Today’s Miles: 21
Total Miles: 3,545.3
Near Monte Motta, Italy – January 4, 2017
I watch sunrise then drop off the last mountains and into civilization. The trail melts into a faint dirt road as it flattens out into the valley. The road fades in with each step, becoming more defined until it solidifies into a paved single lane through the outskirts of a village. The route becomes a patchwork of stitched together paths, trails, roads, and sidewalks.
I walk along a lakeshore bike path and watch rowers glide across the water. A sidewalk fades in and out along a highway as it passes through a town. I wait for cars circling a roundabout then scamper across an open field to a walking path. I hug the shoulder of a highway as I peel clementines and eat them one by one. A quiet one-and-a-half-lane road leads me to a dirt track. A dozen different dogs bark at me through fences and under gates hung with signs that read “attenti al cane.” Some also have a picture of a gun and say “e al padrone.”
A long curve of road pushes me into the grass every time an oncoming car passes. I climb over, under, and around fallen trees that crisscross a dirt track. In the middle of them, I run into an Italian man and only understand the word “disastro” as he motions to a trunk hanging across the trail at chest height. I nod and crawl under it.
I think I’m lost when I expect to cross a freeway on the map then realize it is underneath me somewhere, buried in a tunnel through the earth. Two old horses look at me as I walk past their stable. I sneak across a highway between racing cars and stop for a moment by a roadside shrine to the Virgin Mary. There are a lot of shrines now along the roads and trails, tucked away in corners, growing more common with each step closer to Rome. Some are no bigger than shoe box, others are small buildings. This one is stuffed with flowers and photographs and glows with electricity as night falls.
I use the light to fish my headlamp out of my bag then I disappear down a dirt path to find a quiet spot in the woods for the night.