Thursday, December 24, 2009

Walking the Via Francigena backwards!

Read Paolo's blog as he walks from his home near Rome to his girlfriend at Cambridge along the Via Francigena.  He even has an upside down photo of the route as his blog header!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Via Francigena pdf. free downloads

Google is doing some amazing stuff!
An alert landed in my gmail today with a link to this website where you can download dozens of pdf. files - brochures, articles and even a few books - on the Via Francigena.  There are 8 pages fo downloads, each with about 8 pdf. files.

And then there are the Power Point downloads on the same website (about 20 files - some are organisationa presentations)

And, about 64 documents -

Francesco cares for pilgrims in Pavia

I had a email from Francesco Grosso who says that she cares for The Way and for the pilgrims in Nicorvo province of Pavia.  So, if you are walking that way, do contact her.


abito sulla via francigena a Nicorvo provincia di Pavia e come volontaria mi occupo della Via e dei pellegrini.
ti invio alcune foto da inserire sul sito.
se vuoi dare info su di me a futuri pellegrini,
grazie !!
Francesca Grosso
uff. 0321/668526
fax 0321/668536
mobile 313/8083303

for info on the hospitality and / or other tract Robbi-Nicorvo please contact me at this email address or cell numbers below.

Francesca Grosso

Via Roma 16
27020th Nicorvo (PV)
Tel 0384 524024 Cell 338 3785706
No.: 0321 668526 Cell 313 8083303

fra.grosso @
uk.focalpoint @

Monday, November 30, 2009

Via Francigena in the South

Pictures and text from:


Go on a virtual journey along the roads of the South Francigene: the ancient ways and modern walking routes, the most interesting attractions, the most beautiful images can be easily located on the interactive map. Simultaneously activating the various channels you can correlate different geographic resources: for example, the attractions closer to the route you want to walk.
The ancient streets have been revisited by local associations to develop modern walks and cycling. Download road book.  Ancient Ways, Paths of pilgrimage,  Guide to the routes and road book.

Also, download "Rome-Jerusalem. Along the streets of South Francigene" in two pdf files.

Create your own guide:

Historical Centres, monasteries, monuments etc


Guide books for each stage, Google Earth maps of the trails are available for free download from this website; (Also Photo Galleries for each stage)/

From Gran San Bernardo to Ivrea

Stage: from Gran San Bernardo to Echevennoz - 14,9 km
Stage: from Echevennoz to Aosta - 13,6 km
Stage: from Aosta to Chatillon - 30,1 km
Stage: from Chatillon to Verres - 20,8 km
Stage: from Verres to Pont Saint Martin - 17,7 km
Stage: from Pont Saint Martin to Ivrea - 22,1 km

From Ivrea to Pavia

Stage: from Ivrea to Viverone - 21,7 km
Stage: from Viverone to Santhià - 16,1 km
Stage: from Santhià to Vercelli - 27,4 km
Stage: from Vercelli to Robbio - 19,7 km
Stage: from Robbio to Mortara - 14,3 km
Stage: from Mortara to Garlasco - 23,6 km
Stage: from Garlasco to Pavia - 25,9 km

From Pavia to Passo della Cisa

Stage: from Pavia to Santa Cristina - 28,5 km

Stage: from Santa Cristina to Orio Litta - 16,9 km
Stage: from Orio Litta to Piacenza - 17,5 km
Stage: from Piacenza to Fiorenzuola - 32,8 km
Stage: from Fiorenzuola to Fidenza - 22,6 km
Stage: from Fidenza to Fornovo - 34,2 km
Stage: from Fornovo to Cassio - 22,6 km
Stage: from Cassio to Passo della Cisa - 19,2 km

From Passo della Cisa to Siena

Stage: from Passo della Cisa to Pontremoli - 19,4 km
Stage: from Pontremoli to Aulla - 32,9 km
Stage: from Aulla to Avenza - 32,4 km
Stage: from Avenza to Pietrasanta - 27,8 km
Stage: from Pietrasanta to Lucca - 32,3 km
Stage: from Lucca to Altopascio - 17,8 km
Stage: from Altopascio to San Miniato - 23,5 km
Stage: from San Miniato to Gambassi Terme - 25,6 km
Stage: from Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano - 13,4 km
Stage: from San Gimignano to Monteriggioni - 29,8 km
Stage: from Monteriggioni to Siena - 20,5 km

