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Pilgrims of León: Anna from Italy

(#POL) A couple of days ago we had a nice chat with Anna from Italy, who was passing through León on her journey to Santiago de Compostela. Read the interview below!


When did you get the idea of doing the Camino ?

– My dad did the Camino 6 years ago and I saw that it really changed him. He used to be a very nervous person but after his Camino experience he calmed down a lot. Even now, 6 years later I can still see the impact of El Camino.

How do you think you will change after doing the Camino?

– I live in a very small city in Italy, a city where everyone knows each other and everyone is a little like "zombies". I don’t like my city, I like the mountains in South Tirol but I don’t like the city. I don’t feel motivated there. I hope to come home being a different person after my Camino. I am surely going to cry when I arrive in Santiago. I will be glad that I made it. 

How much preparation did you do? 

– I am actually a lazy person. I don’t think that I prepared a lot. I just did some running once a week. But I think I am becoming physically stronger by walking the Camino. The beginning was the hardest part because I had to walk 32 km instead of 20 km because the Albergue in the village was closed. One of the first days I actually got injured, my knee was hurting a lot but in Burgos I bought some cream and it helped. Maybe this injury happened because I didn’t prepare so much. Some of the people that I have met really took the preparation seriously, a Korean guy told me he walked 10 km every day for the last three years. He also walked very fast. 

What has surprised you the most while doing the Camino? 

– Well, I read a lot before starting to walk the Camino so I knew what to expect. I am mostly surprised by myself, that I am still alive.

Why did you choose to walk in this period of the year (February)?

I like to be on my own. I like the fact that it is a lot more quiet to do the Camino in February or March. Also I am moving to Berlin to study a master after this summer and I think I am going to use the summer months to search for housing and everything in Berlin. 

How is your experience with the locals in the little villages? 

– The people are definitely used to seeing pilgrims and they are very sweet. They all say "Hola", "Buen Camino". I think they like seeing pilgrims passing through their village. 

How much do you engage/talk with other pilgrims?

– I have been walking with pilgrims from Korea, Sweden, Spain, Germany… I enjoy walking together better than walking alone, and it also motivates me to keep walking. When I walk alone I tend to take more breaks. Also, it helps me forget that I am tired or that I have pain.

I guess while talking to other pilgrims the question: “Why do you walk the Camino” is asked a lot? What are other people’s motivations? 

– Yes indeed. There are a lot of different reasons. A Spanish man told me he was going through a very difficult time in his life. He said he was crying when he started walking, but now after walking a couple of days he was smiling. It was like therapy. Another men was very religious but I don’t think a lot of people have religion as the main motivation. 

Are you walking alone? Do you ever get lonely? 

– I like to be alone and I think everyone should walk the Camino alone. I mean, I think a lot of good can also come from walking the Camino together, but more in the sense that you will get to know each other better. When walking alone, you can totally focus on yourself and the benefits of that are huge to me. 

How safe is it to walk the Camino alone?

– I almost got killed 3 times. No, just kidding, it's very safe. It’s not that I have to walk in the middle of the night in big cities. It is just small villages. The most dangerous thing probably is the fact that you have to walk close to trucks sometimes. But even once in a while the trucks and cars would honk just to say hi so that was very nice. 

When you walk, do you listen to music or audiobooks? 

– When I am walking a difficult stage, it definitely helps listening to music. 

Did you have days where you just didn’t feel like walking? 

– Yes of course, I had days when I didn’t feel like waking up at 6:00 but after 2 hours I am happy that I woke up and that I am walking. I mean I didn’t come here to sleep. 

What do you regret not packing? 

– My dad told me not to bring a sleeping bag, so I only have an emergency blanket and a sheet. 2 times I had to sleep without a blanket because the Albergue didn’t provide them. That was very hard but it is part of the experience. And maybe if I had packed the sleeping bag, I might have regretted it, because of the extra weight. 

What do you regret packing?

– I think I could have brought less clothes. I definitely want to come back again in the summer to see how it is, now a lot of bars are still closed, especially on Sundays and Mondays. If I come back in the summer I will bring less clothes. Now my backpack weighs 9 kg.


We thank Anna for an interesting conversation and wish her "Buen Camino". Tomorrow she continues from León following Camino Francés to Santiago de Compostela. Read more about all the Caminos and find your own way.