Thursday, December 17, 2015


December 16th…..I have been home for almost two months from the day I walked into Rome
along the Via Francigena.  Two months….two days….two lifetimes…..the concept of time  muddled just as it was after completing the Camino Frances last year.
And, as last year, the draw to don my backpack and wander off onto yet another pilgrim path pulls.

Yet, for now, I know am where I am meant to be.  Holidays and family are ever present….a gift in themselves.  A gift I have, for several years, either missed completely or raced through, trying to do everything everywhere..  This year I am blessed with time to slow down and savor the in the now.  

This Christmas has been a time of lessons for me….a time of contemplating where our hearts are safe and secure - where our souls are fed…. the love of family and friends.  Christmas season prompts us to remember that the giving of resources, as valuable and necessary as it is in a world where many are without, is only a part of what we have to share. The giving of ourselves….our time sharing a mug of coffee with an elderly relative, taking a winter walk with a friend we have not seen….sitting and watching a silly Christmas movie with the kids- all phones OFF - these are our greatest gifts to give.   

So for now my backpack rests in its corner.  The time will come again….the energy pull of the trail will draw me back….but not just yet. Right now it is time to focus on those closest and most important to my heart, because two days become two months become two lifetimes
in a blink of an eye and this year….. I choose home.

KATE - Walking Woman

Thursday, October 29, 2015

WHAT I MISS.......

4 AM......I have been home a week and  already I am aware of what I miss when I am not out walking and why it calls to me:

...The weight of my pack first thing in the morning, that appendage which becomes a physical part of my being.....if missing I am off balance

...Early morning, laying in bed, stretches....moments convincing the body it does in fact want to rise and walk a new day.... See new sights....take in the smells of the earth

....Bells, tolling in symphony or clanging in simplicity.....I miss the bells...I will always miss the bells

....The  smell of wet earth...turned fields, moss covered rock walls along the path...musty, rich earth

.... A glass of chilled Tuscan wine at the end of a long hard day...soothing ....earned

.... The thrill and deep sense of gratitude for an extra pillow on the bed

.... A violet butterfly circling as I walk, tempting me to ask " Who are you? What do you want me to see?"

.... Plates of steaming pasta....simple, no elegant sauces or presentations.....fresh vine ripened tomato and basil; rich thick cream with chunks of crispy ham; pasta tossed in infused garlic oil......simple, basic...filling

....Monitoring the sun to gage time... testing my abilities against a worn beaten Timex

... Dodging the rain under the protection of an olive grove..... Dining on wild boar sausage bites and tangy wedges of Parmesan as the cloudburst passes

... Boots off, toes airing mid day, in the shadows of a medieval villa or castle fortress

....Quiet......walking in  quiet..... deep in thought...time passing yet totally still....Altered dimensions

I walk to discover....places, people, culture at the very core and essence of a land.  I walk and I discover more of me....each and every time.  I find more of the woman I am and was meant to be.
I walk to share with those who cannot and, hopefully, tempt those who can to do the same.
I walk because I am meant to walk.

~~  Author
Award Winning Bestseller  ' A Camino of the Soul: Learning to Listen When the Universe Whispers'

Sunday, October 18, 2015


 How very odd it seems to feel so calm.
Tomorrow I will walk into St. Peter's Square at the Vatican and receive my testimonium....the certificate authenticating I have walked at least 100 kilometers To Rome. From Lucca to Rome, having missed five days of walking due to a fall, I can claim 300 kilometers.
Last year at this same time I was three days away from walking into Santiago de Compostela after having completed an 800 kilometer walk.  The excitement was palpable.  I felt the overwhelming joy of the completion at odds with the Solemnity of the trek coming to a close.....almost a mourning. Today, a year later, I am aware of the great gift of being able to do what I have learned to love: carry a pack on my back and walk......Take in the sights and sounds of experiencing countryside and cultures unfamiliar to me....and share with friends and family some of this amazing world through photos and words. I feel calm, thankful.....blessed.

This time my walk encompasses fewer kilometers, yet feels to have been much tougher in many ways. Certainly the fall resulting in what I am sure is a mild crack in the rib has not helped......five days of walking were lost to healing time.
 Perhaps the Via Francigena feels tougher as the infrastructure of the Camino Frances, the portion of the Camino de Santiago I walked, is not yet in place.   Villages are spread at greater distances; vendors offering fresh fruit or cold drinks for an inexpensive price, or even donotivo, are non existent.  Locals seem to have a more blasé  attitude.  Walkers are few and far between in most instances.  The first seven days of this trek I saw only five other pelligrini ( pilgrims).  The most I have seen in a day is the twelve I saw day outside of Rome. Many days I saw none.  It is a far more lonely existence.

