Full Italian Via Francigena: Bourg St Pierre-Rome50 Days & 49 Nights 5 Read 1 reviews
- Walking the Italian Via Francigena, one of Europe's great pilgrimages
- 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
- Follow trails through classic Italian landscapes and visit exquisite towns
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent holiday.
Pilgrim Trail | You will follow a historic pilgrimage trail, in the footsteps of generations of travellers
This trip is suitable for:
Ideal if you have an interest in:
- Personal Growth
- Historical Journeys
Grade & Terrain
This walking holiday is graded moderate overall. However the daily distances vary quite a lot between shorter and a lot longer ones, 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.
You will 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.
During your 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.
During the high season, you might be booked into alternative accommodations that 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.
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.
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.
- Overnights in a variety of accommodations
- Baggage transfers
- 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
- Travel to and from the start and finish points
- Public transportation where mentioned in the itinerary
- Lunches & dinners
- 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
- Additional nights before, after or during the trip
- Half board supplement
When To Go
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.
Getting to the Start
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 Swiss National Rail or Trenitalia website.
Getting from the End
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.
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 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.
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.
Your required fitness level will depend upon which section of the Via Francigena you choose to do. Please read the grade and terrain section of each individual section or the full walk to give you an idea of the walking on that particular itinerary.
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&Bs
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.
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.
You will be asked to leave your luggage at reception or in a dedicated room before setting off and your luggage will be returned to you before 5 PM the same day in the new location. Please keep your bag to a minimum of 20 kg in weight.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive in Bourg-Saint-Pierre
Begin your walking tour in the Valais region of Switzerland. Bourg St Pierre is the gateway to Italy from Switzerland and is full of charm and history.
Explore the newly restored mill and ancient buildings, such as the Church of St Pierre with its Romanesque tower and the medieval hospice which sheltered pilgrims walking along the Via Francigena in the Middle Ages.
This family run hotel-restaurant is located in a stunning location on Route Grand-Saint-Bernard.
This morning begins with a sustaining breakfast in your hotel before setting off on today’s challenging walk which has a 750m elevation gain. Not only will you cross the border from Switzerland into Italy, but you will also be walking up to the Great St Bernard Pass, situated at 2473m. The mountain scenery here is stunning and at times you will be completely immersed in nature with only the sound of the wind and perhaps a cow bell or two.
Upon reaching the pass you will see an historical hostel which was founded by Agostinian Friars more than 1,000 years ago. It was at one time a hospice and famous for its St Bernard dogs that would rescue travellers in distress. Specifically bred to traverse deep snow and sniff out those who were lost, the St Bernard is still used in the same capacity today.
Built in 1933, this famous hotel offers warm hospitality and fantastic cuisine.
Sip your morning coffee or tea whilst taking in views of the crown of high mountains surrounding the pass and the lovely crystal clear tarn next to your hotel. Walk along the trail in the direction of St Rhémy en Bosses, a place well known for the production of ham which is cured with mountain herbs.
Descend into Etroubles, a medieval village and where Roman soldiers had their winter headquarters. It is also situated in the Great San Bernardo Valley and you may sit on the terrace of your hotel and taste the food cooked by their expert chef, surrounded by breath-taking views.
Peaceful hotel with colourful flower garden.
Your walk today takes you along the “rus”, ancient irrigation channels built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Engineering masterpieces, they were built to provide irrigation on the dry, south-facing slopes and utilized water from melting glaciers. Some of these “rus” are still in use today, but many were abandoned. Follow these channels until they give way to a steep downhill trail into Aosta.
The town of Aosta is the principal town of the Aosta Valley and where the inhabitants speak both French and Italian. Here you will see that the ancient town walls of Augusta Prætoria Salassorum are still almost intact in their entirety. The Roman Forum also remains and this building is annexed to the cathedral that was built in the 4th century, but replaced in the 11th century with a new edifice.
Founded in 1982 next to the Roman bridge, on the structure of an ancient roman building along the Via Francigena, now a comfortable hotel.
