In the Middle Ages, it was the road that brought pilgrims from Canterbury to Rome. The Italian section today is a journey through some of the most fascinating places in the boot. On foot, you don’t need much, in fact very little is enough.
All that is required for this trip is a comfortable pair of shoes. And one of those light backpacks, not too big to hold a camera, a well-detailed map, and if you want, a notebook to mark down your impressions. Well, maybe you’d better keep a poncho and some band- aids for blisters in a backpack pocket, just in case…
A History of 1,000 years and 2,000 km
What exactly is the Via Francigena? It is a road that stretches about 2,000 kilometers, that the Archbishop Sigerico recorded in his diaries when he travelled from England to Italy in 990 A.D.
Via Francigena today means rediscovering a lost way of traveling. Enjoy the pleasure of walking, immersed in nature and surrounded by the beauty of the villages, parish churches, cities and towns: Turin, along the Po, the turreted skyline of San Gimignano, the dome of San Pietro that announces the end of the journey. There are so many things to do along the way because it has been transporting pilgrims for centuries.
There is not only one Francigena, but as many as the countries it crosses. AEVF, the European Association of the Via Francigena, organized them together, offering information on itineraries to follow, and on the reception facilities that can be found along the way. You can also download the App of the Francigena, follow the route on an interactive map or search for the trip that best suits your needs.
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On foot or by bike? Or are you ready for the marathon…
There are few ambitious and tireless travelers who decide to do the whole route starting from England. More often, people travel only a stretch of road, dedicating even just a weekend to the journey. Those looking for a challenge can participate in the Francigena Marathon, scheduled for May 31, 2020, between Bolsena and Montefiascone, in northern Lazio. A 42 km stretch (to be covered without haste) that leads to the discovery of a copy of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, that Lake Bolsena is the largest volcanic basin in Europe, and that in Sutri there is an amphitheater that gives the most famous archeological sites a run for their money.
Does distance scare you? Don’t worry: you can also register for individual sections of the marathon (www.francigenamarathon.it). For those who would rather go by bike, we suggest doing the same route (with some small differences). Our recommendation for the best route is to pedal from Colle San Bernardo to Rome.
Traveling with your taste buds
We said it already, but walking the Via Francigena is truly a way to rediscover the uniqueness and beauty of Italy, and this includes its flavors!
This is why the AEVF developed the “pilgrim’s saddlebag,” a collection of typical products from the areas through which the road passes. Take your taste buds from the salami of “culatello di Zibello” in the province of Parma, to the hazelnuts of Monti Cimini, passing through the “panforte” cakes in Siena.
On www.viefrancigene.org/it/ you will find an entire list of D.O.P. accredited products and manufacturers. In short, even the most gluttonous have no excuse: it's time to get going!
Good to know: The Via Francigena is divided into stages, and each stage is around 20 km a day. The Cisa pass and the San Bernardo hill are the highest points of the road. It is a good idea to buy the "Credential" document that certifies the journey, and that will allow access to accommodation facilities.
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The Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim route
Via Francigena, 53022 Buonconvento SI, Italy