24th June 1901: Soldiering On

By sleeping at Lucca during the day and continuing his journey at night, Belloc resumed what had been his original intention to make his a night time pilgrimage to Rome

Belloc slept badly last night.

I discovered this great truth: that if in a southern summer you do not rest in the day the night will seem intolerably warm, but that, if you rest in the day, you will find coolness and energy at evening.

Hilaire Belloc The Path to Rome (Ignatius Press 2003) p.382

And today does not see an improvement in his desire to keep writing an account of his pilgrimage.

The next morning with daylight I continued the road to Lucca, and of that also I will say nothing.

The Path to Rome, p.382

Belloc knows the awkwardness of his position, for he has LECTOR ask ‘Why on earth did you write this book?’ (The Path to Rome, p.382). Of course, AUCTOR – Belloc – has an answer; and it is a suitably Bellocian – contrary – one: ‘For my amusement’ (Ibid).

The above notwithstanding, Belloc does share some details of today’s walk. He passed a town called Decimo. There, and in the surrounding region, he saw towers with numerous arches. He entered Lucca, which he found to be ‘the neatest, the regularest, the exactest, the most fly-in-amber little town in the world’ (The Path to Rome, p.385).

It was another extremely hot day, and rather than try and brave it out, like he did yesterday, Belloc checked into a hotel until evening. Of course, it was an unusual request to book a room just for the day, but happily, the hotelier was happy to accommodate him. Belloc ate ‘such a meal as men give to beloved friends returned from wars’ (The Path to Rome, p.386). And that’s a lovely, and very grand, turn-of-phrase to describe what is just a big meal!

It’s also as close as we get to anything resembling the idea of friendship in today’s entry. Belloc left the hotel in the evening and does not record meeting anyone along the way.

The villages were silent, the moon soon left the sky, and the stars could not show through the fog, which deepened in the hours after midnight.

The Path to Rome, p.388

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