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Pilegrimsleden: St. Olav’s Way with Roberto Montella

An ancient track in the footsteps of a warrior who became king, saint and legend.

The passionate and ironic voice of an expert pilgrim who talks about his days of walking in Norway.

From Oslo, over 650 km of endless lakes and forests, further and further away, up to the Trondheim fjord and Stiklestad, the North Finisterre.

A story for those who dream of adventurous travels and a guide for those who choose to leave. With the altimeters and the possibility of free access to the digital cartography of the route.

Roberto Montella mapped St. Olav’s Way in a guide that is also a travel diary.
He teaches math, but he couldn’t live without writing. Especially since he started walking, and it has never stopped.

Norway is a distant land and perhaps not very popular within Italian walkers. Were you afraid of leaving for such a different territory? Are there really more difficulties in walking in Norway than in Italy or Spain?

Everything we don’t know scares us. It’s natural. But it also intrigues us. It teases and fascinates us. After walking from Canterbury to Santa Maria di Leuca what should I fear? I left full of prospects and emotions and I was not disappointed. Norway is a powerful world, rich in nature and respect for the environment, vast, with enchanting, unsettling landscapes, where loneliness takes on a dimension of complete abandonment, and nevertheless offers all the attention to the pilgrimage that is in Spain and in Italy with excellent signage, comfortable accommodation, clean paths, warm welcome. Consider that the average age of pilgrims who travel the way of Saint Olav is much higher than those who go to Santiago: this shows that there are no particular difficulties.

6,650 kilometers, from Oslo to Trondheim: tell us one of the many peculiarities of the journey

The most obvious aspect is certainly linked to time: in summer the sun rises at 4 am and sets almost 11 pm, a good nineteen hours of light! At first I was upset, I couldn’t sleep well, I didn’t understand if the day was ending or not. I remember that on the first day, unintentionally, I walked for almost forty kilometers, simply moved by the illusion of an eternal day. I must admit that it was alienating but I learned to exploit this “latitudinal curiosity” as an advantage: with so many hours available I was able to dilute the time even more, take advantage of the breaks to stop, rest during the day, savor the slowness like an even greater gift to manage.

Write in the book that in a stage of the journey, on a sign you found the words: take what you need, leave what you don’t. But what do you really need to leave, besides some few material things?

The sentence was written on a box in Hamar’s Pilegrimssenter, where travelers could leave slippers, towels, sweaters, hats, medicines, socks and even a sleeping bag. Anyone could take, if necessary, or contribute to the next traveler. I find it beautiful. I always say that, before leaving, every pilgrim must make sure to bring with him: the predisposition to get lost that I have already spoken; the mystery, which serves to unearth the wonder at every step; and, finally, a great pain, necessary to understand the good fortune of existing, here and now. Only those who welcome life with these characteristics can understand the spiritual condition with which one lives on the way.

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    We are an indipendent publisher based in Milan, born in 1994 as a monthly street paper dealing with social information. Now we publish 70 books per year. Our interests explore many and various worlds, from sustainable tourism to the discover of different cultures, encouraging their coexistence. We love telling stories, the hidden ones as well as the colorful ones for young and adults readers, and spread creativity through sustainable handmade creations with our craft books.
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