Full Italian Via Francigena: Bourg St Pierre-Rome
- Walking the Italian Via Francigena, one of Europe's great pilgrimages from the Alps to Rome
- Follow trails through classic Italian landscapes and visit exquisite towns
- Taste regional specialties: wine, pasta, cured meats, cheeses, and gelato
- Becoming immersed in the culture and history of each region
- Experience aspects of Italy that are missed by other travellers
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive in Bourg-Saint-Pierre
Begin your walking tour in the Valais region of Switzerland. Bourg-Saint-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 Saint 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 is in a great location for the Great Saint Bernard pass. It has rooms comfortably equipped with television, radio, Wi-Fi, minibar or kettle, safe, bath or shower and private WC. The hotel has a spa with a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and relaxation room, all of which are free to use for hotel guests. There is also a gift shop, restaurant, café and sun terrace to take in the mountain views from.
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 Swiss alpine walk. You will be walking up to the Great St Bernard Pass, situated at 2,470m. This is one of, if not the most, iconic walks on the whole of the Via Francigena route and the path has served travellers and pilgrims for over 2,000 years. 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 cowbell or two. You will walk along Lac des Toules reservoir with its mighty dam and floating solar panels. You may even spot marmots along the way.
Upon reaching the pass you will see a historical hostel, L’Hospitalet, which was founded by Augustinian 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, St Bernard dogs are still used in the same capacity today. Chance to visit the Hospice Museum and the adjacent kennel whilst here.
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. In comparison to yesterday’s uphill climb today the walk crosses the border from Switzerland into Italy and descends out of the mountains and into the valley.
Walking 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. This is a good place to take a break before continuing the descent into Etroubles, a medieval village where Roman soldiers had their winter headquarters. The main street of Via Deffeyes is an open-air art gallery displaying sculptures from artists around the world. It is situated in the Great San Bernardo Valley. This evening you can sit and taste the regional cuisine, whilst surrounded by the mountains.
Peaceful hotel with colourful flower garden.
Today’s walk follows the ‘rus’, ancient irrigation channels built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Engineering masterpieces, they provided irrigation on the dry, south-facing slopes and utilised 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. 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.
This locally owned hotel in the heart of Aosta brings modern lodging to the mountains. Alpine style isn't just an aesthetic after all, it's a way of life. Bedrooms are equipped with a LED TV, free Wi-Fi, hairdryer, minibar and safe. The hotel has a spa (additional entrance fee applies). It has a whirlpool tub, Finnish sauna, Turkish stem bath, relaxation room and ice waterfall and emotional shower. Massages are also available; advance booking is recommended.
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, that you can see from a distance.
This evening with dinner why not sample one of the locally produced wines such as Chambave Muscat.
***Depending on the time of year you travel, accommodations in Chambave sometimes adopt a 3 night minimum booking policy. If this is the case on your requested date, you will be booked into your accommodation in Aosta for an additional night***
Located a short distance outside Chambave, this small hotel has a restaurant with terrace, bar and lovely garden to relax in. There is Wi-Fi access throughout the property. Bedrooms are decorated in a traditional style.
The route continues to be surrounded by a backdrop of high mountains and you will pass by vineyards and orchards. Near the beginning of today’s walk on the hillside above, Cly Castle can be seen from a distance. This is the first of many castles that can be seen along the route today. 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 2 metres thick and can only be reached on foot.
Tonight, will be spent in the small town of Verrès overlooked by the hills and located close to the Parco Regionale del Mont Avic.
Located on the edge of Mount Avic Natural Park in the town of Verrès, Relais St Gilles offers comfortable air-conditioned rooms. A buffet breakfast is available each morning in the sunny dining room. The 16th-century Castle Verrès is just a 15-minute walk away.
There are many interesting sights to discover today, starting with the Echallod Bridge, built by the Romans and which spans the Dora Baltea River enabling you and other pilgrims and travellers to continue on the road to Rome. Next, see Bard Fortress which houses the Museum of the Alps, and was originally built in the 10th century. The town of Bard has been voted ‘one of the most beautiful in Italy’ due to its houses with frescoed facades. This afternoon you will begin to follow an original consular Roman road called the Via Delle Gallie. Passing through Donnas this town is famous for its vineyards and it’s possible to visit a winery whilst here.
Enter Pont Saint 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. Take a wander through the streets and appreciate this strategic gateway to the Alps.
The hotel offers services designed to accommodate the best possible customer. The traditional and international flavors of our restaurant are also available.