For the next few days, as well as following the Via Francigena, you will also follow the “Chemins de Vignobles” a wine trail that takes you through local vineyards. In the past this area was heavily fortified by castles and today you will encounter three, Quart at the highest point, Nus, located on a cliff and Fenis at the bottom of the valley.
This evening you will stay in an agriturismo just outside Chambave which produces its own wine, such as Chambave Muscat. Enjoy dinner here made with their own produce and wines from their own vines.
Beautiful sustainable, working farm with guest rooms situated along the Via Francigena.
On the Via Francigena route today you continue to be surrounded with a backdrop of high mountains and you will also pass vineyards and orchards. The River Evançon flows through the bottom of the valley whilst the imposing and majestic Verrès Castle stands at the entrance to a side valley called Val d’Ayas. This fortress has walls that are 2m thick and can only be reached on foot.
Tonight will be spent in a hotel in the small town of Verrès overlooked by pretty hills and located close to the Parco Regionale del Mont Avic.
Giovanni and Emanuela welcome you to their fantastic restaurant with guest rooms, family-run since 1984.
Today you will discover many interesting sights, starting with the Echallod Bridge, built by the Romans and which spans over the Dora Baltea River enabling you and other pilgrims and travellers to continue on the road to Rome. Next see the Bard Fortress which now houses the Museum of the Alps, and originally built in the 10th century. This afternoon you will begin to follow an original consular Roman road called the Via delle Gallie.
Enter Pont St Martin, your destination for this section of Via Francigena and a pretty village located on the border between Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont. Famed for its Roman bridge of the same name you may wander through the streets and appreciate this strategic gateway to the Alps from Italy.
The hotel offers services designed to accommodate the best possible customer. The traditional and international flavors of our restaurant are also available.
On your walk this morning you truly experience this region’s beauty as you pass through little villages and wooded hills. As you cross over the border into Piedmont you will follow the banks of the Dora Baltea River and pass by Montalto Dora Castle, a huge fortress with magnificent towers that dates back to the 12th century.
In many of the towns and villages you pass there are important remains from both medieval and Roman times. Your destination today, Ivrea, used to be protected by its medieval walls and divided into “rioni”, which were town quarters in Roman times. This town also has a man-made canal constructed in 1498 and stretching all the way to Vercelli. It was built in order to irrigate the surrounding rice crops. You may also wish to visit Ivrea Cathedral, originally a church that was built in the 4th century, and in 1000 AD was rebuilt in the Romanesque style.
In a prestigious building, with the greatest attention paid to every detail, spazio[bianco] offers six rooms with an excellent quality/price ratio, besides a welcoming and professional management, a relaxing ambiance and the highest standard of services.
Upon departing from Ivrea you will walk through open countryside and the interesting little village of Bollengo before passing by many small lakes created during the glacial era.
The second part of your walking day offers exquisite views over the valley and before long the crystalline Lake Viverone glistening in the distance. The lake is also an important archaeological site and during the Bronze Age villages made of stilt houses were present here.
Fortuitously your hotel this evening is located on the shores of the lake. Enjoy dinner “al fresco” on the terrace with the mountain peaks on the horizon.
The Royal Hotel is a modern building situated in Lido di Viverone.
You are able to appreciate this stunning lake even more this morning as the route takes you alongside. Perhaps you will see local wildlife such as coots, grebes and mallards. Continue on through a wooded area before heading over one of the last hills before you reach the Padana Plain below, also known as the Po River Plain. This area stretches 400 miles wide in an east-west direction and is an important agricultural area in Italy.
Santhia, where you will spend the night, is at an important junction on the Via Francigena as it is where two branches join; one that goes to the Gran San Bernardo Pass and the other towards the Susa Valley, the longest in Italy. You are now in the heart of Piedmont.
The Vittoria Hotel offers its guests all the necessary amenities to make your stay relaxing and peaceful.
