From Brento (Bologna) to Madonna Dei Fornelli (Bologna).
The previous night time slipped away far too quickly.
We felt the need to rest again but the roosters called our awakening and made us realize that it was time to leave again.
With extreme laziness we curled up and stretched like dormice just out of hibernation. The muscular pains didn't disappear, they were more present than ever, almost as if to remind us that we would have to work hard that day too.
With our eyes clouded by fatigue we slowly began to dismantle the tents, taking care not to stick our bows in our eyes (don't laugh, it was close).
I finished rather quickly so I took the opportunity to have breakfast with a delicious croissant and an energy bar, both of which were completely shattered by the enormous amount of items in my backpack. Then I prepared a regenerating and enveloping coffee.
Now we were ready to leave.
We tried somehow to wake up our joints but nothing, they just didn't want to contribute. Still, we didn't have many options but to go along with the pain and get back on track. So we did.
The group that morning was made up of Elena (Bolognese traveler inveterate known the night before) and Andrea and Simone (two Romans to whom just seeing them escaped a smile, in a positive sense of the mean). Their comedy did nothing but animate our days of good humor.
Therefore, with a smile always on our faces, we set off.
Me and Andrea on the streets of Brento
We made our way through the serpentine hairpin bends that followed from Brento while Andrea and Simone started the first Facebook live broadcast in which they gave an account of the previous night and proclaimed a good omen for the day ahead.
Only after a couple of kilometers we entered again in the middle of the woods, walking in paths surrounded by lush vegetation on both sides.
These passages were my favorite: far from civilization and immersed in the sounds of nature.
Me lost in nature
Here, by surprise and by stealth, we were joined by Altea: a young adventurer who was walking the trail for the second year, this time alone.
This is one of the aspects I liked most about the path: when you least expect it, new souls pop up and more often than not they join in to share the journey together.
This was, in fact, the case with Altea.
Photo taken by Altea shortly after meeting her – in the background me, Andrea and Simone pretending to orient ourselves on the map
The sounds and colors of nature in company immediately took on an even better flavor!
Welcome sign in Monzuno
Between ascents and descents in the middle of the forests interspersed with winding roads, we finally arrived in Monzuno, the first township of the day and the point that marked the halfway point of the second stage.
Here we were greeted by a lovely weekly market that crowded the main street of the village. It was a very pleasant sensation to be cheered on by the inhabitants of Monzuno, by now accustomed to seeing dozens and dozens of travelers pass by every day.
Monzuno weekly market
They clapped their hands at us and tried to make us believe that we weren't far from the finish line (we had learned, by then, to disdain such encouragement: most of the time they were just words thrown to the wind, because they weren't the ones who were struggling).
We laughed it off and took the opportunity to take a short regenerative break.
In the meantime, we met up with the travel companions that I had acquired the previous day; this is another aspect I love about Via degli Dei and walks in general: along the way there are always those who fall behind and those who continue on, but in the end we all meet up again when we least expect it. It was a wonderful surprise!
We dedicated a few minutes to introductions and then shared a few good, healthy laughs with each other.
Me, Andrea and Altea being incited by an inhabitant of Monzuno
Some of us took the opportunity to get our pilgrim credentials stamped while others wandered through the stalls. I chose to rest my shoulders from the still too heavy backpack and I relaxed the due in the pleasant company of some food, of course.
I forgot to mention that Andrea and Simone bothered the poor vendors in an attempt to sell them the ridiculous amount of medicine they had brought in their backpacks. Even their bags were shamefully heavy.
They tried hard, but came out the losers.
Discouraged, they decided it was time to leave: we stretched and, with discouraging slowness, stood up and resumed our march.
The beautiful hills of Bologna!
Leaving Monzuno behind, we slowly faded away from the "city" air and threw ourselves headlong into nature: among emerald green meadows and colorful hills.
Walking through the vegetation proved to be more relaxing than ever!
Remember, too, that part of the beauty of Via Degli Dei lies in the surprises it holds.