From Siena to Roma

Stage: from Siena to Ponte D'Arbia - 28,5 km
Stage: from Ponte D'Arbia to S. Quirico d'Orcia - 27,4 km
Stage: from S. Quirico d'Orcia to Radicofani - 32,7 km
Stage: from Radicofani to Acquapendente - 31,8 km
Stage: from Acquapendente to Bolsena - 22,1 km
Stage: from Bolsena to Montefiascone - 18,3 km
Stage: from Montefiascone to Viterbo - 17,7 km
Stage: from Viterbo to Vetralla - 20,0 km
Stage: from Vetralla to Sutri - 22,5 km
Stage: from Sutri to Campagnano - 24,3 km
Stage: from Campagnano to La Storta - 24,4 km
Stage: from La Storta to Roma - 15,8 km

Associations on the ViaFrancigena in Italy

International VF Associations:

Italian volunteer organizations involved in the valorisation of the Via Francigena are more and more numerous and active.  The General Direction for Book Heritage, Cultural Institutes, and Copyright of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities has recently made a census of them, with aim to give visibility to their activities, to Establish a direct contact with the territory and to create a mutual information exchange. All the information collected is published in the following section, organized by area and equipped with an interactive map.

Gran San Bernardo (Montgenevre) - Rome stretch

•Association "Young Mountain"
Association of Young Mountain

The Association is not for profit and is based on the activity staff, spontaneous and free of the members. Currently the Young Mountain has 14 sections. "Activities for the enhancement and promotion of ViaFrancigena: "From the Alps to Rome, coming from the west and east, having as a point of convergence Modena. And 'This is the historical and spiritual journey that the young Mountain has run during the Jubilee of the century, precisely in the autumn of 1999, with the expectation that it remains as part of a traveler who is eager to dive into an experience, stripped and essential metaphor of the same path of life. It was chosen deliberately to create an entirely new way, different from both traditional medieval ViaFrancigena Sigerico frequently swallowed dall'asfalto and traffic, both by well marked, publicized and crowded routes crossing the Alps and the Apennines. He then attempted to drive an Italy "" child "," the Italy of old farm villages, rolling hills, mountains, unexplored artistic treasures more or less famous.The tour draws a great Y, which starts from two notes abbeys in northern Italy: that of Novalesa near Mont Cenis west (Branch A) and that of Aquileia in the east (Branch B).The two branches of the trail meet in Modena and then to Rome (Branch C).The branch is composed of 31 stages, 13 stages of the branch B, branch C of 28 stages.The latter is what is aligned more closely the historic Via Francigena."Tract Francigena on which the organization operates (from / to): After tracing the route in 1999, today the Young Mountain, through the section of Rome, is engaged primarily in the stretch Tuscan-Latium.Name: Young Mountain
Aims and activities of the organization
rom the ground state
Article 1 - E 'consists in Turin since 1914, the Association' YOUNG MOUNTAIN ', which aims to promote and encourage the practice and study of events both on mountain climbing and cultural, including editing periodical (magazine Alpine life) and other publications-cultural wilderness.
2 - The Association is apolitical and is inspired by Catholic principles without being part of sectarian organizations. In homage to these principles offers a view of mountaineering, as well as technical, rich in human and Christian values, ensuring that in its manifestations participants have the opportunity to observe religious duties and to find a morally healthy environment.
3 - The Association is not for profit and is based on the activity staff, spontaneous and free of the members. Currently the Young Mountain has 14 sections.
Activities for the enhancement and promotion of ViaFrancigena
From the Alps to Rome, coming from the west and east, having as a point of convergence Modena. And 'This is the historical and spiritual journey that the young Mountain has run during the Jubilee of the century, precisely in the autumn of 1999, with the expectation that it remains as part of a traveler who is eager to dive into an experience, stripped and essential metaphor of the same path of life. It was chosen deliberately to create an entirely new way, different from both traditional medieval ViaFrancigena Sigerico frequently swallowed dall'asfalto and traffic, both by well marked, publicized and crowded routes crossing the Alps and the Apennines. He then attempted to drive an Italy "" child "," the Italy of old farm villages, rolling hills, mountains, unexplored artistic treasures more or less famous.
The tour draws a great Y, which starts from two notes abbeys in northern Italy: that of Novalesa near Mont Cenis west (Branch A) and that of Aquileia in the east (Branch B). The two branches of the trail meet in Modena and then to Rome (Branch C). The branch is composed of 31 stages, 13 stages of the branch B, branch C in 28 stages. This is what follows more closely the historical ViaFrancigena.

