How Slow Can I Go?

The Way of Saint Francis, Assisi to Rome, italy

When we traveled as a family, my husband and I wanted to take our children to all the big attractions. We wanted them to “see all the sights” that travel had to offer.

We had busy days and full itineraries.

Rome, and a distant view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

When visiting Paris, we climbed the Eiffel Tower. We walked across the Tower Bridge in London. We saw Lenin’s Tomb in the heart of the Kremlin and we strolled through New York’s Central Park. We sat on the seats of the Coliseum in Rome, and we climbed the Washington Monument in Washington DC. 

But, as it is with age, things have changed.

The 900 year old remains of the courtyard of the church where Pope Innocent gave St. Francis his blessing.

The 900 year old remains of the courtyard of the church where Pope Innocent gave St. Francis his blessing.

It isn’t that I am no longer interested in sightseeing, it is just that I want to see other sights. I am finding that I am attracted to the areas less traveled, the less popular sights, the slower scenes. 

I don’t like waiting in line, and I like not being on a schedule. I am not interested in the latest “it” place to be and I don’t have a “Bucket List.” I can’t stand crowds, and I have no patience for large groups of tourists. As for fast food, well, that is what they serve in hell. 

When we last visited Rome, we visited the famous Piazza Navona.

When we last visited Rome, we visited the famous Piazza Navona.

Our Airbnb kitchen in Rieti. More vino please1

Our Airbnb kitchen in Rieti. More vino please1

While trekking The Way of Saint Francis, from Assisi to Rome, I asked myself, “when I travel, how slow can I go?” 

How can I savor every moment? 

Take one step at a time…

Take one step at a time…

It doesn’t get much slower than walking from destination to destination. Everything in-between, every move becomes part of the destination.  Every step is the journey. With every step you are simultaneously arriving at and leaving from your destination. With every step you are gaining and loosing your journey. 

Stop to enjoy the coffee, and the cup.

Stop to enjoy the coffee, and the cup.

Slow food and slow travel are under-rated. I am rewarded more by the less I spend. I do travel on a budget and I seek low cost lodging. I find no value in high-end travel, see-all tours, luxury accommodations, or itineraries crammed full of sight seeing destinations and Instagram bragging moments. 

IMG_0722.jpeg
Sitting in the shade of a 800+ year old beach tree that was said to have been visited by Saint Francis.

Sitting in the shade of a 800+ year old beach tree that was said to have been visited by Saint Francis.

Again, I find myself attempting to appreciate the “here and now.” “Don’t take anything for granted, because it will soon be over.” See the details in common everyday items. Hear more of the sounds in the environment. Feel the ground crunch beneath my feet. Taste every bite. Enjoy every drink. Live every moment and be thankful for the time and experience. 

A hill town church’s contemporary mural.

A hill town church’s contemporary mural.

Simplicity, immediacy, and gratitude. 

Night falls upon Arrone, Italy.

Night falls upon Arrone, Italy.

A working pay phone.

A working pay phone.

Assisi to Spello, Trevi, Spoleto, Ceseli, Arrone, Piediluco, Poggio Bustone, Rieti, Poggio San Lorenzo, Ponticelli, Monterotondo, Monte Sacro, and Roma. 

The yellow and blue trail marker showing us the way.

The yellow and blue trail marker showing us the way.

As I look back at the list of places we visited, it is staggering. But that is nothing compared to the experience of moving through the “spaces in-between.”

Now when I travel, “how slow can I go?”

The answer is “not slow enough.”

We made it from Assisi to the Vatican with everything in our backpack.

We made it from Assisi to the Vatican with everything in our backpack.

My stamped Pilgrim’s Credential.

My stamped Pilgrim’s Credential.