Italy 2023 – Via di Francesco: Days 7-8

We made it!

This is the final post of the series documenting our trekking holiday to Italy in the summer of 2023 and its transformation into a hybrid trip for both pilgrims and tourists.

Via di Francesco – Day 7: Gubbio to Valfabbrica

Live a simple life.

Another 30-minute cab ride to a tiny little non-touristy village with one market, one bar, one pizzeria, and one gelateria. What else does one need?

It is a reflective day – we are lost in our thoughts of the past three weeks – and we plan an early dinner and bedtime. We want to walk into Assisi tomorrow, our final day on the trail, before the heat arrives!

It’s been 45 years since Iain, my English friend from the University of Stirling, and I drove into Assisi during our grand tour of Europe. I’m excited to return, this time on foot!

Via di Francesco – Day 8: Valfabbrica to Assisi

Brother Sun Sister Moon

After an early alarm, Joanie fixed a wonderful breakfast before we set out in the steamy heat of the morning on our last walking day – and I’m pleased to say we did walk!

We used a luggage transfer service to move one pack to our destination B&B in Assisi, while I carried the second with a topped-up water bladder we shared to give Joanie’s back a break. It helped a lot!

The trek was relatively short and a microcosm of the routes we had hiked earlier on this Via. It had everything: paved urban roads, crushed gravel farm paths, and muddy single-tracks; overgrown woods and hilltop meadows; buzzing bees, chirping birds, droning cicadas, and silent butterflies; breath-snatching climbs and ankle-twisting descents; perspectives back from whence we’d come and Wizard of Oz-like peeks of a distant “Emerald City” to draw us forward like a magnet.

As an ancient fortress on a hill, the 800-year-old Rocco Maggiore and the Basilicas of Saint Francis and Saint Claire can be seen from miles away and serve as worthy beacons. We passed by lovely vineyards, olive groves, and swanky villas before climbing the last steep hill at noon when the bells from numerous church towers peeled their greeting fanfares to our arrival.

Those of you who know me get that I’m not at all religious. But you will understand a bit of the emotion that welled in me upon our arrival, having had a lifelong affinity for the mythology of the man who put this town on the map. He raised my consciousness of a simpler life. Francis was indeed one of the good ones.

It was a treat to share the moment with Joanie and to celebrate our journey with fellow Via walkers and new friends at dinner this evening.

We’re going that way!

Always following the Yellow Taus!

Yes, up there!

We started this morning back down there…

… and we’ll end our trek over there!

Nice digs! The pool looks especially inviting…

When we reach our final destination, it’s hard not to ponder what we’ve just experienced…

Upon entering the Upper Church of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, I couldn’t keep my tears from flowing to hear Donovan’s beautiful ballad playing softly in the background. Yea, it’s a bit sappy, but the feelings are sincere.

The Lower Church of the Basilica is no less colorful.

Peace to us all…

Now… let’s eat!

Our last dinner on the Vias were shared with our new Camino family, from the US, the Netherlands, and Germany!

Day 8 Stats
Distance: 14.8km / 9.2mi
Elev Gain: 543m / 1,781ft
Time: 4:07
Steps: 32,922

We’ve been back home in California for a while and often talk about our 3 weeks in Italy, debriefing what worked and didn’t, and figuring out the lessons learned.

Thank you for accompanying us! Your reactions, comments, questions, and words of encouragement were vital to helping us along the way.

There are many types of journey – and vicarious ones can be just as fulfilling as physical ones. The thought that so many of you choose to join me here – from so many corners of the globe – inspires me to seek adventures and share the experiences with my friends. I’m not a Red Bull-like explorer, but I like getting out to see what I can do, and I particularly enjoy doing it with you!

Please take care – I’ll see you again soon!

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.

4 thoughts on “Italy 2023 – Via di Francesco: Days 7-8”

  1. Life should be a constant process of evaluating where you are, what you’ve learned, and what you need. Finding journeys like this to do that is the best. Where to next?

  2. Bravo! I am impressed and can see how coming to the end of this would be bittersweet, a fulfilling goal accomplished, but now in the rear view mirror.

    1. Indeed, Cinnia! Great memories of the past combined with strong lessons for the future. We’re already talking about where to hike next year.

      In the meantime, I leave soon to solo trek in Southeast Asia and hope to share more pics and stories here soon.

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