Association Internationale ViaFrancigena (AIVF)
At the European tourism promotes the VF with a specific website since 1998 (now in 5 languages), with conferences, speeches in Europe. In 10 years, has informed the VF more than 3000 people in 4 languages. Since 2000 he has published (including 10 editions) Guide-Vademecum, Topofrancigena (geo cards with cultural and historical routes recommended) and Dormifrancigena (list of budget accommodation for pilgrims) for a pedestrian route of 2000km, with the cooperation of the most reliable and specific associations in Europe. Since 2001, the AIVF has created and provided the first credentials VF, the Testimonium (certificate of end pilgrimage), organized by the Vatican City, the reception and registration of pilgrims VF. Has produced 5 articles VF (pennants, pins with keys of St. Peter, T'shirt, coat of arms) to give VF its own identity, compared to Santiago.

Tract Francigena on which the organization operates
VF from Canterbury to Rome, since 2007 only Vallorbe-CH in Rome, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio, with the collaboration of provincial police, and local associations. His commitment focuses on compliance, restoration of historic features or traces of VF, where they are safer for the traveler.

Association of Light Bridges
A path to peace: the way from Canterbury to Rome in the summer of 2008, advertised on the network on the site  and on other sites with the support of other associations. In this way joined several people who shared with Immaculate different stages. Also during the whole journey has been published an diary in real time by sending postcards daily and their dissemination on the Blog by the pilgrim Oriano Rinaldo (
After returning the photographs were made publice on the site. Year 2009 photo exposition to greet the world: pictures and texts of the way Canterbury-Rome have been prepared by professional photographer Mark Degli Esposti and with the help and collaboration of various associations present on Italian territory derivantene the exhibition was presented in various locations (Viserba of Rimini, Rome, Viterbo, Assisi, Orio Litta, Terranova dei Passerini, Rovetta, Vetralla Calolziocorte).
The inauguration was the first day of the paths that francigena Pontidiluce joined as a member of the Network of Way. During the various exposures Immaculate has lectured on prorpio experience and on the paths in general. It intends to continue carrying the show in other venues. In the summer of 2009: design, identification and travel the Way of the Goddess along Lake Bolsena and partly coincident with the ViaFrancigena Lazio. Again postcards daily on blogs have done to the disclosure of the experience

Italian Catholic Scout Movement (MALE)
With the involvement of our Community members, in the territory, we made the guide "ViaFrancigena" 1st ed. 2004, 2nd ed. 2007 with detailed coverage by the Great St. Bernard, Mont Cenis and Montgenevre in Rome. We create experiences of pilgrims walk the Via Francigena to live the experience of pilgrimage, make known the history, culture, art, faith, nature, territory and population present on the Way.
We drove up to now whether GSBernardo - Vercelli, Vercelli, Vercelli-Montgenevre-Wertheim. In the coming years we traits Wertheim-Lucca, Lucca-S.Antimo and S.Antimo-Roma. We realized on our own initiative or on request external meetings for the presentation of the VF. We gave our contribution to the Ass: European Inland Francigene. We are part of the working group "ViaFrancigena and ancient pilgrimage routes" of the CEI - Pastoral leisure, tourism and sports for the promotion and enhancement of the experience of the pilgrimage on foot

Piedmont stretch

•Friends of ViaFrancigena - Vercelli

- Guide to ViaFrancigena of Vercelli

- Projections of images of ViaFrancigena in neighboring countries and schools
- 3 Festival ViaFrancigena involving the people of Vercelli in conferences and in ways to promote ViaFrancigena
- Involvement of schools by creating contests and treasure hunts to discover the places francigena of Vercelli.
- Involvement of voluntary organizations working in charitable mission in Tanzania or working with handicapped members to highlight the values of which ViaFrancigena Solidarity Reception-Accept-Attention to the other, attention to the "foreigner".
- Construction of the hostel for pilgrims near the community of Father Alberto Biliemme.
- Organization of pilgrimages on foot which Vercelli-Lucca in 2009, Vercelli-Santiago de Compostela in 2008, Mont-Cenis-Vercelli in 2007, Gran San Bernardo-Vercelli in 2006.
Tract Francigena on which the organization operates
Santhià-Vercelli: Lamporo-Vercelli, Vercelli-Fitness

•The Association of ViaFrancigena Sigerico - Ivrea (TO)

Activities for the enhancement and promotion of ViaFrancigena

•Detection and mapping of the trail with G.P.S.
•Study of installation of road signs on behalf of Regione Piemonte, Provincia di Torino
•Evaluation of transactions security, passing ability and comfort for the execution of works relating to the LR4
•Support studies for various municipalities in order to upgrade the paths, parking areas equipped and construction of new hostels
•Cultural events, music and sports in general for the use and knowledge of the route
•Propaganda in the Schools of all levels at regional level and beyond, accompanying groups of students with the use of our volunteers
•Accompanying groups of various groups of pilgrims and interested individuals
•Signatures of the route with spray paint signs in the absence of definitive
•Excursions on whether the path is not within our competence to promote exchanges and understanding.