The initial stage of your walk today takes you along tracks through the flat plains and in sight of an expanse of fields water-logged for the rice cultivation. There is a complex network of water channels as rice has been cultivated here for over 300 years and the countryside is broken up by large brick red farmhouses, framed by rows of poplars. In the spring the flooding of the paddy fields results in an area that resembles a large lake, which on clear days mirrors the snow-capped Alps.
Settle into your B&B in the town of Vercelli with its medieval Cavour Square surrounded by ancient houses. Be sure to visit the Basilica of St Andrew, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
This recently refurbished flat is located in a small and cosy inside garden near the station and all the main monuments. Very quiet dspite its central location and is made up of two bedrooms, a living room and a bathroom.
Walk out of Vercelli and through the countryside before arriving at the banks of the River Sesia. As you cross the border from Piedmont into Lombardy you are getting closer and closer to Rome. The area here becomes wooded and you will also walk through the village of Palestro, which is located on the banks of the river. Here you leave the river behind and make your way to Robbio, a place that was settled in Neolithic times. Take the train (15 mins, payable locally) to Mortara, with its historical palio dating back to 1400.
Fantastic hotel and restaurant with comfortable rooms and friendly service.
You will see the countryside of the Pavese Plain where farmhouses dot the way along the wide cultivated fields. This area is also the home of the local delicacy “Salame d’Oca” (goose salami). The raising of geese is a very ancient tradition here and was inspired by the numerous Jewish communities in the Lomellina region as this was an alternate to pork products. This is a good area to raise geese due to the widespread availability of natural fresh water springs and the presence of abundant tender grasses.
Located by the ancient pilgrimage route of Via Francigena, Il Pino is set in a building from 1890 with frescoed ceilings.
The beginning of today’s walk takes you over a fertile plain with countryside that is stunning in its raw simplicity. The landscape here does not have the majesty of the Alps or the vivid colours of Tuscany, but you will be inspired by the unobstructed shifts of light as the day progresses. This area is a major producer of rice, so you will walk alongside many rice paddies with farms standing like oasis amidst them.
Upon reaching the Ticino River you then walk along its wide, sandy banks and perhaps stop for lunch in a riverside café. Your destination is Pavia which has a famous covered bridge and also possesses an incredible array of artistic and cultural treasures which we recommend that you explore. Of particular interest is the Duomo and the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro.
Hotel Excelsior has a central location in the Railway Station Square, just a short walk from the historical centre of Pavia. Our peaceful rooms either overlook the square or a private courtyard.
Upon departing Pavia you continue to follow the Ticino River, which is a left-bank tributary of the Po River. The origin of this river is in Switzerland and it flows through Lake Maggiore before entering into Italy. Remain on the trail alongside the river for a while before walking through pretty woods and fields. Take a break and visit the Castle of Belgioioso en route, an ancient neo-classical residence built in the 14th century by Gian Galeazzo Visconti.
Arrive in Santa Cristina. From here your hosts in Miradolo Terme will come and pick you up.
Located in Miradolo Terme, just a 5-minute walk from the thermal baths, Albergo Castello offers a spacious garden, a restaurant, and rooms with a private bathroom. All rooms in this family-run hotel are decorated in a classic style.
This morning you transfer to Lambrinia (20 mins), which takes its name from the River Lambro, your path then crosses the River Po. Amazingly this is the very same place where Sigeric the Serious crossed many thousands of years ago! He was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 990 to 994 and his return pilgrimage along the Via Francigena from Rome to Canterbury is recorded in a manuscript in the British Museum in London.
As you start your walk to Piacenza, encounter the Castle of Chignolo Po, an impressive brick structure which gave shelter to pilgrims during medieval times.
You have now crossed the border from the Lombardy region into Emilia Romagna, area of fertile plains, hills and mountains. At times it is necessary to avoid the official Via Francigena route and walk along routes that have been chosen for their scenic beauty and lack of traffic.
A lovely B&B right in the heart of the city with great views over the Piazza de Cavalli. Clean and comfortable rooms and friendly, helpful hosts.
