What is the Via Francigena?
Like the Camino de Santiago, the Via Francigena (the Camino to Rome) is an ancient pilgrimage route. This epic trail starts in Canterbury Cathedral, in the UK, and takes pilgrims across Europe and into Rome, the Eternal city. The entire Via Francigena is 1900km long and follows the route taken by Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury, who went on a pilgrimage to Rome in the 10th century and recorded it in a travel diary. What is the Via Francigena?
It takes 3 months to walk the full length of the Via Francigena and a month and a half to cycle the route. However many pilgrims choose to do a few days or weeks at a time.
When is the best time to walk the Via Francigena?
While awareness of the Via Francigena is increasing, the Camino to Rome doesn’t attract as many pilgrims as the Camino de Santiago. It is estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 people walk or cycle sections of the Via Francigena each year; compared to over 350000 Camino pilgrims receiving Compostela certificates in Santiago in 2019 for instance.
Certain sections of the Via Francigena such as Tuscany and the regions closer to Rome will be the most popular and it is here where you will be more likely to encounter fellow Francigena pilgrims.
From a social aspect Spring to Autumn is the best time to travel, as you will be more likely to meet other walkers and cyclists along the way. Most of the sections are suitable to walk in the winter, apart from mountain regions such as the stretch across the Alps and St Bernard’s Pass, however, it will be a more solitary experience.
Some hotels and guest houses, particularly in rural areas, might be closed so additional transfers might be needed. If you are interested in travelling in the winter months, check with our team and they will be able to advise and confirm availability.
The weather will also be an important deciding factor when choosing the right time to travel.
Tuscany is one of the favourite sections of the Via Francigena but SPRING and AUTUMN months are better if you want to avoid the summer heat of July and August (*If you’d like to catch the famous Palio di Siena, you will have to travel in July or August).
In September and October, you will enjoy pleasant temperatures and might also be able to catch the regional wine harvest in full swing.
The last section into Rome, can be done most of the year but again Spring and Autumn are probably the best in terms of weather.
EASTER is a pretty special time in the Eternal City but bookings for this time of the year must be done well in advance to secure accommodation in the city.
If you are planning to walk the Via Francigena to coincide with specific festivals and events, make sure you book well in advance, as accommodation availability can be limited for those dates.
Talk to our travel specialists about the best time to walk the Via Francigena if you have a preferred section in mind we haven’t covered in this post.
The Most Popular Via Francigena Tours
1. Walking through Tuscany
Walking from Lucca to Siena is our clients’ favourite. It takes eight days to complete and walkers will be walking in a region of wonderful beauty and history, stopping in spectacular towns such as San Gimignano and Siena. We also have an ‘Easy Walk‘ option for this tour, starting from San Miniato and walking an average of 15kms per day.
2. Camino to Rome
The last section of the Via Francigena from medieval Viterbo to Rome is the best tour for those who want to walk into Rome and claim their Testimonium pilgrim certificate.
3. Via Francigena Guided Tours
We also organise Via Francigena guided tours departing on selected dates, focusing on specific sections.
The Via Francigena has been gaining popularity in recent years but the route is not as well known as the Camino de Santiago so walkers and cyclists won’t encounter as many pilgrims en route.
4. The St Francis Way
This is an alternative route into Rome, inspired by the life and teachings of St Francis of Assisi. This is a 4-week trail from Florence to Assisi, the Rieti Valley across the Apennines and finally Rome. While shorter, the Way of St Francis is a challenging trek, recommended for experienced hikers.
I hope we answered for you What is the Via Francigena? For more information about our Via Francigena tours or to be listed as a travel agent with FrancigenaWays.com, contact our Groups team