Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I had to do it

I had to take drastic action. Calculating the distances along my planned route from Barcelona to Rome, and looking at my options for lodging, I see no choice but to ask for financial help for this trip. I wish I were independently wealthy. I also wish I were 6 feet tall and good-looking. We have to play the hand we're dealt. Kickstarter.com, here I come.

There is a traditional pilgrimage route to Rome from Canterbury Cathedral in England known as the Via Francigena. It leads the pilgrim through England, France, Switzerland, and finally into Italy and on to Rome. My own pilgrimage from Barcelona will join this route at Vercelli, Italy.

If you're read the rest of this blog, you know that I made the pilgrimage to Santiago from Montserrat, and then walked on to the Atlantic Ocean at Finisterre two years ago. The Camino de Santiago is traversed by tens of thousands of people each year, through many towns that virtually owe their existence to pilgrim traffic. Every town along the most common routes has at least one inexpensive refuge where pilgrims can stay the night for, normally between 5 and 10 Euros. Typically there are kitchens where pilgrims can prepare and share inexpensive meals each night, one might even find special prices for pilgrims at cafes along the way.

In contrast, for my next pilgrimage I'll be walking from Barcelona to Arles, France where I will pick up a seldom used off-shoot of the Via Francigena to Vercelli, Italy. At Vercelli, I'll join the traditional route that begins in England. The number of people who walk the Via Francigena from Canterbury number around 1,000 in a year. Those who start at Arles probably number in the tens each year.

And no one starts in Barcelona. I'll be walking over 1,270 kilometers, about 800 miles to Vercelli, completely solo without the benefit of inexpensive albergues (refuges). I have a tent and will try to find lodging in monasteries and churches along the way, but there will be many nights I won't have the option of free or inexpensive lodging. There will be no kitchens to prepare food bought at grocery stores - I'll have to rely on restaurants and cafes most of the time. Even when I get to the traditional Via Francigena route in Vercelli, all my research tells me that inexpensive lodging and/or the ability to camp is rare.

So here I am, hat in hand, asking for a little help. I'm not wealthy, but I'll find a way. I'm drawn to this pilgrimage and feel confident that a very good book will result from it.

Please come along, enjoy the story, and if you're so inclined, please check out the Kickstarter project above. For donations of $25 or more I'll send a book after it's published in October. If I can't find a publisher, I'll self-publish on CreateSpace, so there's no question that it will indeed be printed.

Thank you.