It was a beautiful morning in Poggio Bustone and as we walked leaving the town two self-reflections surfaced in my mind:
The first was about extreme kindness of many people expressed to us as pilgrims. I was on the trail only three days, but each day several locals would ask us if we need some directions or help. We walked by a small farm the owner of which was harvesting his vegetables. He came to the road and gave a nice “bunch” of fresh and super-tasty lettuce. In some places where we stayed, the owners gave us significant discounts: special price for pilgrims. Overall, one simply feels by the skin people’s appreciation of the pilgrims walking St. Francis trail. The second self-reflection was about perception of landscape and country when walking for hours and even days as compared to driving (even when taking country roads) or biking. There is something captivating when one can enjoy slowly “evolving” panorama of another hilltop town.
The highlight of the day were few hours spent at the so called Santuario Francescano de Madonna della Foresta
The legend says that late in his life and being quite ill, St. Francis needed rest and stayed at the nearby church of St. Fabiano for 50 days. But he was already a very popular person then and large crowds of people gathered and “camped” nearby consuming nearly entire year’s crop of grapes of the local farmers. The local peasants, seeing that their livelihood was nearly destroyed, approached St. Francis and asked him to do something. According to legend, he asked them to bring all remaining grapes to the wine press at the church. To their astonishment, after pressing these grapes yielded double the juice as compared to previous crops. This became known as the Miracle of the Wine and San Fabiano became a Franciscan convent called La Foresta – the guesthouse. We did not stay there but had a long picnic with nice wine. My toast was inspired by St. Francis miracle and, simultaneously, by the well known fact that in the years when grapes give more juice (say after rain), the quality of wine is typically lower. So, I said: “Let’s drink to double miracle: having as much as possible juice from the small amount of grapes without loosing in quality of wine.” Back on the road to town of Rieti.