Hiking along the Italian farmland and vineyards | Day 1 of Via Francigena from Aosta to Chatillon
Our first day of Via Francigena started quite late at 11am in the morning. Because before we stayed for several days in the campsite in Aosta and we got lazy and a bit disorganized as it happens always when you stop at one place for some time. We needed to have a break from our previous hike Tour de Mont Blanc to restore our powers. And so, it took time to gather all our things together and we hoped to get into the hiking routine back soon.
We decided to do the Via Francigena because we really wanted to explore more of Italy and also we needed some easier trail to take in between our challenging mountain hikes. And as it was passing very close to where we were at the moment we decided to go for it.
We planned to do some parts of this pilgrim trail and skip some bad stages on the car roads or in the cities if there would be any by taking public transport, the same as we did with the Camino. And doing it this way allows us to enjoy more natural beautiful places and take our time with it. We wanted to get to the Mediterranean seacoast then and do a Cinque Terre hiking that everyone recommends and say it is a must hike in Italy. After that we planned to continue the Via Francigena hiking in Tuscany that is also believed to be one of the most beautiful parts of this trail.
But let’s get back to our day. It was expected to be very sunny and hot right from the start and it came true during the day. The air was very hot and stuffy too and it was hard to breathe. So we decided that we are going to start all our next days as early as possible and finish the trail till 12am. Also on the weather forecast it was said that it can be thunder storming later in the day but we knew that it was hard to predict so hoped to be at the place at that time.
So we planned to do around 20 kms from Quart in Aosta to Chatillon as we knew it is our golden mean when we don’t feel too exhausted but at the same time accomplished.
The trail was going quite flat all the first part just passing through the villages and little towns. There were still a lot of big snowcapped mountains around us and the landscapes were quite dramatic. We couldn’t get over of the beautiful Alps mountains that we got to discover recently and were happy to be around them still.
Most of the trail was going quite easy mostly on the pavement routes and sometimes on the dirt farm roads. The marking was quite good, only at first we lost the trail but then luckily found it. The marks were sticked to the metal city lights and it was better in the villages. But out of them we could always find other local trails marking that were going in the same direction so it was fine. Just sometimes we used GPS to be completely sure of the right path.
Along the way we saw lots of vineyards here and there as well as many gardens with lots of fruit growing in them. So we made a conclusion that the people there are very dedicated to their land and this kind of labor.
We surprisingly didn’t meet any pilgrims or backpackers at all that day and we already were thinking of how unpopular this trail probably is but one case assured us that there are other people walking it. One señor when we passed close to his house in a small village called us and asked to leave a small note and put our names in his book for pilgrims. And there we saw the today’s date and left note from some other people. So now we knew that this trail are doing other people too and probably we will meet them during the next days. Also we are sure that the pilgrim passport do exist just like in Camino we just don’t care much about it. But to have it like a souvenir and for the memory purpose can be fine.
Closer to the end of the day the path started to go up and down more and swirl along the hills. We were already quite exhausted mostly from the heat and the sun so decided to take an easier and quicker route to the town Chatillon. The wind began to blow fiercely in our faces and we were battling hard with it the last couple of kms.
When we got to the town we were afraid that the rain can start any minute so we rushed to the supermarket to buy some fresh fruit and veggies as always. Then we had a little snack with focaccia bread and yogurts and left to search for some camp spot.
After wandering for some time we already saw that the area is not that easy with a steep mountains and hills and lots of private fields where it is always a good chance that somebody can disturb you. So we had nothing to do but to head to the camping site that was in 2 kms more from Chatillon in village Saint Vicent. It was called Paradise Camping and the name was promising to be very expensive. When we got close to it we noticed that it was very quiet and had no people at all. There was a mature couple that met us and said that the campsite is still closed until the end of the week and that it’s not very well adapted to the tents. But as an exception he would let us stay for one night. That was really kind of him and we were so grateful that we found a place for tonight. So we set it all up quickly, had our dinner and went to sleep.