At the end of September, we ran one of our Guided tours on the Via Francigena in Italy. After a wonderful tour, we sat down with the tour guide, Francesco to talk more about guided tours on the Via Francigena and what visitors can expect:
Hello Francesco, can you tell me a bit about what your organisation does?
Good morning I am Francesco Di Murro. I am a tourist and environmental guide. We guide groups of travelers of all ages along the Via Francigena.
What challenges have you faced maintaining the Via Francigena?
The Via Francigena is a younger pilgrimage than the Way of St. James. Still today there are fewer pilgrims than the Way of St. James and also bars and places to rest are many less along the stages. Especially in the early years, it was not easy.
How much of the route have you walked yourself?
I have traveled several times the Via Francigena from Lucca to Rome. Is more than 350 km. Both alone, with other fellow guides, my family, and of course with travelers from all over the world.
What nationalities are the people that walk the Via Francigena today and how has that changed over time?
People from all over the world but above all Italians, Irish, Americans, Australians, Swiss, English, Kurds and Norwegians.
What are the most popular sections of the route? And why?
The sections of the pilgrimage that are most popular in my opinion are two:
The first is the stretch from Lucca to Siena for the beauty of the landscape, the countryside, and villages along the way are rich in history and art.
The second most beautiful stretch is the one from Montefiascone to Rome. along this stretch you walk for a few more km along the ancient Roman basalt roads and then arrive in Rome which is always a wonderful emotional experience.
Is there a certificate of completion?
Yes, to get the Testimonium of St. Peter and Paul you have to walk at least 100 km on foot (200 km by bike) and you have to collect at least one stamp on your credential for each day of walking.
How important is the route to the economy of the areas it passes through?
Contrary to the route of St. James, pilgrims on the Via Francigena still have no decisive influence on the market.
They still consider us pioneers. Certainly, the working season for some hotels is getting longer thanks to the pilgrims and the Via Francigena route.
When is the best time to go?
You can walk on the Via Francigena always. There are groups that reach St. Peter’s on Christmas day! But without doubt spring and autumn are the two best seasons for the sweetness of the climate.
What are the highlights of each stage? Firstly, Lucca to Siena? Secondly, Siena to Rome?
The most beautiful things to see along the stretch from Lucca to Siena are:
The two cities of arrival and departure (Lucca and Siena), the Tuscan countryside with its hills, the wine, and San Gimignano the town of towers.
The most beautiful things to see or live along the stretch of Siena to Rome are the orcia valley that looks like a sea of wheat, the lake of Bolsena, pasta, and pizza and the rock church of Santa Maria del parto in Sutri.
And of course Rome, the eternal city.
What kind of architecture are you likely to see walking on the route?
Along the Via Francigena, you can find Etruscan tombs, ancient Roman roads, Gothic, and Renaissance Romanesque churches.
In short, along the pilgrimage, you will meet all the stages of the artistic history of the Italian peninsula.
What kind of food can people expect to eat on the Via Francigena?
In Tuscany, we eat mainly cold cuts for starters, in the Sienese area a pasta called Pici with Cinta Senese sauce.
Pici are like big handmade spaghetti while Cinta Senese is the local piglet with strange black and white colours.
Secondly we also eat excellent vegetables and the wild boar, the king of our woods.
In the stretch of Lake Bolsena, you can eat excellent lake fish such as grilled whitefish that has nothing on the sea fish.
In the Roman section, pasta is the real queen with all possible sauces to try!
Can you give us three reasons why anyone thinking about their next adventure/walk/tour should consider the Via Francigena trail?
1-Even if you have visited Italy several times, walking along the Via Francigena will allow you to get to know places outside the classic tourist routes.
2- The route passes through some of the most beautiful towns and cities in Italy, just to mention a few: San Miniato, San Gimignano, San Quirico d’Orcia, Radicofani and Sutri.
3-The route is not yet very popular and there are not too many pilgrims along the way, it is the ideal pilgrimage to reflect and to take a refreshing break.
If you would like to book one of our guided tours on the Via Francigena please contact us using the form below: