It seems right, at this point, to draw some personal conclusion about this long experience on the road, about these months passed walking in always different places and new for me, often with wonderful people I also met during the journey. Above all, the one I walked with and lived with for the past two months.
A determined and courageous woman, with a strong character, that can also be seen touched by the love she received from the many people who followed her along her journey. She started from Santa Maria di Leuca in Puglia taking with her a message about violence against women and I had the pleasure to meet her once she arrived in North Italy. I decided to accompany her to the end of her journey. I never had doubt about the fact she could do it, neither when, along the part of Italy which led us to the French border , I’ve seen her managing difficulties between the path and the commitments with radios, associations, institutions and various appointments.
We learned so much about each other in these past two months and we learned a lot from the others, because the path, whatever it may be, it’s made by people. The only way two people who have to live together for 24 hours a day everyday to get along is to be mutually true to each other and confront themselves about difficulties to fix quickly the possible misunderstandings.
After all the road I walked at her side then I could not close this interval in the world of the Blog without some words from her:
“One day I decided, after the first journey to Santiago that I wanted to repeat this experience, that I would have walked again, with more awareness and more logistic and technique experience. An absurd hypothesis because the path, whatever it may be, cannot be engineered, it’s naturally unpredictable. It imposes its times, its paces, its roads, its ascends, its descends, the rain, the sun, the wind…you can only decide when to start and walk…often even stopping is a decision you cannot take. As the ones you will meet while you’re walking.
I made a wonderful journey, made by extraordinary things…incredible encounters and places which cannot be recounted in detail by pictures.
My #steptostopviolence has never been just mine actually, it has been owned by everyone who followed me virtually, by the ones who accompanied every step I made day by day for 120 days. A path which passed through Italy, France and Spain bringing with itself a message of hope: stop killing women, stop the violence against women.
I walked for the victims, with the victims and sometimes with the same executioners more or less aware of that violence that is not just physical but mental, infinite and which destroys life day by day.
Daniele has been the companion of my journey, he walked with me for a long stretch of this formidable experience, and shared everything with me, 24 hours a day with great respect, with great helpfulness and generosity. He took my hand when I was in need, waiting for me when my body was tired and slow , listening to me. The path together taught us to reciprocally respect the good moments and the bad ones, with patience and care, and this is not a simple thing.
An experience that after 5000 kilometers changed radically my life but that gave me the opportunity to meet many people who will inevitably be a part of my future. And the journey goes on…relentless…as life does, and who knows if Daniele and I will do something else together…because what we have done cannot be kept as a secret, we hope that many people will decide to leave with a backpack on their shoulders, ready to sacrifice and feel pain. What’s the result? You will find it out by yourselves…walking. “
Back to talking about myself, needless to say that the Journey to Santiago, unlike the Francigena, is much more organized, more signaled, safer and surely for everyone and much, much more. It gives you more emotions too, and I believe this comes from the human factor; many pilgrims are met and the locals are used to see people with their backpacks on and a shocked face due to the fatigue. They welcome you and respect you, mostly because, besides the big cities, the little villages would be desert without the pilgrims passing day by day at every hour. And there would be less money too. When I was walking on the Francigena I met many people anyway, each of them veterans of the journey to Santiago, each of them with their stories to tell about that magic and unique experience. I, though, was not unsure to be able to make it, that fear which comes from the unknown, that little bit of insecurity you feel because it’s the first time that you walk for 800 kilometers or more.
I didn’t live the Spanish journey like this, on the contrary I got there with many kilometers in my legs, I already knew everything about my body’s abilities; the first leg, for example, for many people is a hard test to pass, and for me it has been something like a pleasant stroll. I don’t know if this may give or take something to the experience about the journey to Santiago, but I felt the same fears and insecurities when I started my journey to Rome on the Francigena, most of all because I thought I would have encountered many problems along the way according to tales and stories found on the Internet. Instead with the GPS tracks and a list of hostels you can walk very easily in Italy too. Yes of course sometimes we have to deal with high prices and some trouble typically “made in Italy” but it’s worth it if you consider the wonderful territories, the ancient burgs and the cities full of art you may encounter along the way.
The Francigena still has to grow, but as it should be for everything, it needs people with skills who know what they are doing, less politics, less institutions and more pilgrims.
Personally I felt sad about not being able to walk through France, unfortunately the language was an obstacle, most of all when it came to find somewhere to sleep; after a couple of families on donation we couldn’t keep going in that direction and we have been forced to look for expensive B&Bs , youth hostels which close their bathrooms during the night and a monastery which asks 45 euros per night. And if I have to be honest in general we didn’t feel too much welcomed there.
After all this what’s left is the list of the people I want to thank. All the people I met along the road and in the places I visited, from the first walk on the Way of the Gods to everyone I met walking with Grazia . Everyone who read this little blog or commented my pictures on Instagram or anyway those who supported me but, most important, Grazia and her purpose. A special thanks to my friend Monica who is still helping me with this little experiment, with the English translation and who followed us since the very beginning.