Continue your route on the Via Francigena. Take time to first explore the Piazza Cavalli, to admire the facade of the town hall Il Gotico (dating from 1281) with its five pink marble arches. The Duomo di Piacenza, is avaluable example of Norther-Italian Romanesque architecture, with a Veronese pink marbel and gilted stone facade.
Today it is wise to avoid the official route as it runs along the extremely busy Via Emilia. Take the trail that runs parallel with it which will take you along the relaxing landscapes of the Po River plain. Towards the end of your walk today you will begin to encounter some undulating trails as you are now approaching the foothills of the Apennines. Reach Carpaneto, which is a small town set within these foothills.
The Hotel Val Vezzeno welcomes its guests in well-equipped rooms with television and autonomous heating. The rear garden has been turned into a relaxing corner with beach umbrellas and deck chairs for those who love reading.
A delightful shorter day of walking awaits as you travel through vineyard-covered hills and an area famed for its Colli Piacentini wines.
Arrive in Castell'Arquato, a charming and picturesque hilltop town which has some of the most imposing Romanesque churches on the whole of the Via Francigena such as St Mary’s. However, the masterpiece of the town is the fortress and its tower, up which you can climb for fantastic view over the surrounding countryside.
The perfect combination of art, culture, history, gourmet cuisine and first-class service makes Hotel Leon D’Oro the ideal destination for those travellers who want to combine luxury with the most authentic Italian hospitality.
Today's walk is along a peaceful and flat stretch of the Via Francigena, where you can contemplate your experiences of the previous days - the beautiful countryside, friendly people and great food you'll have experienced!
On arrival in Fidenza we recommend that you visit 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.
This morning a short bus transfer takes you to the beginning of the trail in Sivizzano where you begin your challenging days walk. Challenging because today you begin your climb to the Cisa Pass, situated at 1,040m it divides the Ligurian and Tuscan Apennines.
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!
A Pilgrim's hostel.
This morning we recommend that you take the time to visit the Church of Maria Assunta in the hamlet of Cassio before heading off along the trail. 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 Montelungo later this afternoon. Sip a much-needed and 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.
This afternoon arrive in Pontremoli, an interesting town which has an important museum full of primitive sculptures called "steles". It is worth visiting this museum and strolling through the streets of Pontremoli where you will find one of the largest castles in the area, built in 9th century. It is here where the little museum is housed. Pontremoli means “trembling bridge” and was so-called because of the importance of the bridge crossing the River Magra.
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.
During your walk today you will cross over into Liguria and walk along the final slopes of the Apennine Mountains before catching your first sight of the Mediterranean Sea glistening in the distance. Reach the quaint medieval village of Biloba which is situated on a hill a few miles south of Aulla and visit the Church of St Bartholomew home to beautiful Ligurian mosaics.
Continue along the trail to the ruins of Brina Castle and then begin your descent into Sarzana, your final destination for today and a town that has ancient origins and was first mentioned in the 10th century.
Located on the border between Liguria and Tuscany, close to sea and mountains. At the Vecchia Locanda B&B, the friendly owners Dino and Francesca will make you feel at home.
Walk past the ancient Sarzanello Fortress, at one time a bishop’s residence and then continue along trails with views to the Apuane Alps to your left. You are now in the Carrara area which provided the white marble from which Michelangelo sculptured his David. The mountains in the distance have white peaks, a result of the white marble and it seems as though they are snow-capped.
A lovely BB with pretty garden and comfortable rooms all with private bathroom.
Today’s walk is undulating as the trail is situated on the hillsides overlooking terraced vineyards, rather than along the coast. You will walk along quiet roads and trails, past river and streams, over stone bridges and through plenty of hamlets and villages. After a short train ride from Massa to Petresanta you continue on through beautiful forested mountainsides to arrive in Camaiore, situated just inland from the Versilian coast. This town’s growth in the Middle Ages was due to its location along the Via Francigena.
The hotel has 12 comfortable rooms. Every room has different characteristics and furnishings, with twentieth-century and liberty style furniture. All the rooms have air condition, a bathroom (shower), TV, telephone and safe.
