I continued my walk, enchanted by so much beauty, until I met a lady who was holding her grandson’s hand as she came out of her house that sat along the path. We smiled at each other. She spoke first.
“Hello, and where do you come from?” the lady asked me, a little surprised and badly concealing her strong Tuscan accent.
“Hello! I left from Passo della Cisa, in the Lunigiana, where the Tuscan stretch of the via Francigena begins,” I answered, smiling at the child, who was shyly hiding behind his grandmother’s skirt.
“Wow, that’s quite a distance! You’re tired, I imagine…. have you eaten?” she asks with that worried air that Italian grandmothers have when they come across someone who hasn’t eaten. “Meal time was a while ago,” she says as she taps her finger on the small face of her watch.
“No, I haven’t had lunch yet,” and I feel my stomach growl at the thought of a warm meal.
“Come then, come to my house. I have polenta with wild boar. Would you like some?”
“Thank you mam,” I smile. “It must be delicious and that’s awfully kind of you,” I appreciate her hospitality but I wanted to get to Santa Maria in Chianni for lunch and enjoy the open air. “But don’t worry, I have two enormous sandwiches in my backpack.”
“Ok then, go on,” she replies, smiling. “Make sure you eat! Don’t forget! Have a great day!”
“Goodbye mam! Ciao buddy!” I smiled again at the child, who waved his small hand at me as he watched my walk away.
I was finally able to exchange a few words with someone as if I would never meet them again. I continue my walk with my heart filled with happiness, accompanied by a long row of cypresses that flank the path.