Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike

Available on Kindle Edition on December 14, 2019

by Julie Gianelloni Connor (Author), Mary Ellen Connor (Illustrator)

El Camino de Santiago Book coverSavoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike is the first book by author Julie Gianelloni Connor. The book focus is on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage trail that began around 820 AD. A resurrection of interest in the Camino since the 1970s has meant that more than 300,000 individuals are nowadays undertaking the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela each year. The author made the pilgrimage in 2016 via the French route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, a journey of some 500 miles. Her book incorporates a blog and travel journal she kept during that pilgrimage. The book is also a memoir, with Ms. Connor explaining how and why she decided to make the pilgrimage. 

Savoring the Camino is also a practical guide to the Camino for those interested in it. While the prevailing culture of the Camino is to walk the route, Ms. Connor believes that walking is not the only way to undertake the Camino. Taking buses, taxis, or even driving are also valid ways to experience the Camino, in her opinion. She advocates for pilgrims to slow down and savor the pilgrimage by stopping in churches, cathedrals, museums, and interesting towns and cities along the route. Not everyone experiences spiritual or personal growth through the act of walking; Ms. Connor urges pilgrims to take the trip in the manner that will most connect them with their spiritual, religious, and transcendental well springs.

After completing the pilgrimage, the author journeyed on to Madrid and Toledo, and there are chapters in the book covering those visits. Ms. Connor also recounts activities following the journey related to the Camino, such as writing an open letter to relevant governmental authorities in Spain and hosting a thank-you dinner in Houston for those who helped her plan and organize her pilgrimage.

The book also includes a useful chapter on resources as well as an index.

Julie Gianelloni Connor photo

On a personal note: Julie Gianelloni Connor is one of my many Gianelloni cousins and I have followed her career years through her many journals and articles she has written (in English and Spanish) during her many service years on diplomatic posts around the world. She is the surviving daughter of my Aunt Jeanette Singleton Gianelloni (1922-2012), who was an equally magnificent role model, a vibrant woman during her many years in Baton Rouge – and a member of MENSA. Julie certainly has a magnificent style as she has captured the essence of “travel blogs” with this, her journal of the well-travelled passage known to many as El Camino de Santiago. She had the forethought to maintain (and post whenever there was the ability to transmit electronically) her daily diary and with passages subsequently sent to her friends and relatives. We encouraged her to pursue the publication of her Diary Travel Blogs and include her many photographic entries. This is written as a personal journal, but the symphony of cultural appreciation for each day’s passage just indicated further that this story should be shared. I am equally appreciative for her adding the creation of Bayou City Press where she will have ample opportunity to expand her future publications.

My own sister, Marcelle Tarilton Gianelloni, who recently retired after 33 years as Curator of Education at the Louisville Zoo (and a worldwide traveler in her own right), also made the passage on El Camino de Santiago de Compostela several years prior and found the endurance of non-stop walking an equally challenging feat. Talk about endurance in this family!

In Remembrance of Julie’s Mother:

Jeanette Singleton, Baton Rouge community leader, advocate for women’s issues, and beloved mother, passed away on Friday, August 31, 2012. Jeanette was born in 1922 in Orange, Texas, and raised in Vinton, Louisiana. She came to Baton Rouge to attend LSU, graduating in 1942, and called Baton Rouge her home for the rest of her life. Jeanette married V.J. Gianelloni, Jr., and had six children with him. Jeanette was very active in Baton Rouge community affairs. She was for many years one of the adult leaders of the Riverside 4-H Club, which was one of the leading 4-H clubs in the state. She also was for many years active with her sorority, Alpha Phi, serving as treasurer for the organization, among other roles. Jeanette was a member and president of OWL, the Older Women’s League. She actively supported her husband in his service to the Capital City Kiwanis Club. A breast cancer survivor, Jeanette became an advocate for insurance coverage for women who were left without insurance after their husbands retired, died, or divorced them. She lobbied in the Louisiana legislature for a state law granting insurance coverage at previous rates to such women. During that period, she was a familiar figure in the halls of the state capitol building. That Louisiana law was passed and served as a model for the COBRA law, which covers spouses in such situations on a national basis. For her role in that effort, she was selected by the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1984 as one of its 50 – one from each state — American Heroines. Ladies’ Home Journal titled Jeanette an “Insurance Champion” for her pioneering effort to extend insurance coverage. Jeanette also lobbied on behalf of efforts to establish respite homes for families that cared at home for handicapped individuals. In 1993 Jeanette received her Master’s degree from LSU. At the time, she was 71 years old and the oldest graduate to receive a master’s degree. Jeanette was a talented writer, and in later years spent a lot of time writing biographical stories and items about life in rural Louisiana when she was young. An article Jeanette wrote about a trip she took to Israel was published in the Morning Advocate in 1982. She also wrote many letters and commentaries that were published in the Advocate. A confirmed Christian, Jeanette and her husband V.J. Gianelloni donated the land upon which St. Jude Catholic Church was built. Later in life, she became a member of St. John’s United Methodist Church. Most importantly of all, Jeanette was the devoted mother of six children. At age 11, her daughter, Marcia Lynn, called “Muffet,” contracted eastern equine encephalitis, which left Muffet severely handicapped. For the next forty years, Jeanette cared for Muffet, while raising her other five children, along with helping to raise five nephews and nieces who were orphaned young. Jeanette is survived by her daughter, Julie Gianelloni Connor, and by four sons and daughters-in-law: Vivian J. “Jay” Gianelloni, III (Joanne); James R. “Buzz” Gianelloni (Ruth); Douglas D. “Gigger” Gianelloni (Charlotte); and Victor G. Gianelloni (Lisa); as well as by her nieces Sherry Singleton Vasser and Penny Gianelloni Bennett, nephew William Gianelloni, and 12 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her daughter Muffet Gianelloni; her former husband, V.J. Gianelloni, Jr.; and her nephews Bobby Brent Singleton and Al Gianelloni.