Today leave the foothills of the Apuane Alps behind and take trails through pretty agricultural lands, woods and alongside streams. Initially you will be gradually walking up hill but then descend into a valley which eventually leads you into Lucca. Walk through the Serchio River Park before arriving in the old town centre.
Lucca is without question one of the highlights of your walking tour and is renowned for its Renaissance walls that are still intact. They are incredibly wide in some places and are used as a pedestrian promenade. Lucca was founded by the Etruscans but also occupied by the Romans and the rectangular street plan is a reflection of their design. The Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient Roman forum.
This delightful B&B has nine guest rooms, including two suites overlooking the city’s famous walls. All rooms feature a private bath and modern comforts: air conditioning, LCD satellite TV, fridge, wireless internet coverage and buffet breakfast service.
We advise to spend some of the morning in Lucca before setting off towards Altopascio as there is so much to see here and it is a delightful city to stroll around and explore. The Piazza San Michele is fringed by restaurants and cafés so this is a great place to stop for a cappuccino and soak in the atmosphere. Explore the wonderful Piazza Anfiteatro and Lucca’s major art museum, housed in the Villa Guinigi. Be sure to walk some or all of the city walls, which have a broad, tree-lined promenade.
This afternoon make your way along trails via the towns of Capannori and Porcari, both of which have pretty little churches. Your destination for the day is Altopascio which is known as the "town of bread", due to its bread-making traditions. Here you will find the Spedale, an infirmary which was in use during medieval times for pilgrims. There is an interesting church and bell tower in the centre of the town.
Please note that the majority of the walk today is along roads. Therefore if you prefer you can spend longer in Lucca and take a 15 minute train ride to Altopascio (payable locally).
Expect a warm welcome at this lovely hotel ideally situated on the Via Francigena. The rooms have been renovated and are equipped with private bathroom, telephone, TV with satellite channels and air conditioning.
Today you will walk along a short stretch of original medieval pavement before arriving at the Ponte a Cappiano, a fortified bridge built by Cosimo de’Medici in the 16th century. The pretty town of Fucecchio is located over the Arno River and once you have passed through (perhaps stopping for lunch in a local café) you will then head upwards into San Miniato, a medieval village set atop three small hills at the very centre of Tuscany. It occupies a strategic location, at the intersection of the Florence-Pisa and Lucca-Siena roads, hence its historical importance. During the Middle Ages there was a constant flow of both friendly and hostile armies, traders and travellers from near and far.
With rustic furnishings, air-conditioned apartments and rooms at the Agrituristica Cafaggio feature a seating area, satellite TV and private bathroom. The apartments have a kitchenette complete with a coffee machine, oven and electric kettle.
Today walk through stunning Tuscan landscapes and oak woods, which then give way to vineyards. Famous for its fine red chianti wines, such as tempranillo and sangiovese, if you are traveling in the spring and summer the vines will be in full bloom and if travelling in the autumn they will be deep reds and browns.
Combining almost perfect weather and soils that produce these world renowned wines, there is evidence to show that the Etruscans cultivated and even experimented with vines here. Along the route you can visit inside two interesting churches, Pieve di Coiano and Santa Maria a Chianni, the latter situated on the side of a valley and the former positioned close to Gambassi with a beautiful façade.
Arrive in Gambassi Terme, located on a hill 350m above sea level. The town which has been known for its production of glass since medieval times.
Irene and Marco welcome you to their inn with a friendly, familiar environment and typical country side hospitality.
Today’s walk is relatively short as this gives you time to explore San Gimignano this afternoon. Once again you will be walking through the gorgeous Chianti vineyards. Heading down the trail you initially pass by Riparotta and a bridge over the Rio Casciani. The trail undulates over a series of small hills and along a stretch called the Siene Val d’Elsa. Here you see the ruins of an old castle and the isolated Church of Santo Pietro which was mentioned in in 1109 as a place of worship by pilgrims.
