Anyone who has tried to fill a backpack with the mere essentials, leaving at home anything superfluous and following the impulse of his footsteps to enjoy the striking landscapes along the Via Francigena, cannot wait to resume the journey. Whether you love nature or want to discover the culture of these places, the bundle of paths connecting Rome to Canterbury remains a fascinating itinerary.
The Via Francigena crosses seven Italian regions (Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Liguria, Tuscany and Lazio) and 139 municipalities: 1,000 years of history to be retraced along 1,000 km from the Gran San Bernardo to Rome, divided into 45 stages.
Walkways, mule tracks, dirt paths, with little or no traffic, unsurfaced roads, ancient cart tracks with river cobblestones, the Via Francigena is not a single road. It has many possible deviations, making it a path with many souls. The souls of those who are moved by faith, those who want to find themselves, those who seek to discover their limits, and those who want to experience these lands in a different way.
The Italian stages start with the Alps, between the Capuchin monasteries and the fairytale castles of the Aosta Valley, before arriving in Piedmont, where the path becomes gentler, weaving through picturesque villages and pleasant nature trails. Next come the abbeys, plains and grassy areas of Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, until you reach the Ligurian stage from Aulla to Sarzana, where the view reaches down to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Then the Tuscan stages, from the challenging Lunigiana to those between Lucca and Siena, passing by wonderful views of the ridges of the Val d’Arbia, until you catch a glimpse of extraordinary villages like Monteriggioni and unique cities like Siena. An exciting view across the hills as far as the eye can see opens up when you take the Cassia to enter Lazio and you walk on the ancient paving of the Roman road passing through Viterbo and Campagnano.
You have the choice of where to start! Whether it is short or long, a journey along the Via Francigena is sure to become an unforgettable experience.
Admire the frescoes of the Church of San Martino in Arnad, the Roman bridges and castles in the Val D'Aosta section that goes from Gran San Bernardo to Ivrea
Appreciate the silence while walking among the rice paddies in the Piedmont section that goes from Ivrea to Vercelli
Cross the Po by boat from the Lombard to the Emilian shore, the ancient Transitum Padi
Take a break for a tasting of Parmesan cheese in the Emilia section from Piacenza to Fidenza
Pass the Apennines in Lunigiana and deviate slightly down to the sea in Liguria near the ancient Roman harbour of Luni, where the pilgrims embarked for Santiago
Contemplate the "Holy Face" in the Cathedral of Lucca, then dine with the Franciscan Friars at San Miniato Alto
Catch a glimpse of the towers of San Gimignano while walking in the forests of Val d'Elsa
Take a memorable dip at the thermal baths of Bagno Vignoni or Gambassi in Tuscany
Arrive in Tuscia from Radicofani, crossing beautiful forests and admiring the views over Lake Bolsena
Walk like the ancient pilgrims on the paving of the ancient Via Cassia to Rome and St. Peter