Santiago Part 8 Ponferrada to Villa Franca

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Ponferrada to Villa Franca Del Bierzo say that 10 times!

Today is a fairly easy day walking as far as the Camino goes.  Most of the day is through vineyards and along easy tracks underfoot.  The maximum change in elevation over the day is about 70 meters to Villafranca del Bierzo and only  23.3km.

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We left before sunrise thru the city streets, but then had lamp lighting for the most part.

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After 2.7 km you make a stop in Compostilla, which is essentially a suburb of Ponferrada which became a coal mining company town during the 1960’s. However you will pass a new small church which has been built on the site of a medieval hermitage; the Nuestra Senora del Refugio is painted with pilgrim iconography that of course includes Santiago as a pilgrim. Here they had a very nice credential stamp.

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In another 5.7 km we arrived to fuenta Nueva where we could finally get some breakfast. There was quiet a meting of old friends here as well. Rebecca from the UK we had not seen for quite a while.

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It was a very foggy morning walking thru farm lowlands and several small villages.

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This Italian guy had rigged up a carry cart for his back pack.

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This church was very proactive. They were outside offering credential stamps and asking you to visit inside.

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Making wine the hard way!

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Nearing Villafrance we again entered the vineyards and their rolling hills.

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“Villafranca is another town that developed as the result of its position on the Camino Frances.  Alfonso VI created a settlement here for Francos traders and brought Cluniac monks to Spain and settled them at strategic points along the Camino including Villafranca.  By the mid 12th century half the inhabitants were foreigners, hence the name Villafranca – “Foreigners Town”.”

“The Osorio family owned and ruled Villafranca until the Catholic Monarchs installed the first Marquis in 1486, the second Marquis built the castle. However the development of Villafranca suffered its first setback when plague ravaged the town in 1589; floods destroyed much of the town in 1715, and in 1808 it was sacked by the French who were pushed out by the English who then went on to wreck the castle and in their fury they despoiled the churches and municipal building; this was eventually stopped only by the General having the leaders of the destruction shot. In 1822 Villafranca became part of an independent Bierzo region separate from Leon, this only lasted two years. Today it is a pleasant peaceful town with picturesque streets and squares that is an ideal place to stop for a rest day.”

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We ate burgers on the main square for lunch and saved our “bread, meat, and cheese”  for a picnic dinner.

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