•Association Serra Morena - Ivrea (TO)
Tracing the route, construction of a meeting in Ivrea, organizing a photo exhibition of the entire route from Canterbury to Rome, accompanied by various groups and schools, information and dissemination, promotion of tourism packages for the ViaFrancigena with operators local tourism.

Emilia stretch

Association Transitum Padi - Piacenza
Collaboration with institutions, associations and institutions to promote the knowledge of Francigena, in this case the local press accounts of voyages and pilgrimages. Organization of cultural and social activities during the day nazionele paths francigena / 3 May 2009) Re-discovery, exploitation and signature of a stretch of Francigena alternative: the way posthumously by Castelsangiovanni Piacenza.

Circolo Culturale Biffulus - Calendasco (PC)
Crossing the Po Soprarivo Calendasco at Court of St. Andrew Senna Lodigiana and vice versa, at the motor boat at the disposal of the pilgrims continuously since 1998 phone call at 0523 771607.
Hospitality, catering and overnight on the premises of the pilgrim's Circle Biffulus and planted permanently in tents near the Po.
Stamping credentials and records of all the steps. Delivery of materials. Installation and maintenance of signs. Free access to the library of the club, rich in historical documentation local geography. Organizing the annual conference of pilgrims (Convenium Peregrinorum), with the presence of musicians and poets and the staging of plays originals. Symposia on topics historic religious ethics. Short local pilgrimage (Low Itinera). Celebration of holy mass.

Tuscany stretch

Association of Inland Francigene Tuscany - Pisa
Partnership and collaboration the event "vigils Francigena 2009, agreement with the municipalities of vald'orcia for resolving the critical path francigena, partnership and organizational support for the training seminar" Sustainable tourism and regional development: the ViaFrancigena as an opportunity for Tuscany "at Universita 'di Pisa, supporting maintenance, mapping, geotagging, monitoring the quality of the welcome and hospitality' on the stretch of Tuscan francigena; partnership in the event" rally excursion International ViaFrancigena "collaboration with local authorities to resolve Criticality 'of the track; Atvf is made up of associations and other bodies operating at Tuscany "ass.cult.Attuttambiente", "Old Mint foundation of Lucca", "coop nature tourism", "Etruria trekking, CAI (Club Alpino Italian) Tuscany, communities' mountainous Garfagnana, "Sesame communication", "fitetrec ante Tuscany", "theater of agriculture, the town of Monteriggioni, the town of altopascio, City of castelfiorentino. members are also pilgrims and activities along the route that have services to the pilgrims. Municipalities and public bodies are honorary member

The Pilgrim community Tuscany - Florence
Our Association has done and is doing many activities on Francigena in Tuscany as assistance to the pilgrims, the distribution of credentials, route information, service, opening of two churches on the route. The work of far more important is the creation of a Web GIS francigena track of all historical information, logistics and location, and also the identification of other cartographic 7 historic streets of Tuscany, linked to Francigena. All this will be published during the month of November Minutes The association is sponsoring NETWORK OF ROADS to collaborate with other Italian associations to achieve the common objectives including the completion of the historic streets to the borders of the state.

Cooperativa Sociale Colors - Empoli
Social cooperative COLORS - Empoli  E-mail:  Website:
Aims and activities of the organization..
The cooperative social COLORS aims to pursue the general interest of the community to promote human and social integration of citizens. From here two particular challenges of those working, employee or volunteer, in a cooperative society. Failure to pursue the private interest of an individual or group but the general interest of collective Dall 'experience of management services for government agencies concerned that summer holidays for disabled people, drug addicts and their parents, were added over the years new policy areas: home care, the project Barzini, for young people with drug problems, plan to live together, day centers, sports activities, after us, preformation professional activities, social tourism for the disabled, school tourism, trekking along the Via Francigena signs ViaFrancigena management.
For 15 years, organized the event and a cultural hiking recipes ALONG THE ROAD IN TUSCANY FRANCIGENA, an event created in 1994 along the Via Francigena in Valdelsa and we always organized. This event always sees the cultural hiking participance of 350/400 people who participate in three days always planned, the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October. In these 15 years of programming have made known to some 6000 people who participated in the wonderful land that is crossed by the Via Francigena in Tuscany.
In 2007, we activated the education project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Review Trekking and the Professional Institute of Enriques Castelfiorentino called "In the Footsteps of ... Sigerico" project which sees schools join the program to walk along the Via Francigena in Val d'Elsa Florentine and Sienese. Since many years we cooperate with our Province of Florence under the environmental education project "walk in the green," with which more than 2500 school children in the province who subscribe to walk and develop teaching on the VF.
This year with a group of children with disabilities of our cooperative, we placed 500 directional signs along the Via Francigena, first in Europe to be in Monteriggioni Castelfiorentino pe run of about 80 Km Many have been all these years since 1992 the projects and actions made in favor of ViaFrancigena, the collaboration with Rai Tre, the trips with European tourists, conferences and rehabilitation projects.
Tract Francigena on which the organization operates is from San Miniato Siena

