We were privileged to meet Everyday Aussie Hero, Glenn Turner, as he made his way through Lunigiana on the pilgrim route, the Via Francigena, from Canterbury to Rome. It was Day 51 of his walk and we were delighted to join him in celebrating the completion of three-quarters of his journey. Glenn’s walk is in aid of medical research into diabetes, depression and dementia.
I can’t quite remember how I first came across Glenn’s blog, but I have been following his progress almost since he left England. His daily adventures pop up in my news stream, and although I had never made contact, it was just natural to offer whatever hospitality we could to someone making such an heroic effort.
Glenn’s arrival in Filetto was marked by a torrential downpour. Fortunately, Mr Ciao spotted him walking determinedly through the rain up from the Selva. It was mid afternoon and Glenn had already walked about 40 kilometres from the other side of the Cisa Pass. He didn’t quite look the same as his website photo. Since the beginning of his walk he has lost around 14 kilos of weight and downgraded to a much lighter backpack.
The skies cleared shortly after we returned to Malgrate, and after sorting out refreshments, ablutions and laundry, we fitted in a quick walk around Bagnone. Mr Ciao prepared a banquet fit for an Australian pilgrim, which was enjoyed on the terrace with friends and neighbours. Pop over to Glenn’s blog to find out more (entries for 14-16 June).
From Glenn, we learnt that the Via Francigena in Britain is a quagmire; many villages in France are completely deserted; the Via Francigena in Italy and Switzerland (unlike France) is well sign posted; that finding accommodation each night is pretty challenging, to the extent that Glenn starts out early in the morning to ensure that he has several hours at the end of each day to find a place to sleep – walking to the next town may be required; and the opening hours of shops, restaurants and post offices in Italy can cause chaos for the uninitiated. There were also some strange encounters with garden gnomes, but I forget the circumstances.
Glenn’s journey along the Via Francigena is a real inspiration. A normal bloke with an Aussie sense of humour doing the extraordinary to raise awareness of the rise of diabetes, depression and dementia in modern society. Follow his journey on his blog, and if you can, please make a donation, no matter how small.
Good luck with the rest of your walk Glenn! We really enjoyed meeting you.
An Australian Pilgrim in Lunigiana appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 17 June 2014.