Tomorrow however, into Rome! St. Peter's Square will be crowded, as always.  The sights of the Vatican will take my breath away, as they did two years ago.....and this time I will be arriving as I have planned to do for months.....on foot, with my pack and a prayer of thanks for all I have been given.   Okay, just got a shiver.......the excitement is bubbling!

 ~~~~  Author  Award Winning Bestseller  ' A Camino of the Soul: Learning to Listen When the Universe Whispers"

Monday, October 12, 2015


Hi all!   My path alongside Via Francigena has certainly not been as I had planned!  One week in and I land flat in the mud after a LONG day of rain and muck!  
Ha! Fancy that.....the Universe steps in and plans change.....methods of transport change.....yet, it all falls into a  Beautiful patchwork and the experience remains amazing, unique and transformative.

As " Walking Woman" (  I have been tracking my experience in blog and photos for friends, family and other walkers on many different FB pages.  Once back to the States in late October I Will buckle down and write the manuscript I have been prepping regarding my time, and growth, along the Camino Santiago de Compostela in the fall of 2014. "Soul Trek" will be published in 2016.
But for now, for those who have asked about accommodations on this current trek, I am sharing the following......esp. For you Sheila Niemi :-)

Lucca........   B&B Centro Passi Dalle Mura....reasonable, just outside city gate along the VF

Altopascio... Hotel Astoria......tired, basic.....along the VF as you leave Altopascio

San Miniato (Basso)...... Albergue Elio...... Too tired to care :-).  Probably a tad expensive.....

Gambassi Termi...Ostello Sigiric ( Santa Maria d Chiani). ..... Lovely! Private room and bath, rate was reasonable....tour of church after dinner was brilliant

San Gimignano.....Hostel Aladina.....more a B&B.... Right near exit gates on VF....reasonable.....

Strove......    Relais Castel Bigozzi.... ha!!!!! No, I did not book here but was " gifted" this room by Casalita, in town, which I had booked.  They were closed for the night I needed and made arrangements for me up the hill at this amazing hotel for the same rate!  Impressed!!!!!!

Monteriggioni......B&B in Piazza.   Wonderful experience although too expensive. Frederica was the consummate hostess......a wet and windy day in Monteriggioni was lovely!

Sienna.......two nights......Porta Piscini Hotel ( apt. With a kitchen) great value, easy access to the old town .....this hotel,sits just outside the city gates and by following the main road in front of the hotel I was on the VF easily.

Ponte d Arbia........Affittacamere Martelli.   Hostess Chantel, was wonderful.  Stayed here for two nights as coming into town was the day I fell.   Amazing history in this town!   Reasonable rates, extra service....I was her first American guest!  :-)

Colonnata/Cassette......B&B la Cava di Terzo.....three nights in the Carrara region....taking it easy. Exceptional service!!!!  NOT on the VF direct path, BUT, since I was sidelined for a few days, was a wonderful experience.

Zepponami/Montefiascone....B&B Pepe Rosso.......hostess Anastaya was a Delight. NOT on the VF, but, again, a cost effective room with access to a shared kitchen for a couple of nights. Also, not a true B&B

Montefalcione.......Hotel Lombardi.....on the VF just outside city gates coming into old town.....rates reasonable....location superb

And now......time for lunch and tomorrow, onward and upward to Viterbo!

Thursday, October 8, 2015


I have always believed that there is good to come from most any diversity. It may take a hell of a lot of reflection....searching....stomping of the feet and flailing of the hands, but in time, it usually shows itself when we are receptive.

As my walk on the Via Francigena is on temporary hold as I rest the ribs from Sunday's fall, my travels have brought me to the hamlet of Colonnata in the Italian Apuan Alps.
Colonatta sits at the base of some of the finest of Carrara's marble mounts.
Dated to 60 BC, this hamlet has always been home to quarry workers.   First the slaves of the Romans when they began hauling marble columns from these hills.... Now to the workers who fill orders for Carrara marble around the world.
While most visitors to the area will stay in Carrara, the idea of being high in the hills In a forgotten hamlet of 600 inhabitants intrigued me.  

Greeted at the rail station in Massa by my host, Mario, we drove up steep narrow  winding roads....our horn honking at each curve to warn oncoming drivers of our presence. Hills the vibrant greens of the  Hawaiian Islands surrounded me as we climbed into the grey misty clouds. Once at the B&B Mario and his team served me a luncheon of perfectly grilled steak and chilled white wine before  I was even asked for a passport! Wonderfully civilized!

Colonnata, along with being at the base of the quarries Michelangelo favored, is renowned for its Lardo d Colonnata.  A type of saumi made of rosemary seasoned pig fat, Lardo is ranked as one of the fine delicacies of the world.The fat, once seasoned, is cured in Carraran marble containers. Pigs raised on the acorns and chestnuts prolific  in the area, produce the finest in this silky white gastronomic delight.

