Started the day with mixed emotions having spent the previous evening on the outskirts of Aulla at the delightful ''Agriturismo Selva''.
It was a lovely final evening with wifey making the journey out to spend the evening with me. Valetina and her family run a lovely BnB here with most of the foods sourced on the farm.
From here it was a relatively quick ride into Sarzana, where I had my last morning coffee and pastry of the trip whilst admiring the views of the main square.
From Sarzana its a brief ride to the base of the hill that Fosdinovo adorns. The final 8 km is ALL uphill and includes 7 switchbacks (hairpins) and 73 bends in total. After riding 1,640 km you couldn't script it that the last 8 km would be a brutal climb.
After 1,640 km the turn off to Fosdinovo finally appears and now it's 8 km to the top
That is the top of the climb....up there.......
Another 7 switchbacks to negotiate. Whoever said this last leg was going to be easy?
The very last Via Francigena signpost of the entire trip. About 350 meters from the finish.
The ''finish line''
The finish. Clever wifey had a banner made, and the local community had bandied together to produce their own banner too. In addition they had printed and distributed throughout the village numerous posters alerting villagers to my imminent arrival which you can see to the left of the photo above. And in addition to all of that the community had ensured the main newspaper of the region had been told about my trip with my story commanding a half page spread.
Those eagle eyed of you will notice they got the numbers of my age right...just in the wrong order. 25 instead of 52. I will happily take that!
In all about 30-40 people turned out to greet me which was incredibly touching and they clapped and cheered as I crossed the ''line''. In addition a buffet had been laid out with complimentary drinks for all. Even the weather obliged with the ride up the hill done under a smattering of cloud, a cooling wind and brilliant sunshine. 4 hours later the village was hit by a thunderstorm.
It was a day of mixed emotions for sure and there is plenty to write about, and A LOT of thanks be made to various people and all which I will do tonight and tomorrow and publish over the course of the next few days. Of course, I love a statistic too, and expect to be bowled over by some of the numbers from the trip.
I just wanted to get this out there that YES, I had finished and what a finish it was!!!!
p.s. Donations. If you were waiting to to see if I actually made it before donating then wait no more! Having witnessed the gratitude of the local community, let alone that of the other two charities I know that raising money for these worthwhile causes has been worth every heartbeat I expended on the trip.