Camino de Santiago or Camino to Rome?

Is the Via Francigena a similar trail to the Camino de Santiago? How does the Camino to Rome compare to the Camino de Santiago? What can I find along the way? These are frequently asked questions among walkers. On this blog post, we explain the main similarities and differences between Europe’s most famous heritage trails: the Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena.

Camino de Santiago or Camino to Rome?

The Origins

Both the Camino de Santiago and Via Francigena are long distance walking routes following medieval pilgrimage trails.

Both have been made European Cultural Itineraries by the Council of Europe:
The Camino de Santiago was the first European Cultural Itinerary, and has been listed by UNESCO since 1987.
The Via Francigena is a European Cultural Route since 1994.

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The Routes

The Camino de Santiago has many different routes, the most famous being the French Way (800km), featuring in many books, movies and documentaries. If you are looking for lesser known routes, you can also choose many other alternative ways: the Portuguese Way, Northern Way, Finisterre Way, Original Way and many other Camino routes in France: Le Puy, Vezelay, Arles Way, etc.

The classic Via Francigena covers 1,900km from Canterbury to Rome and follows the route taken by Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury, on his pilgrimage to Rome in the 10th century. It crosses most of Europe: it starts in Canterbury Cathedral, then crosses the English Channel from Dover to Calais, passing the WWI battlefields of Northern France, the Champagne region, Switzerland and the Alps, into Italy and through Aosta, the Apennines, Tuscany and Lazio, before reaching Rome.

You can also follow the Saint Francis Way (Via Francigena di Francesco or Cammino di Francesco from Florence to Rome) or the Via Francigena of the South.

Popularity

In terms of numbers, the Camino de Santiago, particularly the French Way (which attracts 70% of Camino-goers) gets thousands of pilgrims from all over the globe every year. The Pilgrims Office in Santiago compiles statistics and keeps records of all the ‘Compostela’ issued (pilgrimage certificate awarded when reaching Santiago) and only last year over 200,000 people received the ‘Compostela’. This number won’t even include the number of pilgrims walking the routes in France (unless they walked all the way to Santiago) or the Finisterre Way, a route starting in Santiago. It is estimated another 400,000 walk sections of the various Camino routes not finishing in Santiago.

Numbers for the Via Francigena are difficult to come by and much lower than on the Camino. 2,500 pilgrims walked or cycled the Via Francigena in 2012 (source: Cicerone Guides). Since the Via Francigena is such a long trail, it is also difficult to estimate the total number of pilgrims walking only parts of the trail but not making it all the way to Rome.

Waymarked-ViaFrancigena-Tuscany-caminoways.com_-638x359Way Marking

Camino de Santiago: the ubiquitous/omnipresent yellow arrow and yellow scallop shell are the most recognisable Camino markings along all routes. In France, you will find them mixed with the red-white stripes long distance trail markings.

Via Francigena: it is reasonably well marked in Italy with the red and white stripes and the Francigena pilgrim. It is more difficult to find in France, Switzerland and the UK (be aware you might find different types of Francigena markings: the pilgrim, the red and white stripes, both combined).

Time

800km (1 month) to walk the full French Way.
1900 (3 months) to walk the full Via Francigena.
Luckily, you can choose to walk any section you like!

The Pilgrim Certificate

The Compostela for those on the Camino de Santiago; but there are also other pilgrim certificates such as the Finisterrana (in Finisterre) and the Muxiana (in Muxia).
you can get the Testimonium of pilgrimage to Rome if you are walking from Acquapendente or Viterbo. There are other pilgrim certificates also on the St Francis Way.

The Experience

If you are looking for the social aspect: go for the Camino, French Way (second most popular is the Portuguese Way, followed by the Northern Way).
If you are interested in the landscape, history, walking and overall experience but don’t mind not meeting many other pilgrims, other Camino routes and the Via Francigena will be ideal.

Check with our travel consultants if you need advice on which particular section you should take.

*For more information about the Camino de Santiago or to book your holiday, contact our travel specialists

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Comments

  1. by Maria

    Hi Audrey, that’s fantastic. The most popular sections of the Via Francigena are the sections across Tuscany: http://francigenaways.com/ways/via-francigena/via-francigena-section-14/ (from Lucca to Siena); http://francigenaways.com/ways/via-francigena/via-frangigena-section-15/ (from Siena to Viterbo) and also the last section into Rome http://francigenaways.com/ways/via-francigena/via-francigena-section-16/. They can be combined also, depending on the time you’d like to walk. Our Customer Care team will send you some information. Let us know if you need anything else. Kind regards.

  2. by Audrey Dawson

    Can you please send me information about the Roman Camino. I walked the Portuguese trail a few months ago and the French trail 2 years ago, now I am looking for a new adventure. Thanks

  3. by Maria

    Hi Anne, cycling the Via Francigena will be a fantastic adventure! you can find our current itinerary here: http://francigenaways.com/ways/via-francigena/via-francigena-full-cycle/, and this blog post should be useful: http://francigenaways.com/long-via-francigena-take/. The infrastructure on the Via Francigena is nowhere close to the services you will find on the Camino so accommodation should be booked in advance. Our standard accommodation will be guesthouses and small family-run hotels along the route, some agriturismos in Italy as well. Let us know if you would like to receive a quote from the Customer Care team. Kindest regards.

  4. by Anne Berit Flovik

    Could you please send me the via francisgena route from canterbury to rome. I will go by bicycle. I also wonder if there are cheap places to stay on the way.
    Sincerely Anne Berit

  5. by Lisa

    Good Morning Rick, thank you for your post. I will get one of our Travel Specialists to send you details on the Camino to Rome walking route. Kind regards, Lisa.

  6. by Rick Carr

    Could you please send me route details of the Rome walk

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