March to Athens
Day 76-II, Frattocchie to Velletri. 22 km.
Velletri, January 22
We were happy to lift our tents early from the parking lot in Frattocchie and move. We had two alternatives. One was to go straight over the new Via Appia, and the other was to pass through the hills.
Most of us, me included, we took the hills. I colli albani. There’s nothing left here to testify, but this used to be an ancient nation, older than Rome itself. According to legend, the ancestors of Romulus the legendary founder of Rome ruled over these hills as kings. Now it’s a natural park where the pope has his holiday home.
In the middle there’s a lake which seems to be a big crater. We stop for a panoramic view and to have a snack. For me this is only the second day, but some people here have been on the road for two and a half months. As long as the entire March on Brussels. And they’re not even half way.
Compared to the Brussels march, this one doesn’t have the same political or revolutionary meaning. We don’t hold many popular assemblies, and we don’t have a real goal, aside from going to Athens, ‘for democracy’. It’s a survival march, and we are nomads emigrating to the South in the dead of winter.
We walk only about twenty kilometres per day, but with gear it’s more than enough. It’s just about as hard as thirty kilometres without.
Other than in France, the people in the villages are not ashamed to ask you who you are, where you are from and where you are going. This way we do some diffusion. We reap a lot of goodwill, but little more than that.
For our daily meals we cannot rely only on popular support. So we practice ‘recycling’. This means that certain squads of ‘hunters’ go out to local bakkeries, pizzerias, fruit stores etc. to recuperate food that would otherwise be thrown away. Other rich hunting grounds are the dumpsters of the supermarkets. You can find sacks full of perfectly edible vegetables in between the trash. Enough to make a big pan of soup for forty hungry walkers on a fire barrel in the parking lot.
“The days are never the same,” our comrade from Finland says, “that’s what I like about this march.”
We descend on the small town of Velletri. We’re lucky, today there is a procession in honour of Sant’Antonio Abate. At nightfall, a drum band marches through the old streets, followed by horses and cavaliers in medieval outfit, holding torches.
Rome is a watershed. When you go South of her, things start to change. This is a first taste of it.
We spend the night in a splendid country villa. It has been inherited by one of our comrades from the Popular Assembly of Rome, and she was glad to open her doors for the march. So truly, every day is different. But that is just about as exciting as it is exhausting…