Marching through the green woods, in fact, we were intrigued by a sweet melody playing Pink Floyd. Like curious little mice we followed the musical notes and, furtively, we came out at the entrance of a wonderful eco-village.
Part of the beautiful ecovillage
Maracas, tambourines: from this image you can imagine the beauty and energy of that place!
For those who don't know, an ecovillage is a "community" where the inhabitants live in harmony with nature, trying to create a more sustainable and peaceful way of life. This was truly a paradise.
It was not by chance that we met Vagamondo right here! Yes, that's right, the crazy guy who traveled around the world without taking a single plane flight.
We couldn't disdain the inviting smell of the coconut and chocolate balls and the refreshing green tea prepared, of course, by the Progetto Meraki staff.
We let ourselves be hypnotized by the travels of Carlo Taglia (aka Vagamondo) and absorbed all the energy of that wonderful place surrounded by nature, to the tune of a noteworthy reggae playlist!
Listening to the stories of Vagamondo - from left: me, Simone, Matteo, Andrea, Claudia and Giuseppe
Our bodies would have really wanted to take root on the lawn of the ecovillage given our exhaustion, but that day was getting very long.
The number of breaks we took up to that point, in fact, had already exceeded the number of hours we had spent and it was time to get back on the road.
We continued under the scorching sun but still immersed in nature when we began to feel a certain languor in our stomachs.
We had to stop, this time out of necessity.
The beautiful paths we walked in the middle of nature
We looked at a splendid green space covered by trees and we thought it was the ideal place for a nice lunch. Menu of the day: rice and chickpeas! Believe me, I have never enjoyed those ingredients so much.
In the meantime we were preparing our starred lunch, Elena helped Andrea to hang out his shirts completely soaked with water because Simone (according to Andrea) had not closed the water bottle.
Me, Andrea and Simone preparing lunch
We enjoyed the food and the peace of nature, then we relaxed and Andrea took the opportunity to portray the moment with a painting.
Always the three of us while Andrea was painting
He used to paint watercolors on his travel notebook writing his thoughts: he said he started this practice some time ago so he could show the places he visited to his son once he was back home.
Andrea concentrated on painting
I found this gesture extremely cute!
Green meadows, flowers, hills: a paradise!
We resumed our walk after having taken a good half hour's nap; now we would have to go up and down the hills of Bologna with very satisfying views.
The march was really pleasant, walking under the shade of the vegetation gave us so much relief and motivation!
We passed silent woods alternating with a few farms and a few small houses scattered here and there. All the while I was telling myself how cool it would be to pitch my tent on top of one of those lush green hills.
Along the way we reached the top of the mountain we were traveling through, which was embellished with multiple wind turbines, and we took the opportunity to take yet another break and take a nice souvenir photo.
Close to the finish line! From left: me, Altea, Andrea, Simone and Elena
Yikes! Each time we forgot the terrible difficulty in starting again after stopping, but now nothing could frighten us anymore and we began the descent of the mountain. At that point, only a few miles separated us from our destination.
The last few miles were on dirt roads surrounded by green meadows and hay balls.
The beautiful landscapes that surrounded us along the way
Here, in fact, we met Matteo again! A traveler who shared the route with us for several stretches, who was enjoying a delicious snack in the middle of the quiet hills. How to blame him!
Matthew enjoying his snack on the hay ball
We stopped for a chat and made an appointment to meet at the campsite of Hotel Poli, the destination of the second stage.
In order to make the time pass more quickly and not to worry about fatigue, we started playing the animal game, which turned out to be an excellent method since the last kilometers slipped away very quickly!
Towards the goal of the second stage!
In the blink of an eye, in fact, we found ourselves in front of the sign “Madonna Dei Fornelli”: we had completed the second stage too!
A wonderful surprise awaited us upon our arrival: we passed by the local brewery and found several travelers we had met the day before.
We promised that we would pitch our tents in a hurry and then catch up with them.
