Via Francigena Stage 4: Fidenza to Aulla
- Encountering the unusual and rare rock formations of the Salti del Diavolo
- Walk in the foothills of the scenic Apennine Mountains
- Paying a visit to the Museo delle Statue Stele which houses fascinating primitive sculptures
- Absorbing the mesmerizing views of the Apennine Mountains when crossing the Cisa Pass
- Sampling delicious and famous cured meats and cheeses of the Parma region
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive in Fidenza
Fidenza is a town situated in the Emilia-Romagna region and originated from a Roman camp called Fidentia. On arrival you should consider visiting the Romanesque Duomo, built of pink stone and dating from the 12th century. See the statue of the apostle Simon Peter at the front of the cathedral which is pointing in the direction of Rome. An inscription reading “I show you the way to Rome" makes this one of the world’s first road signs.
A calm and relaxing hotel with all necessary amenities and services.
Today’s walking takes you through hilly terrain as you are now in the foothills of the Apennines which run the length of the Italian peninsula. You will walk through farms, vineyards and gorgeous undulating countryside before reaching Fornovo, a town known officially as Fornovo di Taro as it is located in the Taro River Valley and only a few kilometres from Parma, a city famous for its cured hams (prosciutto) and cheeses. Perhaps you can sample some of these delicious local specialities when dining tonight.
A calm and relaxing hotel with all necessary amenities and services.
Fuel up on an energising breakfast before you set off on your challenging day's walk, today you begin your climb to the Cisa Pass. Situated at 1,040m it divides the Ligurian and Tuscan Apennines. The superb mountain scenery is a highlight and in addition to this, you will pass through the Salti del Diavolo, unusual rock formations which were formed over 80 million years ago. Translated as the Devil’s Jumps, they are located in the Baganza Valley, stand a few metres in height and rise like needles up from the valley floor. When walking through this strange geological landscape you may feel like you are on another planet!
Please note that due to accommodation limitations along the route, you will receive a transfer from Cassio to Berceto (and back the next morning to continue your walk as usual).
A Pilgrim's hostel.
This morning we have arranged a transfer to collect you from your accommodation and transfer you back to Cassio, to rejoin the trail where you left off the day before.
First, take a steep climb through a shady forest and then pass through the appealing little 'village street' or borga-strada of Castellonchio, whose houses were built next to each other and lined the Via Francigena when pilgrimages were at their peak. Continue until you reach the crest of a hill from where you can see Berceto, your next destination nestled in the valley below.
Berceto is also located on the Via Romea and used to be a crossroads for commerce between the Po Valley and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Located in Berceto’s historic centre, just a few steps from the Romanesque cathedral (the Duomo), La Casa dei Nonni offers different accommodation types with its five rooms. The breakfast room has been obtained from a picturesque arch cellar which once belonged to the ancient houses of the medieval castle of the Rossi Earls.
Today you leave the Emilia Romagna region behind and enter Tuscany to enjoy some of the most stunning scenery along the Via Francigena. Upon crossing the Cisa Pass the views will leave you breathless (and not just because of the climb!). Descend through lovely woods with beech and chestnut trees, eventually arriving in Previdè later this afternoon. Sip a much-needed refreshing beverage in a local café.
A clean and comfortable hotel with all necessary amenities and services.
Along the way today you will see many interesting pilgrimage sites, such as small alters, little chapels and signs that during medieval times faith was so much a part of life. After reaching Cavezzana d’Antena, which has a natural spring, take the trail to the village of Groppoli, after which you cross over a bridge that was built in 300 AD.
A lovely B&B with a great location, clean and comfortable with all necessary amenities and services.
Slowly descend through fragrant Italian hills as your trail reaches the River Magra Valley. It is just outside Pontremoli where you will discover the St Annunziata Church which was built in the 15th century and commemorates a time when the Virgin appeared to a young shepherd girl. Continue descending to the Pieve di Sorano inside which there is an original Statue Stele. Arrive in Aulla, lying in the shadow of the imposing 16th century Fortress of Brunella and at the confluence of the Magra and Aulella rivers. The town was a significant trade and pilgrimage centre and therefore an important place on the Via Francigena.
The Demy Hotel is a brand new building owned by the family De Micheli who carefully manages it. The hotel is equipped with every comfort to ensure you have an enjoyable stay.
Albergo Ristorante Pasquino is a welcoming hotel in Aulla with comfortable rooms. Enjoy fresh pasta and delicious local dishes in its restaurant.
After breakfast your walking holiday will come to an end. See the Travel & Transfers section for some useful details for your onward travel.
Other InformationIs it for me?
This particular section is graded as moderate to strenuous. You will walk through the Apennine Mountains into Tuscany, crossing a high pass and along river valleys, through farming country and vineyards.
Pilgrimages | For those looking to follow a path of self-discovery. Our Pilgrimage and Camino routes take you on a journey through diverse landscapes and local flavours, while meeting like-minded adventurers along the way.
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 12 Years
This tour is suitable for people that are in excellent physical condition. It is rated moderate to strenuous as you will be crossing the Apennine Mountains. Even though some days have walks of up to 32km, there are other days that are short, giving you time to recover. However, even on the short walking days there may be elevation gains and losses and on some days these are significant.
