En Route to Santiago de Compostela

In the solitude of the journey, enjoying the beauty of nature, the memory of a visit to the Cavazza Institute and the meeting of many blind children and the intention to share a project that would allow them to make their own journey.
Lorenzo Bruni

It is 5:30 a.m. Silently I get out of the bunk bed in the hostel and leave the dormitory I shared with other pilgrims. After only a week of travelling, I have learned to enjoy a restful sleep despite the squeaking of the cots, the nocturnal movement of those who cannot fall asleep and the loud snoring of those who sleep far too deeply. I rinse my face with cold water and put on my hiking shoes, fill my rucksack carefully but quickly, always careful not to make the slightest noise, then, grabbing my two walking sticks, I go out into the dark countryside. I enjoy the fresh air as I breathe deeply and focus on the invigorating sensation of the morning breeze on my bare arms. I watch the stars that still adorn the sky before dawn and begin to walk, listening to the rhythmic pacing of my steps alternating with the ticking of aluminum sticks.


Youths rejoicing at the end of the journey - Santiago de Compostela

I review in my mind the adventure I want to accomplish: to reach Santiago de Compostela by walking the more than 800 km of paths that make up the Camino del Norte and the Camino Primitivo, starting from the northern border between France and Spain. I still don’t know that once I reach my destination I will continue the journey, walking more than 2,000 km along the hills, countryside and ocean coasts of Spain and Portugal, following the English Way, the Way of the Lighthouses, the Portuguese Way and the Finisterre Way. I still don’t know that I will spend a week on the beaches of Galicia learning to surf, watching unforgettable sunsets lying on a board in the middle of the ocean, and that I will work for ten days on a Spanish farm in exchange for board and lodging, looking after donkeys and horses.


Immersed in the sensations that the walk offers me, I am not aware of the passage of time: The sun is high in the sky and I decide to rest in the shade of the branches of a large tree facing the panorama that opens up before me. I don’t generally use the phone during the day, but I decide to answer a message from Luca.


I met Luca in Faenza, a few weeks earlier, while I was helping with the cleaning of streets and houses after the terrible flood that brought the entire city to its knees. During those days, Luca tells me about him and his work: he oversees the administration at the Istituto dei Ciechi Francesco Cavazza, based in Bologna. Shortly before I leave for my journey, he takes me on a tour of the premises, accompanying me through the corridors and rooms of the Institute: it is a world I do not know; I am amazed and fascinated by it.


Lorenzo Bruni jumps for joy along the route - Santiago de Compostela

In the shade of the tree, responding to Luca’s message, a thought crosses my mind: these blind youth he told me about will never see the beauty I am contemplating on my journey. Those colours, those shades, that blue sky merging with the blue ocean, they don’t know what it is. It is not fair. What can I do for these young people? How can I help them on their path? I pick up my mobile phone and text Luca: “I am going to start a fundraiser for the Institution where you work.” The idea is impulsive but determined, and Luca is immediately enthusiastic about it. In collaboration with Luca and with the President’s approval, we begin to implement the ideas to bring the project to life. It will take two weeks of comparing and organizing before we can begin raising funds; in the meantime, I keep walking. Once the publicity material has been printed and the automatic email system for receiving donations has been activated, I will share the project along the way with the closest people I know. Upon my return to Italy, the President of the Institute will personally ask me to write an article recounting my adventure. Grateful for the emotions this journey has brought me, I wish everyone a good journey!


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