Once I have sampled some this evening I will let you know ;-)

Most remarkable, however, is that while wandering the edge of town...getting in  slow easy walk ...I noticed the red and white striped markers of the Via Francigena.  Nowhere on my maps had I seen routes through this area.  Now, after some research, I have learned that my fall on the VIa Francigena  just outside Ponte d Arbia  has brought me to a most remarkable crossing of the Francigena Apuan.   And so, although I will not walk this stretch, I still feel connected to the Via Francigena as I wait out the sore ribs.

Tonight Lardo d Colonnata.......tomorrow?  We shall see!

B&B Cava di Terzo in Colonnata

Monday, October 5, 2015

Under the Tuscan mud.......

As I review yesterday it occurs to me that perhaps, just perhaps, that grimey  2 km. I slogged through wet, gooey field mud is what zapped my energy. Face it...2 kilo of wet clay mud, per boot, had to have been the final culprit of a long tough day!  And, at the final 4 km before arriving in Ponte d' Arbia, I manage to catch my boot and down I go......slow motion.....saw the ground coming up....all the while praying I don't land on my face. End result: bruised ribs far too tender for backpacking for a few days.  Egads, what a day!

Torrential downpours  outside of Siena, complete with thunder and lightening...
".Oh great " I am thinking as I march along with metal poles in hand, a lightening rod at the ready....
Left the upcoming field path a mucky yucky mess!  It was a day that waterproof pants ( although donned too late) and ponchos were made for! And then......sun.

Momentary bursts of warm sunlight  kept the chill away and shone the Tuscan hills verdant shades of green and blue .  Glorious, beautiful colors in a vast open countryside. I am in the middle of a land inhabited by few.  Aliens could land, swoop me up and be gone in a one the wiser.
And then  grey rolls in again......raindrops threaten..... and the deluge begins. Rains reminiscent of my days on the Adriatic in the town of Rovinj Croatia........water falling from the skies as if poured by bucketloads dowsing a fire..... This was yesterday's trek.

And, as with all adventures, plans change.  As the fall has me moving ever so gently today, I will be bussing for the next couple of days......resting, seeing the countryside from a different perspective......making sure that I can continue this marvelous trek, on foot, into Rome in two weeks time!

Stay tuned......I know something wonderful awaits!

Saturday, October 3, 2015


“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. ” – Anatole France

In the wandering, the most magical moments occur when strangers connect, if even for the briefest of exchanges. Yesterday while I was sitting along side a dirt road ...used primarily by local hunters it seemed....resting my worn feet, a beat up blue- toned Land Rover Defender jeep rolled to a stop. An elderly gentleman, worn face and hands, one tooth hanging from his upper gum line, rolled down a dusty window to chat.  With extremely limited Italian on my part,and no English on his,we had a grand conversation on who I was, and why I was in Italy.

As he obviously lived close to the Via Francigena road he knew a pelligrini when he saw one, but seemed much more intent to believe that, really,  I had to be in Italy for the food. Obviously, as he motioned hand to mouth with many statements of  " Buon mangiere ", he was  quite  proud of Italian cooking.  Everyone must be here for the cooking!  

We then managed to determine where I would be sleeping that night..... How far I would walk.  Somewhere in the exchange I understood his wife was from, and children now live in, the same town I was planning to call home for the night....just outside a tiny hamlet called Stove. His snag gle grin was glorious in recognition that I would be in a town which was near and dear to his heart.

15 minutes during a three week walk...a brief moment in time. 15 minutes to share, warm human connections.  How I wish I had his photo.  He is, however, an emblem on my heart for that day!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Odd how time flies when I am on the trail. Last year this same occurrence...this year a promise to myself to recognize the fleeting passage of time and ensure that I take moments to document what I see I feel.....and yet again, time flies away without words on the page.

I am in ancient walled city south of San Gimignano.....the heart of Tuscany.   Compact is a good adjective for Monteriggioni....two main gates into town...see it all in 30 minutes tops!   For me, today, it is a Perfect resting place on a grey and rainy day.