•Etruria Trekking - San Miniato
We participated in the vigil Francigene, the National Day of the Walk Francigene 03/05/2009 and initiatives in collaboration with the City of Fucecchio.

•Fraternal Mercy - San Miniato
The fraternity, since 2000, offers hospitality to pilgrims passing through on ViaFrancigena, by providing a room with heating and air conditioning with four beds and attached toilet with shower and hot water. In case of necessity can accommodate up to twelve people in a more local level, adjacent to the first, which also has a heating and air conditioning and attached toilet with shower and hot water. In this second room there are only a mattress on the floor. Since 2000 has been given hospitality to 1486 pilgrims. Tract Francigena on which the organization operates is from Altopascio in Gambassi Terme

The original purpose was to provide information on the various roads to Santiago de Compostela. Subsequently, the site will be open to information about the paths to Rome. Soon it will be for the roads to Jerusalem and other paths and pilgrimages in Italy. Other activities of the site is to provide a space to accommodate contributions written by pilgrims (diaries, testimonies, prayers, poems)

Lazio stretch

Association Altair - Rome
Trekking along stretches of the road in Tuscany and Lazio

Association Ing Cecchini - Proceno
Concerts and cultural

Association Points of View - Bolsena (VT)
The intersection of roads to Rome-Viterbo and Orvieto, the Convent of St. Maria del Giglio, operational headquarters of the Association, seems to have been, since its founding in the seventeenth century a great place to stop for the pilgrims of Francigena

Association Thesan - Viterbo
Cleaning and marking the route, from Montefiascone and Viterbo, from Viterbo to Vetralla and Viterbo Ronciglione. Information and assistance to pilgrims in transit who request them. As of August 2009 two cots available free of charge, with use of bathroom and shower for any meals pellegrini.Per requesting a quote libera.Percorsa several times in the stretch between Via Acquapendente / Orvieto and Rome.

Variations and alternative routes

Friends of St. Columban - Bobbio (PC)
For several years the association has been engaged in discovery and exploitation of the Way of the Abbots, an ancient route linking the Langobardia and Tuscia, sponsored by the Lombard rulers at the dawn of the VF. L 'journey was a milestone in the abbey of Bobbio, where the tomb of St. Columban was a place of international pilgrimage, especially for travelers coming from the British Isles and to Rome. This historic route has continued to be used as long as a variant of the Via Franci Cartagena Montana for the crossing of the Apennines, not only by pilgrims but also by the Abbot of Bobbio way to Rome, where the abbey directly depended. For his promotion is being held to an international conference, followed by several publications, has been marked all the path, were sponsored many school trips and group etc..

Association Amporium - Lamporo (VC)
Event Lamporo on the VF. Ultreya "2007, 2008. Event Lamporo walks Party ", 2009. Publication of the book "on Lamporo ViaFrancigena. Releases territory: towards Vercelli, Lucedio, San Genuario, Rocca di Savoia Verrua, Roppolo and CellaGrande, Bose, Santhià, Livorno Ferraris. See website

Association Pietra Verde
Meetings, tours along the stretches of the Via Francigena

Association Pietra Verde - Brignano F.ta (AL)
Meetings, tours along the stretches of the Via Francigena

The Roads Francigene in the South

Caving Trekking Salento - Lecce
Go ahead, even short routes aimed at understanding the reality of local religious traditions but which remain confined to Salento. PILGRIMAGE from Brindisi to Lecce to Santa Maria di Leuca, de finibus terrae. 88 km in 4 stages of spring. Study of the route, identifying the Mansi and places of rest and observation of votive chapels and cultural. Route annually from 2004 to 2009 to the first shrine of Europe and the world to Marian devotion through the territories of over 23 municipalities Salento. Advertising via the Internet and printing and publication of our volume-document "The Way of the Pilgrim." Among our positive results indicate our extensive and persistent search for fragments of the eighteenth century ERMA ANCIENT we did, placed in its ancient site, just 1 km from Leuca . We want them to become religious symbol.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Originally posted on  :
by Dave Witson -  and copied here with permission.

