Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Self-guided walking holiday - the Full Italian Via Francigena
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Highlights

  • Walking the full Italian Via Francigena from the Swiss-Italian border to Rome.
  • Beautiful landscapes, churches, towns and villages.
  • Savouring regional specialities; wine, pasta, cheese and cured meats and cheeses.
  • Becoming immersed in the culture and history of each region.
  • Exploring the eternal city of Rome and all its iconic sights.

Pilgrims have been undertaking to walk the full Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome since the 8th Century, and it is one of Europe's great pilgrimages. During your journey along this ancient pilgrimage route you will start at the Swiss-Italian boarder, following trails through classic Italian landscapes and visit exquisite towns rich in culture and artistic treasure.

It is well worth taking on the challenge of walking the full Italian Via Francigena; on your journey you will pass through many distinct and unique Italian regions. Begin your journey at Bourg St Pierre close to the Swiss-Italian border, climbing the high mountain pass of St Bernard, tracing the vineyard-covered foothills of the Apennine mountains, through iconic Tuscan landscapes and distinctive medieval towns and finally from the hilltop town of Montefiascone down into Rome. En route you'll be reminded of an historic past with many references to the thousands upon thousands of pilgrims who walked the same routes in the Middle Ages to Rome. You will cross ancient bridges, see medieval churches, abbeys and cathedrals and encounter intriguing places, such as the 13 towers of San Gimignano, which is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The full Italian Via Francigena is 50 days and includes 49 nights in the best available choice of accommodations for each area (in terms of value and ambience/service), 49 breakfasts, optional baggage transfers, guide book, maps, route notes and information pack. This tour can also be split into different stages (of 1 or 2 weeks). Below you will find a summary of the different stages, however we also offer individual section noted separately on this website, as well as brochure factsheets for each tour (which can be downloaded our website).

The full version of the Italian Via Francigena is 50 days. Here we have divided the complete route into 8 stages and a summary of the highlights has been described. As this tour can be split into the different stages we have brochure factsheets available for each individual section upon request; and each individual section is also featured on our website. Please contact our team or go to the appropriate page of our website.


STAGE 1: Bourg St Pierre to Pont St Martin

A superb week of walking that begins in the heart of the Alps, crosses the border from Switzerland into Italy and traverses the high mountain pass of Great St Bernard. En-route you will be surrounded by a backdrop of magnificent mountain peaks and follow trails through pretty vineyards and orchards. Total 109.5km approx.


STAGE 2: Pont St Martin to Garlasco

This stage of the Via Francigena is full of contrasts, from the snow-capped Alps, to the cultivated hills around Vercelli, and beyond to the vast wide plains of the Po River Valley. Walking through three different regions of Italy; Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont and Lombardy, you visit medieval towns, see ancient towers and churches and shimmering Lake Viverone. Finish this stage in Garlasco. Total 142km approx.


STAGE 3: Garlasco to Fidenza

Cross the fertile river plains of Lombardy and the vineyard-covered foothills of the Apennine Mountains within Emilia Romagna. Discover the traditional towns of Pavia and Piacenza, both incredibly rich in cultural heritage. Total 130.5km approx.


STAGE 4: Fidenza to Aulla

This sections takes you through the Apennine Mountains, known as the “backbone of Italy” and from the region of Emilia Romagna into northern Tuscany. Originating in Fidenza, known for its duomo of pink stone, you cross the Cisa Pass and finish in Aulla, an important pilgrimage stop at the confluence of the Aulella and Magra Rivers. Total 127.5km approx.


STAGE 5: Aulla to San Miniato

Originating in the historical region of Lunigiana, an area of great gastronomy, lush green meadows and waterfalls, your walking tour along the Via Francigena takes you from Aulla at the foot of the Apennines, along the coast into northern Tuscany and the medieval village of San Miniato. Total 130km approx.


STAGE 6: San Miniato to San Quirico

Explore the central belt of iconic Tuscan landscapes and a distinctive trio of medieval towns; Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni. This stage of the Via Francigena takes you from the charming village of San Miniato to San Quirico situated on the northern edge of the Valley d’Orcia. Total 125km approx.