What have I noticed on this trek so far?  Signage is extremely well done. The Italians have grasped the importance of this route for tourism...that has become clear.  So much to be done, but it is evident that there is a strong Via Francigena society paying attention to what this route has to offer the economy. Although a "new" industry ( which actually dates back some 1500 years), progress is showing. I had dinner the other night with a Pellegrini ( pilgrim) from Rome...a banker.... Who said Italy has only wrapped her arms around this Via Francigena route as a business some ten years is in its infancy!   Certain areas I have walked are definitely more attuned to the pilgrim mentality. Here in Monteriggioni, where I am currently parked on my bed with a bottle of local vernaccia wine, the pilgrim "business" is recognized and supported.  

Sites are amazing ...Really? You ask.   YES! I am in the heart of is astounding in beauty.  Every book you have read, every coffee table picture catelog you might have flipped through in some moment of is here...and real.  Spectacular Mother Nature! There is a reason " Under the Tuscan Sun" gets rented time and again..... And it is not just the love story :-)

The trail itself? Lonely.   Until today I have met five other Pellagrini.....5 in 7 days!  This is NOT the Camino de Santiago.  Since arriving in Monteriggioni I have watched at least 6 more  come into town.  We are is a quiet presence.

And now, at 4:30 pm, it is siesta time for me.  I promise to try and gather the fleeting moments.....take time and write more faithfully......because, in the end, these moments.......seconds in time.....will be my rocking chair memories with grand babes on my knee.  And I will want them to know there is an amazing world out there.....history they will only ever see when they "walk".

Ciao' for now.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Day One......

Day One:
What incredible weather to begin this long awaited trek!  Brilliant blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds .....just a touch of breeze..... as I headed out, a tad later than I had planned, to make the 20 km. Walk.  Last night's sunset was truly magnificent....early evening light tinged the surrounding hills a golden hue, skies opening pink with splashes of bronze as the sun set over Lucca.  An omen to the lovely day ahead!

Today not one fellow pilgrim in sight, which I semi expected, but I  still feel a bit surprised at that reality. It was a day of  kilometers of tarmac making for extra tired feet.  A highlight  came shortly upon leaving the outskirts of Lucca at the small local church of Ste Michele.  Two women and a chatty local gentleman made sure to inform me that I could stamp my passport right there outside the Chiesa doors.  Pleased to be chatting, I told them where I was headed and  that I had walked the Camino Santiago de Compostele last year ( they were impressed.) One of the woman, a locale who now lives in New York, gave me I an English speaker to translate. Perfect!

Magic moment of the day:  walking into Altopascio I spotted the local priest, rosary in hand, taking an outdoor fresh air break on the steps of famed San Jacabo Chiesa.  Seeing my backpack, he smiled as I passed. Later this evening, in  search of my timbre ( stamp) for my pilgrim passport from this town, I wandered down to the church and caught him just before locking the doors.  Holding my passport, just forward enough he would see it, he smiled in recognition and asked " Timbre?" He guided me back to the rectory where he asked where I was traveling and stamped my passport.
A warm smile and " Buon viaggio" sent me on my way into the evening light.

Tomorrow, San Miniato......if I decide to go that far.....we shall hurrying!

Monday, September 21, 2015

.....And I am OFF!

It is September 21st.  This pilgrimage to Rome is has been for a very many months.  That it is now here...the flight date is tomorrow almost shocking.  Exhilarating, a tad nerve wracking....I know  I am ready to go and yet because energies seem to be buzzing at a higher frequency than normal I find myself wondering what changes this trek will bring....who will I be when it is complete?

That I walked the 500 mile Camino Frances gives me pause to remember  that I can do this.  That I knew at the completion of the walk I was  meant to wander pilgrimage paths, offers emotional assurance in the adventure.  The switchback trails and boulder crossings of Patagonia assure me I am physically ready....

For whatever the next weeks on the Via Francigena  bring my way, I say a deeply felt " thank you" to the Universe!

                                                         MY CAMINO PRAYER
   Because I believe the Universe conspires in our benefit.....because I believe Angels are actively involved in our daily life and offer amazing insight if we listen and watch.....because I believe in the beauty of each day and know we have the opportunity to choose our thoughts and state of mind.....I see this glorious day begin to unfold and know in my soul these travels will be safe, inspiring, a chance, once again, to behold the magnificence of this planet we call home.....and I feel blessed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book proposal submitted!