What follows is a summary of notes I took while walking the Via Francigena from Lausanne to Roma, from 16 September to 13 October.
This is not a trip diary and probably not of general interest to read straight through, but I hope it might prove to be of use to those as they plan their own walk.
Beyond my personal motivations to be on the trail, I walked this time with the specific intent of checking the route in anticipation of returning with a group of students next summer. As such, I had certain points of emphasis on which my notes focused:
 1) Where do the  waymarks (WM) work and where do they get you into trouble. Thus, while I read through the Lightfoot Guide (LG) before each stage and during bar stops, I generally consulted it while walking only in times of difficulty (I did not carry a GPS or bring additional route-finding materials or guides);
2) Where supplies are available and, more importantly, where they aren't; and
3) Accommodation.

I think it's also useful to know a little of the personal background of the writer when considering their advice, so: I'm 31, can communicate the basics in Italian and understand the response reasonably well (knowing Spanish helps a lot), train extensively for these walks, and have spent a lot of time on waymarked pilgrimage trails. I think I am probably above-average at finding WM, given that I spoke with a number of pilgrims who were much more frustrated with the route than I was, but I am definitely still more than capable of getting myself into trouble. I walked the VF from Lucca to Roma in 2005 and thus had some familiarity with that part of the route. I only had a month to make the trek this time, which necessitated some longer days.
Before I get to the daily summary, here are some general thoughts on  the current state of the VF (from Lausanne to Roma):

1) There have been dramatic improvements over the last four years. Waymarking is significantly better, much more of the route is off-road or at least off highway. Between the WM and the LG, I spent each day walking in confidence, not nervousness. In 2005, I told the students walking with me who had walked the Camino with me the previous year that in Italy they needed to think more like pioneers than pilgrims. Now, it's much easier to be a pilgrim.

2) The unrolling of new VF signs has definitely been uneven. In some places, particularly in the area around Vercelli and Calendasco, the pretty new wooden signs are everywhere, as are larger brown road
signs. In others, though... I was stunned that, in many parts of the last 200km, the waymarks from four years ago were still the only options - even when they lead you on to a sub-optimal route. It is important to know going in that the types of markers you follow will change daily, even hourly. The most consistent and reliable markers were often little stickers on the backs of traffic poles.

3) I found accommodation options to be plentiful, affordable, and quite nice. While I arrived mildly frustrated by the idea of having to call a day in advance, I actually ended up finding this to be very
relaxing when compared with walking in Spain. There were no races for beds, there were no questions about the albergue being filled upon arrival. I had a bed, it was almost always oferta, and it almost always came with a hot shower. Kitchens, sadly, are largely a pipe dream. I stayed primarily in parishes, monasteries, and pilgrim-specific spedales, though I did end up in a few hotels as well. While I don't speak much Italian, the phone calls were never a problem. I basically just said the following: Sono un pelligrino.
Posso dormire nella sua parrochia domani? And generally a "si!"  followed. Most commonly, they also wanted to know my name and the time I expected to arrive, so I started just volunteering those after "si,' to preempt the questions and avoid potential misinterpretation (Mi chiamo David e arrivo a quindici. Va bene?). That was, by and large, sufficient, and after seeming a little intimidating the first couple of times it became a simple matter of habit. And, as I'll discuss further later, this 24-hour notice matters.

4) I met a total of 20 other pilgrims, though 6 of them I met only in Rome after I arrived. This included four other Americans who, I believe, are also members of this list and I hope will share their experiences as well. Of those four, remarkably, it included an American couple who I had met previously on the Camino de Santiago in 2002, on what was all of our first pilgrimage. That was a surprising day!