This walk showcases this region’s beauty as you pass through little villages and wooded hills. Crossing over the border into Piedmont the path follows the banks of the Dora Baltea River and passes by Montalto Dora Castle, a huge fortress with magnificent towers that date back to the 12th century.
In many of the towns and villages, there are important remains from both medieval and Roman times. The 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. There’s the opportunity 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 Ivrea the walk goes through open countryside and passed the biggest moraine in Europe (the debris left by a melted glacier) and many small lakes created during the glacial era. Before reaching the interesting little village of Bollengo where it’s possible to visit the renovated Church of San Pietro.
The second part of the walk 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. It’s possible to spot birdlife such as coots, grebes and mallards. Perhaps have dinner overlooking the lake this evening.
The Royal Hotel is a modern building situated in Lido di Viverone.
Leaving the peaceful shores of Lake Viverone and the town centre this morning, the path heads through a wooded area and over one of the last hills before reaching 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, is 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.
This small hotel offers a warm welcome and is often frequented by pilgrims walking along the Via Francigena. It has a restaurant, and bedrooms are equipped with a TV, and air conditioning.
The initial stage of the walk today goes along tracks through the flat plains and in sight of an expanse of fields water-logged for 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 red-brick 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.
In Vercelli explore its medieval Cavour Square surrounded by ancient houses. Be sure to visit the Basilica of St Andrew, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
This bed and breakfast is in the historical centre of Vercelli in a quiet neighbourhood. It is a short walk away from Vercelli Train Station. Breakfast is served on the terrace or in the breakfast room. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Each bedroom is decorated in a contemporary style and includes a private bathroom, an LCD TV, air conditioning, safe, and minibar.
Walk from Vercelli through the countryside and arrive at the banks of River Sesia. Crossing the border from Piedmont into Lombardy you are getting closer and closer to Rome. The area here becomes wooded and the walk goes through the historic village of Palestro, which is located on the banks of the river. Leaving the river behind and the route continues to Robbio, a place that was settled in Neolithic times.
Take the train from Robbio to Mortara (15 minutes, fare payable locally) to reach the overnight stop.
If you are keen to walk from Robbio to Mortara, it is possible to add a second night in Mortara. In this case, you would walk from Vercelli to Robbio, then take the train to Mortara as usual. The next day you would take the train back to Robbio and walk to Mortara (distance: 14km/9 mi, ascent 6m/descent 14m, route instructions are provided in the Mac Adventure App). If this is of interest, please let us know at the time of booking and we will be happy to provide a quote for you.
Fantastic hotel and restaurant with comfortable rooms and friendly service.
Walking through the flat countryside of the Pavese Plain where farmhouses dot the way along the wide cultivated fields and rice paddies. There are barely any trees and the ‘cavi’ irrigation waterways divide up the landscape. This area is 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 alternative to pork products. This is a good area to raise geese due to the widespread availability of natural freshwater 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.
Today’s walk begins passing over a fertile plain with the 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 the unobstructed shifts of light as the day progresses are inspiring. This area is another major producer of rice, the route follows alongside many rice paddies with farms standing like an oasis amidst them.
Upon reaching the Ticino River walking along its wide, sandy banks and perhaps stopping for lunch in one of the two riverside cafés. The Via Francigena joins up with the E1 trail today to follow the along the riverbanks and through Ticino Park. The Ticino River is a distinctive shade of blue due to the long time it spends purifying in Lake Maggiore before making its way here.
The destination is Pavia which has a famous covered bridge, Ponte Coperto, which the route enters via. Originally constructed in the 14th century, today’s bridge is a modern copy, due to the original being destroyed by bombing in World War II. As well as the bridge there are an incredible array of artistic and cultural treasures to explore in Pavia. 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.
Leaving the city of Pavia the walk goes through the familiar terrain of the cultivated plains, never straying far from the Ticino River, which is a tributary of the Po River. In medieval times this area would have looked quite different. The river was wider and much of the land was inaccessible marshes. The monks of Santa Cristina helped to cultivate the land and turn it into the fertile plains that are present today.
Interesting architectural ruins can be spotted along the route, mainly religious buildings such as the majestic façade of Saint Michele in Pavia, to the little Church of Saint Giacomo della Cerreta. Perhaps, take a break and visit the Castle of Belgioioso, an ancient neo-classical residence built in the 14th century by Gian Galeazzo Visconti.
Arrive in Santa Cristina. A transfer will be arranged to the hotel just outside Miradolo di Terme.
If you would rather walk straight to your hotel just outside Miradolo di Terme, please let us know at the time of booking. This will add an additional 7kms/4 mi to today’s walk and only the first 4.3kms of this are on the Via Francigena route. (Ascent 37m/descent 5m, route instructions are provided in the Mac Adventure App).
