Pilgrims’ Progress

PilgrimsProgress1.jpgWe’ve spent a lot of the time at Lake Como walking. It’s ironic that when you use public transport, you seem to end up walking a lot. But over and above that, we picked up details of routes from the brilliant tourist information office in Menaggio and just walked for the sake of walking. Well, we did it once, to be precise, for two or three hours, in the hills above Lenno and Ossuccio.

PilgrimsProgress4.jpgFor a walk like that, it’s obviously important to start early, before the day gets too warm. Unfortunately, however, we didn’t get up in time to do that. So we started at about eleven, thereby ensuring that:

  • the entire walk was conducted in the hottest part of the day, and
  • we finished the walk when all the shops selling cold drinks were shut.

PilgrimsProgress2.jpgIn our defence, I must point out that the time quoted for the duration of the walk (about an hour less than it took us) is, in my view, realistic only if you happen to be called Paula Radcliffe. 

The walk took us on a winding route with fourteen shrines built along it, each about fifty to a hundred metres higher up than the one before.  Every shrine contained a religious scene, with large sculpted wooden figures. So this was a sort of pilgrims’ way.

PilgrimsProgress3.jpgIt was strange to see religious shrines so close to residential housing, especially as the route between them wasn’t always immediately obvious. I imagined a pilgrim knocking on somebody’s front door to enquire as to the whereabouts of shrine eleven and receiving a very unchristian reply (on account of him being the fifth person to knock with the same question that day).

PilgrimsProgress5.jpgWe carried on up to the last shrine, then on to the Santuario della Vergine del Soccorso, where we were glad to find a sign reading ‘Abbey and Trattoria’. Breakfast was a distant memory, a culinary event in a previous existence.  We sat down to lunch knowing we’d earned it – as pilgrims we’d made pretty good progress.