The Via Francigena walking and cycling route spans over 1,700 kilometres from Canterbury to Rome. This famous pilgrimage crosses four countries at different stages: UK, France, Switzerland and Italy. All of the routes on what is commonly known as the ‘Camino to Rome’ offer the opportunity to create long lasting memories of your walking or cycling holiday in Europe. However, there are a few very special sections that stand out. This week we will give you an overview of the most popular sections along this wonderful pilgrim route and the highlights that you can expect to see along the way.
First up is section 9 from Lausanne to Aosta which covers 157 kilometres of the Via Francigena. On this route expect spectacular views, wide varying landscapes, unique cuisine and bundles of history. Starting your walk alongside the beautiful Lake Geneva, this part of the Via Francigena takes you through charming Swiss villages. This section is most famous for the St.Bernard Pass “Col du Grand St. Bernard” which sits at 2,469m above sea-level and has been used over centuries by the armies of Rome and Napoleon as well as pilgrims. The summit is the highest point of the whole route from Canterbury to Rome. Other highlights of this section include the archaeological remains in the village of Martigny, the Chateau de Chillon and lakeside tracks. Finishing in the ancient town of Aosta is a treat as you meander the narrow streets in a town fed by the glaciers of the Swiss Alps.
The next most popular section is section 14 which takes you right through the heart of the Tuscan countryside from Lucca to Siena. This not-to-miss walking tour on the Via Francigena offers the perfect introduction to the calming tuscan lifestyle. Enjoy walking through olive groves, chestnut forests and the breathtaking trails surrounding the town of San Miniato. Starting this journey in the city of Lucca, known as the city of 100 churches, gives you an eye opening experience of the history of the region. Along the way, take in the incredible rolling hills and sample some of the best Italian cuisine in the many quaint villages. Walk by the famous Chianti vineyards until you reach the medieval town of San Gimignano where you can visit the ‘San Gimignano 1300’ museum. Siena, as the last stop on this section, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for its medieval architecture, ‘Palio’ festival and museums.
Finally, who wouldn’t fancy walking into the ancient city of Rome. There’s something romantic about walking into the wonderful capital of Italy from the medieval town of Viterbo. Walking along the cobbled streets of medieval Viterbo you get your first taste of the route ahead. From the small town of Sutri all the way to Campagnano di Roma you are greeted by unspoilt landscapes. Visit the magical gardens of Villa Lante, pass by peaceful streams and discover the remains of an ancient Etruscan city. When you reach Rome you will have time to be inspired by the many famous buildings, artifacts and historic treasures. A wonderful combination of scenic passages and historic monuments makes this last section of the Via Francigena extra special.
These are just three out of 16 walking sections along the Via Francigena route which dates back as far as the seventh century. Remember that 2016 is a holy year in Rome and the Vatican will be hosting religious festivities throughout the year.
For more information on the above routes or to book your next walking or cycling holiday on the Via Francigena contact one of our travel specialists.