Gowanda/Cattaraugus priest’s Italy trek underway

Father Joe begins the 341-mile Way of St. Francis. He began the hike on Aug. 3.

Gowanda’s Father Joe Porpiglia’s first week of his trek across Italy went very well, though he said it was hot he seemed to have a lot of fun.

On day one he started out in Florence and ended in Pontassieve; it was a 14-mile hike of mostly flat land. “I loved the sanctuary (light) in the church in Pontassieve,” Father Joe posted on St. Joseph’s Facebook page. “it has been hot couple of days. My Fitbit says I have done over 200 flights of stairs in the last couple of days!”

He enjoyed a respite in Stia and then continued on to day two where a more rugged route greeted him, though he did get to pass by some older homes on his hike.

“The trail goes right by peoples’ homes in the woods. Today there was a lot of climbing, my Fitbit told me 257 flights of stairs, I guess that computes with 3300 feet of elevation. The iron cross that has been there (since the) early 1900s, and beautiful chapels along the way,” he said.

Later in the day he stopped to have lunch in the piazza in front of an old church. The bells rang at noon, catching him off guard, but he really enjoyed seeing the small village and the residents there.

Day three took him on a steep hike to Camaldoli, “started with a beautiful visit to the Benedictine monastery at Camaldoli,” he started, “steep hikes up and down the Poggio (mountain) it was great until the rain, hail and (lightning) made the last few miles a little more challenging.”

Father Joe spent that evening in Bradia Prataglia where he visited a church with crypts dating back to the 10th century. The rain slowed him down later on his way out, so he took a couple of buses to make up some time. Despite that set back he still put in a healthy 6.5-miles and arrived in Della Verna.

To follow along with Father Joe as he embarks on the Way of St. Francis, please visit St. Joseph’s Facebook page at facebook.com/stjosephchurchgowanda or St. Mary’s at facebook.com/St-Marys-Church-Cattaraugus-NY-1448422812136892