|Clck per allargare|
Today starts downhill. The first few kilometres are on the asphalt road which was built over the ancient tratturo. I’d rather walk on dirt roads but, but there are no alternatives. On the other hand, asphalt allows a faster step. The air is cool this morning and there are no cars, so it is acceptable on the whole.
Along the way I encounter the remains of an old bridge crossing a small stream. The road descends to torrent Fiumarella, and this is where the asphalt road can be left since the tratturo starts. The path is steep but clean. After an initial climb, I reach the road which zigzags Duronia. Despite the early hour, a wine grower is taking care of his vineyard.
- Good morning!
I stop for a quick chat - an excuse for a rest. I complain that, unlike other years, I have yet found no blackberries, figs, or pears as yet... nor any of those fruits which summer walkers go looking for.
The man tells me:
- All plants are ripening late, you won’t find anything.
- Of course - I say - plants are suffering because of this heat.
The look he gives me reveals he has realized he is dealing with a ‘city dweller’, who knows nothing about the countryside.
- No, the damage was done by winter frost, which ‘burned’ everything. Winter was particularly harsh in this area. But... what are you doing here carrying a backpack?
- I'm trying to walk the tratturo!
He compliments me and apologizes for the poor state of the tratturo.
- However, if it gets too bad, you can carry on on the road.
I feel he is exaggerating since the path has so far been relatively clean compared to many other stages. I set off again but right after a new intersection with the asphalt road, a sign indicating the tratturo decidedly points towards a... bramble jungle. I begin to understand what the man meant and I'm ready to continue on the road, when I notice that the route I had set on my GPS indicates a different junction with the tratturo. I try the alternative solution and... no way, I'm on farmland... Let me give it another go. The route points towards an area where vegetation grows tall: come off it, stop kidding me! And yet, that is the right way. After the first few meters, during which I am completely surrounded by vegetation, the path becomes distinguishable and, above all, bramble-free.
I continue my climb avoiding the asphalt road up to Duronia, where I refill my water-bag at a well and sit in a bar to have breakfast: I want to pamper myself today... this is my second one. I rest for a while, while listening to the people. The dialect is different compared to yesterday. I can detect traces of dialects from Apulia, Abruzzo and Lazio.
On leaving the village a pleasant view of the valley can be admired from a small hill. On the left I can see Bagnoli del Trigno, the village where my previous experience had ended. The Celano-Foggia tratturo must then run along the hills I'm facing now. I can almost see it, but it's probably just wishful thinking. So many memories!
Corrado, drop all sentimentalism and get back to the tratturo signs. Another dead end. All signs just seem to point travellers toward the brambles. I have to retrace my steps and take the asphalt road. I'm repeatedly overtaken by joggers. How can the local public administration force its own fellow citizens to run along the main road, when it would take so little to keep the tratturo clean?
After more than one kilometre, at the first bend, I see a path going downhill: as usual, overgrown, but it is walkable, so I’m happy to leave the asphalt immediately. The situation improves as I go on. I have entered an area where farm vehicles help keep the passage clear. The rest of the day is spent on dirt roads.
The path climbs slightly, between the two towns of Molise and Torella del Sannio, then the tratturo becomes clearly visible once again, and starts descending towards Castropignano. The heat does not slacken off today either but the final stretch is on dirt roads and downhill, so the arrival in Castropignano is a smooth walk.
The owner of the apartment where I will spend the night is the only one willing to take guests for one night only (finding her was no easy task), but is gearing up to offer further accommodation possibilities. The small village has really beautiful views to offer and if better enhanced, could actually attract tourism. The presence of the tratturo might help too. The landlady tells me about the little museum on farming culture she is creating: her enthusiasm shows how important the project is to her. She is very happy that someone has decided to open a pizzeria in the village, so there is a place where tourists can eat.
About the pizzeria... I ask for directions:
- So, take your car...
- No, look, I have no car.
- But it's a long way, you need to find a lift...
I check the distance to the pizzeria: it’s about 700 meters from the centre! I am amazed to realize how my perception of distance has changed over the years. Once upon a time I would have driven, now for 700 meters it wouldn’t even cross my mind!
On my way to the pizzeria, a terrace offers a glimpse of the tratturo on the route I have planned for tomorrow. I admire the view for a while, before hunger has the best of me.