Pilgrims share common experiences and become friends very easily.

At breakfast time at the hostel it was like we’d known each other for ages. I’d been awake since 5 am listening to the squawking seagulls outside .

My boots were starting to fall to bits and the inside lining was breaking up. I was going to throw them out

but the people in the hostel said that homeless people often knock on the door looking for help so perhaps they’ll find a new owner.

Here’s part of the collection of walking sticks that people leave behind .

We all prepared our backpacks for the last time.

There’s a nice rose garden in the convent grounds, a part of which now houses the hostel .

Here I am with a lady who’d ridden her bike down from near Brescia, one of the nuns from the convent and the young family from France. You can see who’s spent weeks out in the sun!

The French family spent 8 months walking to Rome from near the Belgian border . In France each evening they would knock on a door and people would put them up. This didn’t work in Italy so they would go to the local church and always got somewhere to stay that way.

In case you missed it in the last post, here’s a photo of their setup.

They’re heading back to France, by train I think .

After my wife Cathy arrived by train, we headed to the Vatican so I could pick up my testimonium or certificate of completion of my pilgrimage .

Last time after I had completed my walk along the Via Francigena , this was quite an adventure going past security, the Vatican Gendarmeria and the Swiss Guards. Roma – Città del Vaticano May 4th

Now it’s somewhat more prosaic and there’s a pilgrim office near the Vatican down a lane inhabited by a community of homeless people.

My credenziale isn’t as interesting as previous ones due to the lack of hostels with their interesting stamps and the preponderance of commercial stamps .

The last few days along the section in common with the Via Francigena were a bit different.

Here’s my testimonium.

We’ll spend a few days wandering around Rome before heading back to Bologna.