Enjoy your first panorama of San Gimignano’s famed towers, built by wealthy local families to demonstrate their power in the 12th century. At one time there were 72 towers, but only 13 remain. Spend time this afternoon discovering this town, one of the most famous in Tuscany. Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Gimignano still retains its medieval atmosphere and it is a pleasure to wander through the narrow streets and soak up the ambience.
At B&B Il Pino you will get a warm welcome. The five bedrooms are located above the restaurant and are well equipped and comfortable.
Your walking today is along trails that are some of the most beautiful along the Via Francigena. First set off in the direction of Campiglia, a small hamlet surrounded by the characterful Tuscan countryside and continue onto Badia a Coneo, a gracious and remote church. Also pass through Abbey Island, a complex of mysterious medieval buildings. In the 11th century this island was surrounded by marshes, hence the fact that it is called an island.
You are now within sight of Monteriggioni, a village still completely surrounded by walls that are virtually intact. It will be a peaceful evening spent here as there is virtually no traffic.
The rooms at B&B in Piazza are located in the former Palazzo del podestà (city hall) in the beautiful fortified town of Monteriggioni, surrounded by the famous Chianti vineyards, lovely smelling cypress trees and only 10 minutes away from the city of Siena.
Once more this is a relatively short walking day which enables you to spend time exploring Siena this afternoon. Leaving behind the old town of Monteriggioni, walk along trails that take you to Montagnola and Cerbaia, a medieval village now in a neglected state. Walk through woods to the castles of the Chiocciola and Villa before arriving at Porta Camollia, the traditional access road on the Via Francigena into Siena.
Siena is a town well-known for its Palio horse race which occurs twice a year, its medieval buildings and the wonderful Piazza del Campo. Sit in an outdoor café within the piazza whilst viewing the medieval houses and buildings, particularly the Palazzo Publico and the Torre del Mangia, both architectural treasures.
This 3-star hotel is situated in Siena town centre. Built around the year 1870 as a NeoClassical villa and completely restored in 2004, it keeps its original style as well as its beautiful frescoed rooms. In its 48 rooms you find every kind of a comfort: bathtubs or showers, linen, hairdryer, safe, air conditioning/ central heating, telephone, satellite TV, and bedrooms with a Wi-Fi Internet connection.
Depart from Siena along the official Via Francigena road, the Porta Romana. The trail meanders through serene farmland, rolling hills and small hamlets criss-crossing the Via Cassia all the way. En route is the imposing medieval building, the Grancia di Cuna that served as a protected storage for food supplies in the Middle Ages and which offered hospitality to pilgrims and travellers.
Transfer from Grancia de Cuna to Buonconvento (this shortens the walk from 32km to a more manageable 18km).
Hotel Ghibellino is a modern 23 room three-star hotel in the centre of Buonconvento. It has an excellent reputation and the comfortable air-conditioned rooms are a relaxing haven.
En route to San Quirico d’Orcia you pass through Brunello vineyards there will the opportunity to visit a nice winery at Torrenieri. Cross the railway line and carry on through wineries and iconic landscapes to San Quirico, a delightful walled town. You have just completed this section of the Via Francigena and perhaps you would like to reward yourself with a glass of delicious Chianti in the medieval town square.
Located in a beautiful lake side setting just beyond the city walls of San Quirico, this hotel offers a cosy and intimate atmosphere. All 42 rooms are comfortable and well equipped. The hotel has a beautiful swimming pool and elegant gardens for you to enjoy.
The Valley d’Orcia has a distinctive landscape, topped by fortified towns and villages and interspersed with conical hills. This unique landscape was inspired by many Siennese artists and their paintings demonstrate the beauty of this area. Begin walking through these amazing scenes this morning along unpaved trails and roads. See lovely views of the Ripa d’Orcia Castle and gorge. The last stretch of your path climbs steadily through Brunello vineyards.
Today you will be walking along an older version of the Via Francigena as it bypasses the Sant Antimo Abbey, one of the most striking places in Tuscany. It is an elegant Romanesque edifice and remarkably you can still hear Gregorian chants being sung inside throughout the day.