5) I don't think I'm going out on a limb here when I say that I expect the VF will skyrocket in use over the next five years. The Camino vets in particular are looking for more, yet also turned off by Camino crowds. At this moment, the VF has good guidebooks, sufficient WM, a gorgeous route, access to great food, good accommodation. I realize it doesn't have 20 yellow arrows to steer you away from every potentially misleading driveway, but it otherwise has a great deal of appeal. That said, there is definitely growing tension surrounding the growing pilgrim crowds in some places. I heard about this most clearly in San Gimignano's Augustine Convent, from speaking with Father Brian, an American. When I first arrived, Father Ian told me they are now demanding introductory letters from parish priests to identify potential lodgers as pilgrims (though he didn't actually turn anyone away). But, given that most of the non-hotel/agriturismo lodging is offered on the VF by parishes and monasteries, places which are definitely not hotels and are dedicated to other (more important) work, there is some concern and dialogue over the sense that the people walking are increasingly there for a cheap, active holiday and not there for pilgrimage. Obviously, I'm not looking to start another "Who is a pilgrim?" discussion, but it's enough to say that some are having that discussion on the VF and perhaps considering just how much they want to be in the walker-lodging business. On the flipside, though, there are others quite excited about it. I'm told the priest in Gambassi Terme hopes to have a new pilgrim-specific spedale completed by next summer (*with* showers).
OK, on with the daily outline:  BUT FIRST: A disclaimer - every time I mention failed WM or bad directions, or any other route-related problems below, it is worth assuming that "user error" may have also been at work. In other words, it is entirely possible, and in some cases quite probable, that I just blew it. Still, I mention it in the hopes that others will have better luck.


-WM are generally yellow "Tourisme pedestre" stickers on poles

-Lake Geneva obviously provides the major WM, since you're following it for a couple of days. But, it can be mildly tricky to know when to follow its edge directly and when to switch back over to the road. Not a big deal, though.

-The LG is missing "Useful Info" on the Lausanne-Villeneuve stretch.

-I stayed in Vevey at the Notre Dame church. Very friendly reception after having set this up via email. They have a two-bed room around the corner, next to the community center. Bathrooms in the community
center and the priest allowed me to shower in the parish house. He also offered me dinner, great leftovers from an earlier community meeting. The Notre Dame church is on the main road towards the end of town. Upon leaving, continue very briefly down the road and then it is quite easy to rejoin the lake. For those interested in such matters, Vevey has a Starbucks (these are the things my students really want to know).


-Easy walk from Vevey to Villeneuve along lake

-Around 9km you arrive at Chateau Chillon, which is well worth a visit

-Montreux has an HI hostel -

-The WM in Villeneuve might be a little dicey, though I did leave to hit a supermarket. I just worked my way back to the main road from which I was able to catch the left-turn on to the WM footpath through
the trees.

-I got spoiled by the abundance of resources from Lausanne to Villeneuve, where it seemed like public restrooms and water faucets were available every 200m. Well, be warned - there aren't a lot of options for water between Villeneuve and St Maurice. Fill up (or empty out!) before you leave.

-It wasn't clear to me from the WM exactly when I needed to leave the canal after Villeneuve and transition over to the Rhone River. Again, fortunately the geographic WM were obvious here when the man-made ones were insufficient

-St Maurice has a surprising amount of things to see, including a "Fairy Grotto"

-I stayed at the abbey, which is almost a hotel, with a set price list, a full floor of rooms and nice bathroom facilities. 30fr/50fr for a single/double. I booked by email.


-WM was generally good out of St Maurice, though the train station is a helpful landmark to work from - get to it and then continue past it

-Take care when following the trails downhill in this stage - some  "steps" are held in place by rebar which actually extends a couple of inches beyond the boards and can be hard to see

-I had some route-finding issues around the Pissevache waterfall, but it is easy to just double back to the road briefly

-In Martigny, WM are often missing, but just followe the Grand StBernard road signs

-I stayed with the parish in Orsieres. In their community center, they have four foam mats for pilgrims and a potential kitchen downstairs. No shower here and the only bathroom is the public restroom across the street (it is open 24 hours)


-A little uncertainty when the trail splits. A Le Monin/Dranse sign goes downhill, yellow markers (including VF markers) point uphill.  The downhill is probably preferable. The uphill buys you a lot of
extra uphill which you'll just give back on the downhill soon after (and today already has plenty of uphill).

-Water is available in Dranse

-In Bourg St Bernard, the one potential stop with facilities along the way (though it is 1km off the route), the little grocery store was closed and the bar along the route was closed. But, another was open and seemed the more reliable - when you join the main road in BSB,  turn left and you'll see it.


-I took the shorter option after St Rhemy and found it quite advisable. There are some briefer sharp downhills, but nothing too bad

-There are no WM in Aoste, but the LG has a helpful map that makes it easy

-The main VF does not enter Nus proper, skipping all facilities (and it is a steep downhill into town and those facilities)

-The Nus parish was under extensive renovation and not available to pilgrims

-I took the variant via Fenis (the castle really is spectacular) and Pontey. All pavement, but very little traffic. Easy walking. The route from Pontey to Chatillon is quite tricky - don't just follow the road-marked route into Chatillon as it's much longer

-Facilities: Gagnod-Bar (B), Aoste-All Facilities (AF),  Nus-Bar/Grocery (G), Fenis-B/G, Chatillon-AF

-I stayed at the Hotel Verger (35E) as I had plans change and didn't want to bother the Cappucini late. I know others who stayed there and liked it.