Cozy rooms and bungalows host those who want to spend a weekend of relaxation, sport and good food. You will find the accommodation that best suits your character, choosing from various solutions, all made with special attention to color choices, atmosphere and comfort.
This morning you have 2 options: 1) you can walk straight from your hotel in Miradolo di Terme to Piacenza (longer option) or 2) take a short transfer to Lambrinia (20 minutes) to continue your walk to Piacenza.
Lambrinia 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.
You have now crossed the border from the Lombardy region into Emilia Romagna, an 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.
Please let us know what your preference would be so we can organize a transfer if necessary. Please note that we will not book the transfer automatically. The walking distances mentioned below include a 4km transfer by ferry.
Miradolo di Terme to Piacenza: 34km/21mi
Lambrinia to Piacenza: 24km/15mi
On the rare occasions that droughts cause the water levels on the River Po to be too low for the ferry to operate safely then you will be able to accompany the baggage transfer from your hotel to Calendasco, so begin the walk from there. The walk from Calendasco to Piacenza is 13.5kms/8mi (ascent/descent: 28m/24m).
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 a valuable example of Norther-Italian Romanesque architecture, with a Veronese pink marble and gilded 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 a 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.
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.
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.
Please note that we recommended walking from Avenza to Massa, then taking a train from Massa to Pietrasanta. From Pietrasanta you can rejoin the route to Camaiore. We suggest this route option to enhance your experience along the way.
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.
If you would like to walk from Massa to Camaiore (total distance: 38km/23.5 mi) we suggest you get in touch to add an extra night to walk this section over 2 days to make it more manageable.
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 uphill 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 spending some time 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.
Depending on your energy levels you can choose various distances for today's walk. Either start from your accommodation in Altopascio (29km), Galleno (22km), or Ponte a Cappiano (15km). Please let us know in advance if you would like to shorten this day.
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.
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 travelling 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 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 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.
Located in the heart of historic Strove, just outside of Monteriggioni, this small village, is a crossing point for pilgrims on the Via Francigena.
This friendly family-run hotel is set within an ancient Lombard fortress. The hotel has maintained many of its historic features such as the stone walls, wooden beamed ceilings, and the grand fireplace in the public lounge. Bedrooms have been decorated with antique furniture, but also offer modern comforts such as a TV, WiFi, and air conditioning.
Hotel Monteriggioni is a four-star hotel housed in a 17th century residence, in the heart of the medieval fortress town. The architecture, respecting the original style, perfectly integrates the hotel services with the exclusive environment of the Tuscan village. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, and garden.
If you set off early enough you will have enough time to spend exploring Siena this afternoon. One of the highlights of today's walk is passing through the old town of Monteriggioni, a beautiful sight. It is still completely surrounded by walls that are virtually intact and there is virtually no traffic inside. Continue 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 crisscrossing the Via Cassia all the way. En route is the imposing medieval building, the Grancia di Cuna which served as 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.
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 a long day of walking. 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.
It is possible to shorten the walk by starting in the village of Monterosi from where you continue to Campagnano di Roma (shortening the distance to 24km/15mi). Please let us know in advance if you would like to take this option so we can organise this for you.
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.
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 its 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.
If you are not particular about taking the authentic route from Isola Farnese to Rome, you have 2 other choices: 1) take a train to Rome (payable locally), or 2) take a transfer (at an additional cost) to Insugherata Park which is the beginning of the Via Appia Antica, which you can follow into Rome. This shortens the distance to 15km/9mi and offers a nicer experience.
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 & Transfers section for some useful details for your onward travel.
Other InformationIs it for me?
