The Via Francigena
Italy's Spectacular Camino
The Via Francigena, also known as the Camino to Rome, is an ancient walking trail that takes pilgrims on an epic journey from Canterbury in England across the channel to France and through Switzerland, before crossing Italy on the way to Rome.
Like the Camino de Santiago, this is a historic pilgrimage route that has been walked for centuries. In medieval times, the Via Francigena was an important road for pilgrims heading south to Rome. It connected Abbeys and Monasteries, on the path to the Holy City of Rome.
This scenic route takes walkers through some of the most beautiful regions in Europe, such as the Dover cliffs, the Great War battlefields of Northern France, Lake Geneva and the mighty Alps. Other highlights include the picturesque hills of Tuscany and finally, Rome, the jewel of the crown.
If you are hoping to walk the Via Francigena, the most popular section to experience is the Via Francigena in Tuscany. If you would prefer to zoom through the countryside on a bike, we have created a specific Cycling section of the Via Francigena that you can experience. Another great option is to walk the last 100km of the route into Rome in one week. If you walk the last 100km, you can receive your Testimonium, which is similar to the Compostela Certificate in Santiago.
Highlights Of The Via Francigena in Italy
The Via Francigena in Italy passes through some of the best landscapes in Europe. Here are some of the must-see places along this beautiful route:
- Marvel at the historic city of Lucca
- Travel back in time in San Giminiano and discover the location that made Romeo and Juliet famous.
- Get lost in Siena’s street maze
- Cycle or walk in the pure Val D’orcia
- Discover Renaissance Viterbo
- Visit Esturian (Pre-Romanic) sites in Sutri
- Size the scale of what was the Roman empire in Rome
- Fill your spiritual joy metre in Vatican City
This stunning Pilgrimage to Rome was named European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in 1994. Read more about the Via Francigena on our blog.
Testimonium Certificate on The Via Francigena
The famous certificate given after the completion of Via Francigena is called the Testimonium. You can receive it when you complete your pilgrimage into Rome from any distance over 100km. It is the equivalent of the famous Compostela for the Camino de Santiago.
To request your Testimonium, remember to take your ‘credenziali’ or pilgrim passport and stamp it along the way in hotels, restaurants, churches, and monasteries.
Camino Ways Route Planner
For over 1000 years, pilgrims from all over the world have walked the Camino Ways across Europe in their quest for spirituality. Making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, they encountered a variety of people, cultures and beliefs, leading to friendship and new experiences. This continues today with the Camino de Santiago being the most well known and well-loved walk in the world. More than just a walk, the Camino de Santiago is an unforgettable and unique journey for the body, mind and soul.
When To Go on the Via Francigena
The weather on the Via Francigena can be described in the following way:
- High-Season – For the Pilgrims on the Via Francigena, the high season are spring and autumn. It is never too hot or wet, and there are almost no tourists.
- Mid-Season – July and August. It can be hot, and some hotels are full due to the demand from the sight-seeing tourist in cities and famous villages.
- Low Season – Winter – can be cold and wet from November to March. Most of the hotels are closed.
The Terrain on the Via Francigena
The Via Francigena follows a mix of dirt and gravel tracks and peaceful country roads. Except for parts where you must cross the main road, it never runs along busy highways. It is, for the most part, a rustic countryside experience.
It is not a mountain trek either, you can expect an average ascent and descent, of plus of minus 400m everyday, which is not challenging (In comparison, the GR20 or TMB give you 1500 to 2000m per day).
The Sections Of The Via Francigena in Italy
San Miniato to Siena
What better way to uncover beautiful Tuscany than on foot? Rove across rolling green hills and lush vineyards, marvel at medieval architecture. On this section of the Via Francigena walking from San Miniato to Siena, there is a new treasure to be discovered each day with world-class Italian cuisine to fuel your journey.
This is a hiking holiday to suit everybody’s needs with relatively short distances and little elevation to allow you to take your time and enjoy every moment just like an Italian!
Viterbo to Rome
The final section of the Via Francigena from Viterbo to Rome, takes you ambling through the idyllic Lazio countryside and down Roman paths, across bountiful orchards of orange and lemon and lush olive groves on your way to one of the most iconic cities on the planet.
Lose yourself in the streets of Viterbo and Sutriand be transported back in time through the many historical sites en route. You’ll finish your week’s walking in the eternal city, tucking into the world’s best pizza washed down with a glass of Chianti.
Lucca to Siena Cycling
Perfect for lounging lovers looking for a relaxing cycling trip, we recommend an easy 8-day cycle from Lucca to Siena. The tour includes 6 cycling days, covering between 14km and 27kms per day. This tour is suitable for all levels. You will have plenty of time to explore historic towns and villages along the way and enjoy a leisurely lunch break.
Includes: standard packages include half-board accommodation in selected properties and a holiday pack with practical information. Luggage transfers are also available.
History Of The Via Francigena in Italy
At the end of the 10th century, Sigeric the Serious, the Archbishop of Canterbury, followed the Via Francigena to and from Rome to be consecrated by the Pope.
He recorded his route and stops on the return journey, but nothing in that document suggests that the path travelled was new. In 1985, the Italian archaeologist of roads, Giovanni Caselli, retraced the itinerary as described by Archbishop Sigeric, and this is the same itinerary our Via Francigena route follows at CaminoWays.
The Via Francigena was not a single road paved with stone blocks, providing intervals with a change of horses for travellers. Instead, it comprised several possible routes that changed over the centuries as trade and pilgrimage routes developed and waned.
The Lombards financed the maintenance and defence of the sections of road through their territories as a trading route to the north from Rome, avoiding enemy-held cities such as Florence. Unlike Roman roads, the Via Francigena did not connect cities but abbeys instead.
You can discover more information on the official European Association of the Via Francigena.