A clean and comfortable B&B with all necessary amenities and services.
This morning you begin walking through the Crete Senesi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The grey clays here produce a very distinctive landscape of rolling hills in shades of brown, yellow and green. Pass sturdy brick farmhouses and cypress-lined roads all of which have inspired artists since the Middle Ages. For most of the day you will be walking along a ridge with incredible views. Later this afternoon arrive in the small hamlet of Rocca d’Orcia which is truly charming.
A clean and comfortable B&B with all necessary amenities and services.
Begin today’s walk in front of the little church of San Sebastiano and down to the little square of Cisterna. Make your way into the valley and through olive groves, clusters of oak trees and farmers fields. En route there will be perfect views of Monte Amiata. One of the most important stops on this pilgrimage route and a highlight of the tour.
Radicofani’s citadel comes into view from 10km away dramatically situated at the highest point of the town. It is located in the middle of the medieval quarter and known to have existed since 973 AD. Take the time to explore this fortress with its fantastic views over the nearby hills and valleys.
La Selvella is an old farmhouse which has been completely restored. Their farm produces organic olive oil, poultry and free range eggs. There is a lovely swimming pool situated at the front of the house.
Ponte a Rigo, your first destination today is surrounded once more by beautiful Tuscan scenery. This road set high above the valley was the official route until the 16th century when a bridge was built over the River Paglia. Close by is the Via Cassia an ancient route from Rome to northern Italy and along which many thousands of people travelled in the Middle Ages.
Proceno used to be situated on the border of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal States. For pilgrims arriving from the north this village provided their first encounter with the Papal States. As a result Proceno became an extremely important stop on the Via Francigena. Your accommodation was built during these times and is a rare example of a medieval fortification that has survived in its original state, and now converted into lodgings.
A stunning guesthouse located in beautiful, medieval, fortified surroundings. Clean and comfortable rooms with all necessary amenities and services. It also has a swimming pool.
You may wish to have an early start today as this is the longest day of walking. En route pass by Acquapendente named for a small stream that flowed down the hillside. In 1845 Charles Dickens walked along the Via Cassia and into Aquapendente which he describes in his writings. It was also the first stop in Italy in the travels of Saint Roch in the early 14th century. This saint supposedly spent several days in the hospital here curing plague victims.
One of today’s highlights is seeing Lago di Bolsena coming into view. Formed in the crater of a volcano this lake has crystal clear waters and is a jewel in the centre of Italy. It is here in Bolsena where you will find the St Cristina Church built in memory of the miracle that is at the origin of the Catholic celebration Corpus Domini. Spend tonight in a charming hotel on the shores of the lake.
A lovely 3* hotel set within a country park in serene and calm surroundings. Has all necessary amenities and services.
Walk along the crest of hills that surround the eastern side of the lake with great views of the Cimini Mountains and the lake itself. Pass through woodlands and farmers' fields before arriving in Montefiascone, your final destination for today and for the week.
Spend time here discovering the wonderful frescoes of San Flaviano, many of which are attributed to unknown Sienese painters. Also visit the Fortress of the Popes, an imposing building which dominates Montefiascone’s skyline.
Hotel Urbano V is situated in a very tranquil position, in perfect balance with the architecture of the historical centre, glorious land of the famous wine "Est!Est!!Est!!!". Completely restored in June 2002, it is one of the most ancient palaces in town, where noble families and popes have lived since the XIV century.
The trail that you are following today takes you on a plain that divides Lake Bolsena from the Cimini Mountains. A great highlight is encountering the Bagnaccio thermal pools. Don’t forget to pack a swimming suit so that you can take a break here. The pools are steamy and milky green and are the result of a natural volcanic hot spring. The Romans used to bathe here and little has changed at this site for 2,000 years.
Arrive in Viterbo, the best preserved medieval town in Lazio and the 13th century residence of the popes.
Elegant and well kept, the Mini Palace Hotel welcomes you in classic and contemporary rooms, with modern comforts and services to make your stay in a 4 star hotel in Viterbo a pleasant one.