STAGE 7: San Quirico to Monte Fiascone

Following in the footsteps of pilgrims from the Middle Ages this section of the Via Francigena begins in the heart of the Tuscan countryside and finishes in the medieval town of Montefiascone. Encounter small hamlets and villages atop conical hills and set within the distinctive undulating countryside. Total 126km approx.


STAGE 8: Montefiascone to Rome

The final stage of the Via Francigena takes you from the hill top town of Montefiascone to Rome, the eternal city. During your journey along this ancient pilgrimage route you will follow trails through the classic Italian landscapes and rolling hills of Umbria and Lazio. Total 121km approx.

Accommodation

On your 49 night, 50 day Full Italian Via Francigena self-guided walking tour in Italy you will stay in a variety of accommodations. The properties range from private rooms in pilgrim's hostels, 2, 3 and 4* hotels as well as B&Bs and guesthouses. At times you will be staying in remote towns and villages, therefore the accommodation in these places are the best that these particular areas have to offer.


Alternate accommodation

During the high season you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. If those listed are unavailable the alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.


Additional nights

We are able to book additional nights for you at the start, end and during your tour, to allow for rest days; please contact us in order to make arrangements.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Solo walkers are also welcome and again a supplement is payable.


Meals

Daily breakfasts are included. Breakfasts are usually continental or Italian-style with a choice of breads, 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 32 dinners if you wish.

Time of Year

This trip is best enjoyed from mid-June onwards as the first section crosses the Alps and snow can still be on the ground up until July. Summer is a wonderful time to do the trip but it will be hot in August. Autumn is a lovely time of time of year as the colours start to change and the heat of the summer has subsided. Available from mid-June to mid-September.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Solo walkers are also welcome and again a supplement is payable.


Grade & Terrain

This walking holiday is graded moderate. However the daily distances vary quite a lot between 11 and 32km, so you must be capable of also walking the longer distances. You need to be in good physical shape to complete the full Via Francigena as there are also some elevation gains and losses along the way.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

You will also be provided with detailed route notes and maps to help you find your way. As always when walking you should be able to read a map and use a compass in case of bad weather. The trail is also marked by the official red and white signs of the Via Francigena, which have a picture of a yellow pilgrim on them. However these waymarks will not appear all along the way but intermittently. 


Unlike many of the more well-established Caminos, the Via Francigena has seen a relatively recent resurgence in popularity, meaning that trail marking is intermittent (not every region has invested in consistently waymarking the trail), and you should be confident in navigating with a compass and map, as well as using the route notes that we will provide you with.  A few  of the original sections of the Via Francigena are now (fairly busy) roads, and where necessary you may either follow these roads for a short time, or divert away from the traditional route to enjoy a more relaxed walk.


Baggage Transfers

Baggage transfers are not included as standard, however you can pay an additional fee for this service. If you choose to include baggage transfers we request that you have only one piece of luggage per person and it should weigh only 20kg.


Travel Insurance

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.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. 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, and a day pack.

Getting to Bourg St Pierre


The best airport to fly into in order to reach Bourg St Pierre is Geneva.
This airport is served by many airlines from the UK and from further
afield. From Geneva Airport it is possible to take a direct train to
Martigny and then a bus from the train station in Martigny to Bourg St
Pierre. You will find information regarding train schedules and fares at
the Trenitalia website.



Departing from Rome

It is best to fly out of Rome. There are two main airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino. To get to Fiumicino Airport you can either take the Leonardo Express train which leaves Rome
Termini and takes 30 minutes or you can take the Sabina-Fiumicino line
which stops at every station but costs less. To get to Ciampino Airport take train from Rome Termini to Ciampino Train Station and then a bus from here to the airport.

Included

  • 49 Nights accommodation.
  • 49 Breakfasts.
  • Detailed maps and routes notes and a comprehensive information pack.
  • Transfers where mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Emergency telephone assistance from our team in Italy and our UK office if required.

