How to stay on track on the Via Francigena
The Via Francigena (VF), stretching from St Bernard's pass on the Swiss border to Rome, is becoming ever more popular with walkers as a pilgrim trail. Accordingly, a number of guide books have been written for it and it even now has its own official website. We recently spent a week walking a section of the VF in Tuscany and want here to share our experiences to help others who might also venture along this pilgrim trail.
Like the far more well-trodden French Way Camino pilgrim trail through northern Spain, the VF has developed into a single route through particular towns and villages, with a few alternative ways of getting from one place to the next along the way. Also like the Camino, the VF now has signs and markings to guide you along. However, the signs and markings on the VF are extremely varied in type and frequency:
We found some long parts of the trail to be completely without signs or markers. Therefore, we offer the following five tips on how to successfully follow the VF.
5 Tips for Navigating the Via Francigena
1) Look out for and follow the Via Francigena signs and markings - In all their different forms they are useful, but not always there when you most need them. 2) Also follow some good route notes - They can help you stay on track when there is not a single Via Francigena sign or marker in sight. 3) Know the order of towns, villages, and places you will be passing through and by before setting out for your day's walk - At least then if you get lost you can ask your way back on track. 4) Use local knowledge with caution - On one occasion a man stopped his car to tell us that we should not follow the Via Francigena sign in front of us but instead turn left. Our very limited Italian and his limited English didn't allow for a fuller explanation or discussion. However, his advice was not helpful. On another occasion, we get directed down the wrong road by two locals who spoke (as far as we could make out) with the greatest of confidence and certainty about the route of the Via Francigena. Perhaps for them, all roads lead to Rome. We did, however, also encounter guardian angels who appeared just at the right time to unravel our lost confusion and send us in the right direction. 5) Make use of water taps - the Via Francigena can be hot and thirsty work. Fortunately, there are, occasionally, water taps on street corners, outside cemeteries, and elsewhere en route to provide a welcome oasis.
Macs Adventure offer packages on all the Italian sections of the Via Francigena including route notes, accommodation, and optional baggage transfer.