Then, at the campsite, we saw more walkers and I was already looking forward to an unforgettable evening. I was really excited about it.
It took me a good handful of minutes to pitch and stabilize my tent: even though it was the second day, I still had trouble setting it up. But there was no hurry and slowly each of us joined the other travelers to share a refreshing and well-deserved beer in sweet company.
The atmosphere was joyful and we spent a good hour talking about this and that, enjoying the magic of the moment.
The thing I liked the most was the desire to socialize that was present in each of them; after the lockdown period we experienced I had an immense desire to absorb again the energy and the smiles of the people. I felt extremely present and it was beautiful.
Sharing beers with newfound wayfarers!
I didn't know it yet but the night was still going to be long and I had no idea what would happen next.
We took turns taking a hot shower in thealbergo Policampsite. A magnificent welcome, where we had the opportunity to pitch our tents in a dedicated garden and use all the sanitary facilities at no cost. A real pearl of Via degli Dei!
Scented (so to speak) and regenerated, almost all of the travelers decided to pamper themselves with a delicious typical meal at the restaurant; I opted for the cheapest option and once again relied on the practical bags of Knorr rice (just kidding, mine were from "IperCoop" because they were less expensive).
Cooking my classic risotto in a bag
I was looking forward to a silent dinner alone when once again I had proof that on a trip you are never, and I mean never, alone.
Claudia e Giuseppe popped up and had the same idea as me and joined my dinner: they too had risotto in a bag (from Alìper, however, because it was even cheaper), I already liked them!
While I was badly burning my meal with fake saffron, we took the opportunity to get to know each other better and it was a lot of fun! The guys made me die laughing and we managed to find a lot of common interests, above all the extreme desire to always travel and adventure!
They even managed to cook a risotto that was more disgusting than mine, but at that point dinner had taken a back seat and it didn't matter.
We fantasized about the sights of the world and I told them about my previous travels as the other travelers slowly began to return to the campsite.
I find it so beautiful how extreme strangers can connect with each other so quickly in a limited amount of time. At first everyone is nice and friendly, then you get into confidence and the situation degenerates (in a good way of course).
In fact, the scene when they arrived looked like this: Andrea and Simone in charge of popping blisters out of Anna and Chiara's feet. It was hilarious.
On the other hand, on the other side, we were laughing and joking around talking about more and less. Now we were about fifteen and the atmosphere was rich.
Do you remember the sign I carried? You may not have forgotten it. It was time to share herbal teas under the stars!
It was quite cool that night being at an altitude of eight hundred meters, so the occasion was perfect!
Being able to prepare hot teas for everyone was an extremely joyful and satisfying moment for me. We prepared liters of water and enjoyed our drinks under a wonderful starry sky.
Preparing herbal teas I discover that the gas canister has run out!
That was the second day but I was already in love with the trip and the emotions. It was exactly what I needed after a difficult lockdown period.
It was special, magically special. Time stopped and we continued to sip herbal tea indefinitely, chatting and smiling at each other like there was no tomorrow. The tiredness faded.
These are questions that I often ask myself when I travel and to which I never find an answer, but I'm fine with that.
I believe in synchronicity and therefore I think that there is always a specific reason why two or more people meet. I like to think so! And the fact that we were accomplishing the same task helped us to connect much more quickly.
The almost full team – we shared herbal teas all together and it was one of the most magical nights!
As far as I was concerned, we could have put our lives on hold and continued sipping herbal tea all night long, but another tough stage awaited us the next day, so we bitterly assessed that it was time to go and rest.
We cleared the table of the teabags we had consumed, wished each other a good night and made an appointment for the next morning. Ready for another stage.
With the last remaining energy in my body, I put the stove and the lighter in my backpack, then I gently slipped into my sleeping bag and let myself be pampered by the sounds of nature and the mountain breeze.
I said goodnight to me with a smile from ear to ear and expressed gratitude for life and the day I had lived, knowing that the best was yet to come!
Want to follow the story of the next stages of Via Degli Dei?
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