The great thing about this route is it takes you from the foot of the Alps right the way down to the ancient city of Rome and along the way you’ll see a huge range of different landscapes and architectural styles, as well of course as sampling the different tasty regional specialities and wines along the way. The Via Francigena is not as frequently walked by pilgrims as the Camino in Spain and Portugal and is therefore more appealing as a less crowded and less well-known walking route. This does however also mean that the services along the way aren’t as seamlessly setup for pilgrims as you will find on the Camino, and you won’t meet as many fellow other travellers making the same journey as you. The golden age of pilgrimages lasted for several centuries in Italy, but this ended with the Reformation and since then the environment and towns that the path travels through have changed significantly, and this can make the original route of the medieval pilgrims difficult to find. The route passes through rice paddies, through industrial heartlands, and into bustling towns and cities. We have therefore tried to keep as much to the original route as we can, but we have also taken some minor diversions in order to follow a more peaceful and scenic route where we feel it is the best option for you to have the most enjoyable experience. If you are joining us for the full Via Francigena route, then you might like to consider building in a few rest days to your itinerary to give your feet time to recover and also to savour some of the historic towns and cities and rolling countryside that you will be walking through. Stage 1 is only possible to book between the 15-Jun and 15-Sep due to the opening times of the mountain path used at the start of the walk, and the strong possibility of snow outside of these times. If you are travelling in June/early July or September, there may still be some snow during the alpine sections. The first few days of the walk is the trickiest due to the mountainous terrain. The different stages of this tour are rated between 'moderate' and 'moderate to strenuous'. Therefore overall, we have rated this as 'moderate to strenuous' with daily distances between 10.4 and 30.2 kms and the average being around 21 kms per day. You must be in very good physical shape to complete the whole Italian section of this pilgrimage route. It is possible to arrange for additional nights and rest days along the way. There are also options to extend some of the walks to stay on the true Via Francigena path and add additional days to the itinerary as part of this. If this is something you would like to do, then please speak to us when booking. This takes the total distance up to 1,066 kms / 662 mi for the full route.
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 traveler this tour would be suitable for is: 12 Years
This walking holiday is graded 'moderate to strenuous' overall. The daily distances vary quite a lot between shorter and longer walks, so you must be capable of managing 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, and a substantial about of mileage will be covered.
As this route tries to remain as true to the original pilgrimage route as possible, you will not only walk on trails and unpaved roads but also on asphalt part of the way. The ‘traditional’ walk is alongside some busy main roads, which is why we give other suggestions (especially near Rome). Please take care when walking along roads and always be mindful of other road users.
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 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 year as the colours start to change and the heat of the summer has subsided. This trip is available from mid-June to mid-September.
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.
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 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.
8 Days 7 NightsVaried walking taking in the foothills of the Apennines, the Apuane Alps, and the Tuscan countrysideHighlights
- Enjoy the variety of changing landscapes
- Lush green meadows, coastline and Tuscan hills
- Lucca with its ancient walls and architecture
8 Days 7 NightsCross the Great St Bernard Pass from the heart of the Swiss Alps into Italy and the Aosta ValleyHighlights
- Sublime views with a backdrop of mountain scenery
- The “Chemins de Vignobles” a local wine trail
- Wander the ancient streets of Aosta, a Roman city
8 Days 7 NightsWalk the most popular final stage of the Via Francigena from Montefiascone to RomeHighlights
- Arrive in Rome and explore its iconic sights
- The enchanting old quarter of Sutri
- Bathe in the thermal pools of Bagnaccio
8 Days 7 NightsFollow the Via Francigena in central Tuscany taking in iconic walks between medieval hilltop townsHighlights
- Iconic Tuscan cities of Siena and San Gimignano
- Relax at day's end with a glass of Chianti
- Follow ancient pilgrimage routes through Tuscany
8 Days 7 NightsWalk from central Tuscany to Val d'Orcia and the ochre-colored landscapes of the Crete SenesiHighlights
- Lago di Bolsena, a jewel in the heart of Italy
- Geologically unique terrain of the Crete Senesi
- Savouring a glass of local red Brunello wine
8 Days 7 NightsFollow the Via Francigena through Italy's Apennine Mountains and via Emilia Romagna towards TuscanyHighlights
- Walk through Italy's Apennine Mountains
- Fidenza and its famed duomo of pink stone
- Sampling delicious cheeses and meats of Parma
40 Days 39 NightsHike the world-famous Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.Highlights
- Enjoy wonderful camaraderie with other pilgrims.
- The varied landscapes of Northern Spain.
- Collect your Compostela from the Pilgrim Office.
38 Days 37 NightsWalk the Camino through France towards St Jean Pied de Port, absorbing local flavours and landscapesHighlights
- Explore lesser-trodden sections of the Camino
- See the shimmering Pyrenees Mountains
- Immerse yourself in rural Southwest France
33 Days 32 NightsWalk to Santiago through a lesser travelled side of Portugal, on the Camino Portugués central route.Highlights
- Walk the Camino Portugués from Lisbon to Santiago.
- Discover historical towns and cities.
- Arrive in Santiago and gaining your Compostela.
42 Days 41 NightsWalk from San Sebastian along the north coast of Spain to Santiago de Compostela.Highlights
- A dramatic, more challenging route to Santiago
- Contrasting fishing villages and modern cities.
- Gaining your Compostela in Santiago.