You need to be a regular walker and in good physical shape to complete the Full Via Francigena. If you are doing shorter stages then these are less demanding, but the per day mileage still includes longer distances on some days and a couple of the stages include ascents and descents, especially in the foothills of the Alps at the start of the Via Francigena route. We would recommend taking training walks carrying your daypack ahead of going on this trip.
During your trip you will stay in a variety of accommodations. The properties range from private rooms in pilgrims' hostels to 2, 3 and 4* hotels as well as B&B's and guesthouses. At times you will be staying in remote towns and villages, therefore the accommodations in these places are the best that these particular areas have to offer.
If you require single rooms for your party we would be happy to accommodate you. Solo walkers are also welcomed.
Important: Due to the remote location of some of the smaller towns and villages along the way it is possible that some of your overnight hotels will be a few kilometres from the route or in a nearby town or village. If this is the case, you will always receive directions to and from the trail in your route notes. Please be aware that this may result in slightly longer or shorter walking days.
Daily breakfasts are included. Breakfasts are usually continental or Italian-style with a choice of bread, croissants, meats, and cheeses. Sometimes it is possible to order packed lunches at your hotel or B&B the evening before or you can buy lunch in groceries, cafes, and restaurants en route. You can opt to include dinners as well if you wish.
The trail in the most part is well marked but in some of the agricultural areas, such as the cultivated lowlands, this does become sparser. Along the length of the route, it also travels through several different municipalities and the style of the markers can vary between them and not every region has invested in consistently waymarking the trail.
The type of markers includes brown metal plates with two walkers and the route name on them or smaller ones showing a pilgrim and an arrow pointing the right way at road junctions. Red and white signs with a yellow pilgrim on them are also common. There are also signs with little yellow pilgrims on them and a white arrow which points towards Rome (those that are the same but with a yellow arrow lead to Santiago). In the Valle d’Aosta the signs tend to be yellow with Via Francigena written on them along with a route number.
Even if the signs can be lacking or confusing at times, navigation is straightforward as you can use the Macs Adventure Smartphone App which has maps, GPS tracks, and daily route information. Simply download the GPS tracks for offline use and follow the route on your phone with the assurance that navigation will be simple, and you can’t get lost.
- Overnights in a variety of accommodation
- Door to door baggage transfer as per your itinerary
- Access to maps, GPX tracks and daily route information with the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
- Transfers where mentioned in the itinerary
- All your trip documents including a detailed information pack provided digitally through your online Macs “My Account”
- Telephone support from our office in the event of a problem
- Travel to and from the start and finish points
- Public transportation where mentioned in the itinerary
- Lunches, dinners, drinks, and snacks
- Any additional travel en route, should you wish to miss a day's walking
- Travel insurance (required) and personal equipment
- Mountain rescue / emergency assistance
- Tourist taxes (charged locally at hotels)
- Additional nights before, after or during the trip
- Half board upgrade supplement
This trip is available from mid-March to the end of October. You can start your tour on any date in the season.
Spring in Italy is sublime and May and June are absolutely lovely. Autumn is a great time of year as the landscape is made up of a gold and red pallet so September is unmissable. July and August can be very hot so you will have to start early to miss the heat of the day and then perhaps have a long lunch and finish walking in the mid to late afternoon.
The best airports to fly into to reach Fidenza are Parma, Bologna or any of the Milan Airports (Milan Malpensa or Milan Linate). From these airports it is possible to take a train to Fidenza. As the first accommodation is outside Fidenza your hosts will pick you up from the train station. You will find information regarding train schedules and fares at the Trenitalia website.
The best airports to fly out of after finishing your tour in Aulla are Pisa or Genoa. From Aulla take a train to Pisa (via Pisa Centrale Station). The journey takes between one and a half and two hours and you can find more information regarding train schedules and fares at the Trenitalia website. Alternatively if you fly from Genoa you can take a direct train from Aulla to Genoa Train Station and then from here take a thirty minute shuttle bus to Genoa Airport.
Enjoy the ease of walking with a light backpack and having your main luggage moved for you each day (included). Your bags will be collected from your accommodation and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.
Please be prepared by packing all necessary items. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, a day pack, sun hat, and sunscreen.
At Macs Adventure we care about the environment. We’re taking action to minimise the impact we have by converting the majority of our tour documentation for online delivery. On this tour, most of your detailed tour information will be digitally delivered. You will have access to this documentation via “My Account” on our website and the Macs Adventure Smartphone App.
There are three main pieces of equipment that are essential to you enjoying your pilgrimage, and they are comfortable walking shoes with good wool or anti-blister socks, and a day pack that gives you good back support.
Most surfaces along the way are smooth and so walking shoes should suffice rather than boots. It is hard surface walking for the most part, so we recommend walking shoes that have a good level of padding or walking socks that offer cushioning. There are a few sections of the route which include mountain paths, in particular in Stage 1 in the Alps. For this part of the route waterproof walking boots with good ankle support and sturdy tread are recommended.
This depends on the time of year you are walking; if travelling in the spring or autumn it can be cool in the morning, but it soon heats up in the late morning and afternoon so make sure and bring some layers with you. During the summer months, the area can be prone to afternoon thunderstorms, so waterproofs are also essential in case of heavy showers, or you may find since it’s still hot that a lightweight rain poncho is more suitable.
You will receive a full kit list as part of your trip documentation.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation, and hospital care.
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