Within days of completing the Camino Santiago de Compostela last fall, I KNEW I was to walk and write.....just keep long distance walking and writing.  Interesting enough, emails from Hay House Publications started pinging my in-box at the completion of my Camino.  Hay House, publishers to Wayne Dyer, Mike Dooley, Gregg Braden, Anita Moorjani ( to name a few), was offering a contest for new authors.  Coincidence? Hmmm, I don't think so!

So, I signed up for the March Chicago session. Two days of education on the publishing world, along with writing hints and tales from the incomparable Mike Dooley, assured me I was on the right track.

If you have followed along on my blog, you know that in February I took off for the next walking adventure--- Patagonia, a land that had intrigued me since I was a young teen.  Although not a long distance pilgrimage walk akin to the 500 mile Camino, these hikes in Chile and Argentina took me to granite mountain faces and had me scrambling boulders.... a totally new and exhilarating experience. What it also did was solidify my soul knowledge that somehow walking and writing were to be my next life chapter.

Today, September 17, after three months of in depth writing, story development, editing.... the whole shi-bang....I have submitted my manuscript proposal for the Hay House contest. With a blessing, it was sent off and now I will simply wait for the notification that I have indeed won. Isn't that how it works when we let the Universe take over....when we follow our soul knowledge and do what is meant? :-)

During the next month while Hay House editors sift through the entries,
the next adventure occurs!   Off to Italy and the Via Francigena this coming week.....


Thursday, August 27, 2015


And so, my next pilgrimage is soon to begin.  This year I will walk into the Holy city of Rome in October, almost a year to the date I arrived in Santiago de Conpostela!  Although my current plan calls for a shorter trek, it will certainly be a challenging adventure as 1) I am starting this walk alone 2) Although limited, my Spanish vocabulary far  out weighed  my current Italian .....Bring on DuoLingo!..... And 3) Well, the Via Francigena offers a far different infrastructure from the Camino of last year......

My flight to Rome will leave home, Seattle, on the 22nd of September arriving around 9 AM the next day.  I'll collect my trusty  back pack and head for the traíns, north to Lucca.  Once in this famous walked city I'll lay low the rest of the day, and the  next, letting my body adjust and soaking in the remarkable history of this 2000 year old hilltop town!  September 25th I am Off!

As some  of you have asked, here is a short history of the VF as snagged from Wikipedia:

The Via Francigena [ˈviːa franˈtʃiːdʒena] is the common name of an ancient road and pilgrim route running from France to Rome, though it is usually considered to have its starting point much further away, in the English cathedral city of Canterbury. As such, the route passes through EnglandFranceSwitzerland and Italy. The route was known in Italy as the "Via Francigena" ("the road that comes from France") or the "Via Romea Francigena" ("the road to Rome that comes from France").[1] In mediaeval times it was an important road and pilgrimageroute for those wishing to visit the Holy See and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul.

        History of the pilgrimage to RomeEdit

        Sign showing the path near Ivrea, Piedmont, Italy.
        In the Middle Ages, Via Francigena was the major pilgrimage route to Rome from the north. The route was first documented as the "Lombard Way", and was first called the Iter Francorum (the "Frankish Route") in the Itinerarium sancti Willibaldi of 725, a record of the travels of Willibaldbishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria. It was "Via Francigena-Francisca" in Italy and Burgundy, the "Chemin des Anglois" in the Frankish Kingdom (after the evangelisation of England in 607) and also the "Chemin Romieux", the road to Rome.[citation needed]
        The name Via Francigena is first mentioned in the Actum Clusio, a parchment of 876 in the Abbey of San Salvatore al Monte Amiata (Tuscany).[2]
        At the end of the 10th century Sigeric the Serious, the Archbishop of Canterbury, used the Via Francigena to and from Rome in order to receive his pallium;[3] he recorded his route and his stops on the return journey,[4] but nothing in the document suggests that the route was then new.

        Friday, August 21, 2015

                                           ...... harsh burning summer light sinks to the sea, cooling ....
                                    blue taffeta waters sparkle lavender as lingering beams of light explode
                                                    .........   splashing galaxies into the heavens......
                         Shooting crystal stars ignite indigo night draped across the horizon
                                                                             as  I Sleep
                                                          breathing gentle winds of a new dawn