Day 1 Via Francigena, Great Saint Bernard Pass to Aosta, 31km

Date: Wednesday 8 August
Distance to Rome: 31/1027km
Terrain: down-bloody-hill all the way
Overnight: La Belle Epoque,€48
Feeling: absolutely knackered!

20180807223729_IMG_2571_1Well, I can honestly say that I waaaaaaaay underestimated the via Francigena. I had heard about the Swiss alps and seen pictures of course, but I never knew the buggers were so big.

In my naivety I thought 30km in the crisp mountain air would be challenging, but doable. Ohh how wrong could I be?

20180808155835_IMG_2596_1I started walking just after 6 am and all-but crawled into Aosta at nearly 4.30 p.m. with absolutely nothing left in the tank and every muscle screaming blue murder.

A normal person would pay attention to the guide/map makers who recommend that this stage be split over two days, but me being the eternal optimist thought that one day would be fine.

Over the 10 hours I descended 1852 metres and my knees and leg muscles knew everyone of those metres intimately. It was a day to doubt my sanity, but when I took a moment to look up instead of where my feet were going, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. I could not believe the pockets of snow still nestled at the mountain tops and the lushness of the forests, the fields of cows and obligatory cowbells.

20180808164326_IMG_2597_1I also could not believe the amount of people out walking on the same path. People of all ages, young and old, all out for a hike. Obviously they breed them tough over here. One additional challenge is for me to know whether to greet them with ‘bonjour’ or ‘buon giorno’ as French and Italian are spoken equally in this part of Italy.

For a good part of the day the path followed an extensive water canal construction that provided irrigation water for the many farmers and their pastures. Even though Europeans are screaming about the drought it just seems to be endless water here in the north of Italy.

20180808171050_IMG_2601_1A memorable day for all the wrong, and quite a few right, reasons!

Tip of the day: buy yourself a good set of walking poles and bring them!!

34 thoughts on “Day 1 Via Francigena, Great Saint Bernard Pass to Aosta, 31km

  1. lue August 13, 2018 / 4:01 am

    OH Mel, my leg muscles are aching for you!! Sorry, I meant to Skype you before you were on your way, I was surprised to see that you are already walking. I am out of sync with the dates!! Your photos are stunning and good for you to get that first tough day done. Rooting for you ❤️


    • Life...One Big Adventure August 15, 2018 / 3:03 am

      Thanks Lue. You will be pleased to hear that things have improved dramatically! Resting up as we speak! Talk soon. Melx


  2. restlessjo August 13, 2018 / 4:05 am

    Poor you! But that scenery looks stunning 😃😃


  3. gracethepilgrim August 13, 2018 / 4:34 am

    Mel, I love the photos. Hoping you’ve had a good rest and some lovely food to re-fuel. Remember to listen to your body 🙂 Cheers, Grace


    • Life...One Big Adventure August 15, 2018 / 3:11 am

      Thanks for the advice. Just starting my first rest day, so that will give the ol’ body a chance to recover!


  4. My Dream Garden August 13, 2018 / 6:42 am

    Vivid and inspiring description Mel! I can feel your painful muscles back here in Mudgee! Jane


  5. Stubbs August 13, 2018 / 8:29 am

    Absolutely gorgeous! I can’t wait to see more! Have fun out there! 🙂


  6. Kerry August 13, 2018 / 8:37 am

    Oh wow Mel!! This is an amazing post on all levels. The photos are beautiful and your self discipline astonishing! But be careful and don’t get yourself injured. Part of me is very envious and part is in awe. Thinking of you daily xx


    • Life...One Big Adventure August 15, 2018 / 3:20 am

      Yes, doing my best to nurse body through and getting stronger every day. Thanks so much for the moral support. X


  7. Dilly Dally August 13, 2018 / 2:10 pm

    The scenery is fantastic Mel. Take it easy on those legs. They are one of your best assets! 😜


  8. Veronica August 13, 2018 / 10:03 pm

    Dear Mel finally you have started your new adventure and even if you are very tired I am convinced that the effort it will be erased from the meriviglia that surrounds you … I’m with you, you’re strong💞💟💞

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark Hoddinott August 14, 2018 / 12:33 pm



  10. wetanddustyroads August 28, 2021 / 10:17 pm

    Just looking at that first photo (which is beautiful by the way), I could absolutely sense “trouble” was coming! I’ve never used hiking poles, but start to think it might be of some help – especially with the downhill part.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure August 30, 2021 / 1:37 pm

      When I first bought walking poles (in preparation for the Camino Frances) and started using them, I thought they were damn fool things…until they saved my bacon on an almost daily basis. Believe me, walking poles are your best friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • wetanddustyroads August 30, 2021 / 2:55 pm

        I’m definitely going to invest in poles … with our last hike in the mountains, I’ve realised they would be handy!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Life...One Big Adventure August 30, 2021 / 3:28 pm

          When you buy them, check out some YouTube clips about how to set the up at the correct height. Of course it is important to do whatever is comfortable, but the rule of thumb is to have them at the height where your elbow is roughly 90degrees. Here endeth the lesson! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

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