This is the beginning of the section of the trek that I have been looking forward to – (1) Tuscany and (2) no more mountains.
Trying to find the way of Sdarzana though was very difficult. Around 80% of the people I asked had never heard of the Via Francigena and of the other 20%, nobody seemed to know, or agree, on where it probably was.
The maps I had didn't help. I had three different maps of the Via Francigena and each showed an entirely different route.
I found this problem all along the way, but now it was ridiculous as being in a city, the number of road otpionss to choose from, made finding a correct route a huge challenge.
The authors of the Lightfoot Guidebook, created their own route, which mostly did not follow the Via Francigena markers when they did exits, and thus only added to the total confusion of the trek.
I knew the Via Francigena went through Luni, and there was an ancient monument in Luni that was worth seeing. So I decided finally that the only logical option was to do as the Lightfoot Guide had recommended and take the main road.
Big mistake! I found Luni, but the road was a busy one, narrow and winding with crash barriers on the sides. It was dangerous as cars hooned round the bends and there was again nowhere for me to escape. I could see myself getting plstered against a crash barrier by an Italian practicing for the Grand Prix.
Walking on the hard bitumen was sending sharp shooting burning knives of pain through my feet. To make it worse, I had been expecting scenic countryside and quaint villages, but the road wound through an urban area – so boring.
I am feeling fed up with the bad signage, a trail that is difficult to find, putting my life at risk walking on dangerous roads. And now it is ugly boring suburbia. To top it all off, it is very lonely. It is certainly not a trail to walk alone. On the Via Francigena the lack of pilgrim refuges means you have to expensive hotels and that in turn means at the end of the day you are alone yet again.
Very few people have even heard of the Via Francigena so trying to find it, or stay on it, is a daily challenge.
Tonight I stripped off to have a shower feeling pretty jaded with the whole walking on roads thriough suburbia thing and discovered I had rubbed my hip raw during the day. Must have been from my backpack. And, massive angry raised red welts have appeared on my legs. Concerned about he welts spreading and the wound becoming infected, I dediced – that's enough. Time to pack it in.
I enjoyed the mountainous sections of the Via Francigena as hard as they were, but I do not enjoy this flat land section at all. It is the part of the Via Francigena that I had been most looking forward to reaching, and now I am here I hate it.
I thought Luni was going to be a village. Instead it is suburbia. I went in search of the ancient monument and found there is an archaeological research site based on Roman ruins. It made Luni worthwhile. There is an amazing Roman amphitheatre as well. But it was closed until 5pm and I am too tired to return. So I contented myself with peeping through the fence.
Tomorrow I will head back to Milan. I have three days left and I will now spend them resting up in Milan. Goodbye Via Francigena.