completed” one Via and are a few days away from “completing” the second – that new verb is now my definition of success. Success looks different than I had imagined when we set out two weeks ago…

Today’s projected route is 20.9kms / 13mi with 712m / 2,336ft of elevation gain. With no interim stops at which we can bail out if we need to, that is more than we can handle under the circumstances. We’ve elected instead to walk down the hill to a nearby village where we can catch a local bus on its sole trip through the area today.

As it happened, we met another couple, G & V from Holland, who had made the same decision to skip today’s walk. We shared a taxi they had called and were all in our beautiful destination city within 30 minutes.

Waiting for transport allowed us to drop our packs and enjoy a tasty breakfast before walking around Citerna under the sunshine.

Laughing replaced hiking as our favorite activity today as we got to know G & V!

One last look at the view from whence we’d come before saying goodbye to Citerna and driving in the taxi to our next destination, Città di Castello.

We had plenty of time to explore the city and the colorful Basilica of Saints Florido and Amanzio.

After the smaller towns of the past few nights, this city today feels like a metropolis – which presents us with many more eating opportunities. Even the most straightforward ingredients, like potatoes, are simply delicious!

Our hopes of losing some weight on the Vias are suddenly dashed now that we have more time to eat. What else can we do but laugh?

Author: Chris

Until 2019, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia focused on Community Economic Development. Before that, I was a high-tech executive, small business owner, consultant and business broker.

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