This posting has been named for one building that I almost missed. You’ll see why it deserves the special treatment.
Be careful coming out of Itero de la Vega. If you turn left instead of right at the bridge, after a couple of kilometres you’ll find a very official looking marker indicating that you are indeed on the Camino. It’s only when you realise that the town you’re coming to unexpectedly looks too much like Itero de la Vega…
This is something that only happens in the quiet months when there is no stream of pilgrims in front, making the way obvious. It can happen, and it can bugger your day. (Please, no cheesy talk about the journey being the destination and so on. It’s true, but when you can still see the town you left two hours before, you don’t want to hear that stuff.)
So hang right at the bridge. New roadwork has affected waymarking, but keep going.
After wasting the fine morning, I encountered bad weather. Then worse weather. The rest of the day was spent with head bowed before icy rain that was trying to be sleet.
Canal walking is usually a pleasure for me, and the approach to Fromista is along the ambitious Canal de Castilla, which was an hydraulic engineering marvel of the late eighteenth century, and made such places as Fromista important hubs of the wheat trade. Rail transport soon made it obsolete for shifting wheat, but no canal is obolete to me.
I don’t have a single photo of the canal or the approach to Fromista, so foul was the weather.
That evening I was able to get a snap of the interesting portal of San Pedro.
And inside my pension – because inside was the place to be – an old plan of the Camino in Palencia caught my eye. I’d love a print of this.
Under the early Castilian rulers, Fromista grew to be one quarter Jewish. After the wars with Islam, repopulation was a priority, and Jews brought wealth and trade, as well as numbers. When Their Catholic Majesties, far away in Madrid, preferred dogma over trade and tolerance, the town lost more than its Jewish population, it lost much of its wealth.
When I left Fromista, it was so cold I had trouble walking on the icy film that still covered the streets mid-morning. I had to pause in a square just to get my balance. Then I saw it. As you, pilgrim, need to see it. And please excuse the inadequacy of my squeezy little Fuji Finepix, and the drab light.
The purest eleventh century Romanesque, the church of Saint Martin of Tours had all kinds of accretions and damage when a late nineteenth century architect, Aníbal Álvarez y Amoroso by name, decided that San Martin needed to go right back to how it was eight hundred years before. And he pulled it off.
The church was closed, I haven’t seen the interior. Have you?