On this part of the Via Francigena you will follow the route that takes you past Lake Vico which is nestled in the Cimini Hills that rise up from the plains. It is a beautiful and unspoilt area full of mature oak woodlands that drop down to the crystal clear lake. In medieval towns pilgrims also took this route to avoid a marshy plain where the risk of getting malaria was very high.
Once you are past Lake Vico spend the night in Caprarola whose countryside is dominated by the Renaissance mansion of Villa Farnese, originally a fortress.
La Rocca is located in the historical center of Caprarola, at the foot of the majestic palace-fortress built by the Farnese family in the sixteenth century.
Depart from Caprarola and follow a trail which traverses the summit ridges of the Cimini Hills with beautiful views everywhere you turn. These volcanic hills are densely wooded and part of the Antiapennine range.
As you approach Sutri you can see that it is situated picturesquely and dramatically on a tuff hill. During Roman times it occupied a commanding position on the road to Etruria and you will be able to discover its amazing Roman ruins, specifically the Roman amphitheatre which was carved out of the tuff rock, the Etruscan necropolis’s which have again been formed out of the rock and the Mithraem, a place of worship, which has now been converted into the Church of Santa Maria del Parto and has amazing frescoes. Interestingly Sutri is also situated along the Via Cassia, a road linking Rome with northern Italy and at certain stretches you will walk along this ancient route too.
Cozy and comfortable hotel is situated in the historical center of the ancient city of Sutri, while maintaining a beautiful view of the countryside.
Today includes walks through fields and past rivers and impressive waterfalls, such as Monte Gelato which is a great place to relax, swim and have a break. Continue to follow the trail which becomes a flagged Roman road and which eventually leads you to Campagnano di Roma, first mentioned in 1076. As you approach you will see it rising above the landscape.
This Hotel is located in Camps Benigni Di Roma, a typical town of Lazio, which is close to the lakes of Bracciano and Martignano. It’s almost entirely surrounded by the Park of Veii and the Monti Sabatini volcanic complex.
On your route today pass the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sorbo which is dramatically positioned on a rocky spur overlooking the Sorbo Valley and then pass the interesting Etruscan ruins of Veii which in the 6th century was the greatest centre for the fabrication of terra-cotta sculptures in Etruria. In its heyday Veii was as big as Athens and had a population of about 100,000 inhabitants. Spend time here exploring the ruins before continuing on to Isola Farnese, the location of your stay tonight.
The hotel is situated on the Via Cassia between the residential areas of La Storta, Olgiata and La Giustiniana and framed by the enchanting Medieval Castle of Isola Farnese, a well-known historical settlement from the 13th century, which overlooks the even more known Etruscan archaeological site of the city of Veio.
From Isola Farnese you follow the authentic route on the Via Francigena along the Via Trionfale. Although this is the official route please note that you will be walking through the suburbs of Rome so it will be quite noisy with lots of traffic. If you are not particular about taking the authentic route you have two other choices, the first is to take a train to Rome, or a transfer can be offered (with an extra cost) to the beginning of the Via Appia Antica, which you can follow into Rome, although it does finish a few kilometres from the centre.
Should you follow the Via Trionfale into Rome you will also walk through two major parks, the Insugherata and Mt Mario. It is amazing when you behold the sight of central Rome with it’s many iconic buildings and particularly St Peter’s which you will see from the top of the 139m Mount Mario on the north western side of the city. It’s a great place to sit and have your packed lunch before walking along the Viale Angelico to complete your journey.
The Papa Vista Relais guest house has recently opened and are delighted to welcome travellers and pilgrims alike to the Eternal City of Rome and to the Holy City of the Vatican. With just six intimate, cosy and delicately fashioned guest rooms, they hope to offer accommodation like no other in Rome – a unique blend of top quality surroundings in a perfect location at the greatest value for money possible.
After breakfast your walking holiday will come to an end. See the Travel Info section for some useful details for your onward travel.
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