Unfaithful

After a nearly 3 year passionate and intense love affair with Italy, (which continues to this day), I am being disloyal and this year heading for her big sister, Spain!

wrong-way

I have spent the last 2 years or so learning about the walk to Santiago de Compostela, (Camino de Santiago), in Galicia, the north west of Spain. The region Galicia is named by the Romans for the Celtic tribes that inhabited this land prior to them conquering them.  The name Santiago is a form of Latin for St James and Compostela is field of stars. ‘Camino’ is Spanish for way, road or path, and the walk to Santiago is often referred to as ‘The Way’ or as ‘The Camino’.

camino

Santiago de Compostela is where, it is said, the remains lay of St James, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and the patron saint of Spain. There is a convoluted story of how that came to be. It could have been fabricated as the towns and churches of the times all competed for prestige by claiming religious relics. If they didn’t have them sometimes there was travelling to foreign shores to pinch them. It really doesn’t matter though, with the intention and belief being all that matters.

st-james

Early pilgrims, recorded from the 9th century, set off from their home, wherever that may be, and walked to Santiago. By the 1100s huge numbers were making their way from further afield including over the Pyrenees in France and even as far as England.

In 2014 200,000 people walked enough of the way, (100km), to gain official recognition:

The compostela is a certificate of completion of the Camino de Santiago, and is issued to you by the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela. There are two types of certificate: one is in Latin, and is issued to pilgrims who declare that they did the camino for religious or spiritual purposes. Your name will also be written in Latin. The second certificate is for those who did it for cultural or historical purposes. This one is written in Spanish. Both are testament that you have done the Camino de Santiago. http://www.theroadtosantiago.com/getting-your-compostelapilgrims-mass.html

santiago-compostela

There are still many Italian connections for an Italophile to not feel too bad. Romans were drawn to this area for it’s gold mines, the Atlantic ocean coastline and fertile soil. Horrendous battles took place to subdue the original Celtic inhabitants. By the 3rd century AD Galicia was a part of the Roman empire. Where Santiago now stands was once a Roman burial site, and, one of the most common pilgrimage routes follows early Roman trade road. There are some spectacular roman bridges through the Galician region still in use and a tower or two and a city wall.

The intact Roman walls of Lugo in Galicia, Spain.

muralla-lugo-galicia

The earlier Celtic occupation of Galicia in the first thousand years BC, is still evident in the music, note the bagpipes (gaita),sound in this track.

So come May, I will set off to walk 112km where Romans have walked before me, along with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. Exciting. But not Italy. I shall see how it goes and my blog will reflect my experiences.

Whenever I go anywhere but Italy for a vacation, I always feel vaguely disappointed, as if I have made a mistake.

— Erica Jong

12 thoughts on “Unfaithful

  1. I love that you will be doing the Camino, Andrea. Isn’t it amazing that people used to walk everywhere? Saints and pilgrims walking the earth. Saint Francis walked all around central Italy, and spent a lot of time in Le Marche.
    Even here in New Zealand, in more recent times, before their church was built, the devout Bohemians from Puhoi walked once a year to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland to get their new babies baptised.
    You learn a lot about yourself on foot. And you can go very far.

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    1. Thanks Ann Marie, I like the story about the Bohemians, that would’ve been quite a way! Yes, I’m happy to be doing it too. I’m doing training walks now, join me sometime if you like. 🙂

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    1. yep, i investigated walking Santiago to Fisterra but the mileages were too long for me each day, (there was no old lady with knees and feet probbies options) so Sarria it is. I think my walk averages 10-12km a day.Biggest day 18km. A walk in the park for you but for me a bit scary. 🙂 I will try to get out to the sea on the bus when i’ve finished. I follow your blog avidly, thanks for your amazing posts.

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  2. I just love the Erica Jong quote and have used it myself!

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy tramping along the Camino enormously. I have not done it but hear from others that it’s a great journey and the camaraderie is a high point.

    You know there are some Caminos in Italy as well. A friend in Abruzzo is involved in the Camino San Tomasso which goes roughly from somewhere outside Rome, to the church of San Tomasso is Ortona in Southern Abruzzo. It passes by her town of Manoppello where she runs a BnB and cooking courses.

    Giulia’s involvement is through cooking for ‘i pellegrini’. Manoppello has a holy site so is a stop along the way. Contact Giulia Scappaticcio at
    http://www.casalecenturione.it/page/contatti.
    She’s a multilingual dynamo.

    Also, Here is a site in Italian that is run by Rita Salvatore (who also speaks excellent English) that has to do with all things Abruzzo SLOW, hence the title AbruzzoLENTO. Great way to bone up on your Italian. Buon lavoro!

    https://abruzzolento.com/

    A presto!

    Mary Louise Tucker

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  3. Thanks Mary Louise, I was aware of the Italian camino and in fact seriously investigated walking the Siena to Viterbo section of the via Francigena in 2015 but ended up put off by a few factors. Apparently walking in Italy is not so well signposted and dogs and cinghiale (am i spelling this right, wild boar) are also common sights. These all scare the pants off me…I would love to walk in Italy at some stage, maybe the walk of the Gods on the Amalfi might be less scary for me. 🙂 Thank you so much for the links to the BnB and the slow Abruzzo lady. Incidently have you met the lady that writes the Tea for the Teacher blog based in Sulmona? I very much enjoyed reading your posts about this town.

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