Excluded

  • Travel to Bourg St Pierre and from Rome.
  • Public transportation where mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Lunches & dinner.
  • Drinks & snacks.
  • Any additional travel en route, should you wish to miss a day's walking.
  • Baggage transfers.
  • Personal equipment.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Mountain rescue / emergency assistance.

Extras

  • Additional nights before, after or during the trip.
  • Baggage Transfers.
  • Half board supplement (32 dinners).
  • Single room supplement if single room required.
  • Solo traveller supplement (if applicable).

We are often asked the following questions and we hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

This walking trip is graded moderate to strenuous and involves daily distances of anywhere between 11 and 32km. You need to be in excellent physical shape to complete this full, 50-day Italian section of the Via Francigena.  You must be a regular (long distance) walker and we strongly recommend that you undertake a fitness/training programme of hikes prior to embarking on this type of walking tour.

When is the best time of year?

Due to passing over the Alps during the first week of the trip, you will need to start from mid-June onwards as the ground can be covered in snow earlier in the year. Summer can be quite hot for walking but Autumn is a fantastic time.

How far in advance do I need to book?

Certain sections of the Via Francigena, such as the start and end of the trail, are very popular. Therefore it is better to book earlier rather than later to ensure bookings at the hotels and B&B's

What personal equipment do I need?

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.

Which is the best airport?

The best airport to fly into in order to reach Bourg St Pierre is Geneva. This airport is served by many airlines from the UK and from further afield. From Geneva Airport it is possible to take a direct train to Martigny and then a bus from the train station in Martigny to Bourg St Pierre. You will find information regarding train schedules and fares at the Trenitalia website.

It is best to fly out of Rome. There are two main airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino. To get to Fiumicino Airport you can either take the Leonardo Express train which leaves Rome Termini and takes 30 minutes or you can take the Sabina-Fiumicino line which stops at every station but costs less. To get to Ciampino Airport take train from Rome Termini to Ciampino Train Station and then a bus from here to the airport.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

You may be able to take public transport or taxis onto the next accommodation, please check with the accommodation provider or our local partner as they are best able to give you up to date advice. 

How do the baggage transfers work?

If you choose the option of baggage transfers (additional charge) your bags will be transferred between your accommodations. Just ask your hosts where to leave your bags in the morning and they'll get picked up. Please limit your bags to one per person of 20kgs.

amazing camino!!

5

We walked 3/4 of the Via Francigena, and I have put my reviews in at each section, as the sections are quite varied in terms of scenery, accommodations, and towns. This is a challenging walk, with lots of up and down (we did not walk section 2 and 3). The Alps and Appenines are amazing. Tuscany is amazing. The section through Carrera is not so great (although Lucca is beautiful). Most of the pilgrims we met were walking a week at a time and breaking it up over several years. Because we are from Canada and it takes so long to fly, expense, and jet lag, we did most of it in one go. The Via Francigena itself is very well waymarked. This 'tour' takes you off trail sometimes, and then the directions are not so great. Accommodations are, for the most part, very good. Breakfasts are, for the most part, very good (although there are a few places that only feed you twinkies and coffee in the morning...be prepared with extra food). Lots of amazing history, architecture, churches, and of course....food and wine along the way. Of our 7 weeks of holiday, we had only 4 rainy days (we went in sept and oct). Took some rest days (San Gimignano, Radicofani, and Lucca were favourites). Best places to stay were: Agriturismo La Vrille in Chambave, Berceto: La Casa dei Nonni, Castelnuovo dell'Abate: B&B Il Borghetto, Proceno: Il Castello. Best food: Agriturismo La Vrille, Proceno, Il Castello. Best breakfast: Agriturismo La Vrille and Antica Sosta in San Quirico d'Orcia. I've done lots of walking trips, and in terms of scenery, this can't be beat. We also stopped to get our 'testimonial' certificate at the Vatican at the end of the trip. That was quite an amazing experience as well (info to be found in Cicerone guide of the Via Francigena).

alex

canada

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Full Italian Via Francigena: Bourg St Pierre-Rome

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