Victoria couple retells tales of ‘Italian odyssey’

Greater Victoria Library hosting talks on health and wellness

Julie Burk and Neville Tencer spent seven weeks walking from Switzerland to Italy and have written a book An Italian Odyssey about their experiences.

Julie Burk and Neville Tencer spent seven weeks walking from Switzerland to Italy and have written a book An Italian Odyssey about their experiences.

Walking 1,000 kilometres from Switzerland to Rome can take a toll on a couple.

Neville Tencer and Julie Burk know just how much. Two years ago the Victoria couple spent seven weeks walking the Via Francigena trail, a historic pilgrim route.

“It was kind of like Dante’s comedy,” Tencer said. “There were highs, then a version of hell that we came out of, and a paradise at the end.”

The middle-aged couple wrote and recently published a book, An Italian Odyssey, about their walk.

Although they’ve been together 30 years the trip tested their relationship. Poorly translated guidebooks, inaccurate maps and contradictory directions frequently left them lost on the walk, which took them through six regions of Italy.

But wonderful food, eclectic accommodation in convents, monasteries and guest houses also introduced them to intriguing and colourful characters that inspired them to stay the course.

On Thursday (Jan. 27), the couple will speak about their journey at the Nelly McClung library branch in Saanich. Their talk is one of 15 included in the Greater Victoria Public Library’s speaker series, called Healthy WELLthy and Wise: A celebration of positive aging.

The series, which runs through Feb. 14, features authors and speakers on a host of issues. On Saturday (Jan. 22) at the Monterey branch in Oak Bay, retired University of Victoria chemistry professor Reg Mitchell will talk about sketchy wonder drugs.

Best-selling author Dr. Gabor Mate will speak at Alix Goolden Hall on Jan. 29 about the mind-body connection in staying healthy as one ages.

Burk said she hopes listeners who come to their talk will learn that travel can be more than just “buzzing around and seeing the sites. There’s another way to appreciate a country’s culture.”

For a full list of workshops, visit www.gvpl.ca and click on the link for Healthy WELLthy and Wise.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com