-The VF does not enter St Vincent proper, but it does pass a convenient bar

-WM problematic soon after the bar - I tried and failed to find the right turn where the road curves left (42.018 - these numbers always correspond to the specific turn in the LG). Thought I found it, but
oh boy did I not...a fun adventure followed, eventually leading me back to the WM. I think I just blew this one.
-I took the option via Issogne. All paved and Issogne is pleasant, but not a must-see by any means. Saving 2.6km is nice, though. WM is limited so follow the book closely.

-Hone and Donnas both have sizable parishes, but I couldn't get a hold of anyone in either of them.

-Bard is stunning. I didn't know anything about it beforehand, but I would consider that a must visit.

-Facilities: St Vincent-AF (only B on route), Montjovet-B/G,  Issogne-B/G, Hone-AF, Bard-B, Donnas-AF, PSM-AF

-Stayed at Hotel Grabun (45E), again because I arrived later and without reaching the parish. Americans might like to know that this hotel has Sky Satellite tv, on which one can watch the NFL...


-In PSM and other parts of this route, white pilgrim silhouettes serve as WM, often painted on the curb. Keep a sharp eye out...

-In Montestrutto, when you arrive in the piazza, turn left

-The WM follow a different route out of Montalto, taking a wider loop  that leads you along the old route out of town and towards an imposing castle, before arcing back.

-Ivrea was a pain for me - no tourist info center and a challenge to find things in general. The LG tells you to turn R at the city walls and leads you to the center. If your destination is the Ostello Canoe Club, I recommend turning L instead and following the road around the old town (along the way, you will pass an internet point on your R) and then eventually proceeding along the river (Dora Baltea). Turn L on the bridge over the river, and then turn L again on Dora Baltea. The Ostello is kind of hidden - take the first left, past the check point, and go all the way to the back.

-Facilities: Carema-B, Settimo-Restaurant, Borgofranco d'Avrea-B/G, Montalto-B/G, Ivrea-AF

-Stayed at Ostello Canoe Club (15E, Kitchen)


-There were no WM of any kind from 44.008 until Viverone, but plenty before and after. Did they change the official route or does the LG just disagree?

-44.026 tells you to turn R before the San Rocco chapel in Carema and then L soon after. This ended up confusing me at the next crossroads and I suggest ignoring it. Continue straight past San Rocco, keeping it on your R, and then proceed straight on the main road as you merge with it.

-The turnoff to the San Pietro Church (44.032) was unclear - if it is what I think it was, it was badly overgrown. I stayed on the road.

-At 44.042, the guide advises you to turn R after the B&B. The turn is actually immediately before the B&B and very easily missed. I got the feeling that the B&B's owner is used to bailing out pilgrims who
are poking confusedly around his property...

-As you proceed through the next stretch, it would be easy to miss 44.045 - there really are no WM and the poplar trees are your best landmark

-Not sure what happened, but I ended up on the wrong path in the woods  several km before Santhia and ended up on the highway. I closely followed the brand new signs - I wonder if one of them is misplaced...follow the book carefully here.

-Facilities: Bollengo-B/G, Palazzo Canavese-B/G, Piverone-G/B/Farmacia, Cavaglia-B/SM (Supermarket) at end of town, Santhia-AF

-Santhia has a new pilgrim ostello right in the Piazza de Roma. Keys from Caffe della Piazza. 5E minimum donation, 8 beds, shower, and they have arranged for a pilgrim menu at a nearby restaurant. Very
pilgrim friendly town.


-Santhia to San Germano Vercellese is very clear, easy to follow

-Leaving SGV, the WM and book lead you south briefly and then double-back to the highway and across it. There is one critical WM (the one telling you to double-back missing) and without the book you would be very sad. I recommend skipping this little section all together - follow the highway out of SGV and then, half a km later, follow the WM left off of it.

-New WM call for a L prior to the LG's 45.043. This is advisable - it gets you to Montonero more directly

-Montonero has a "pilgrim rest-stop" which is a couple of benches and a fountain.

-Facilities: SGV-B/G, Vercelli-AF

-Slept at Ostello Biliemme, in the Convento Biliemme (10E minimum donation, dinner and breakfast offered). It has 6 beds and a kitchen available. If you want to stay there, follow these directions (from a
local Vercelli VF publication) as you arrive in Vercelli (it's at least 1km from the center of Vercelli and longer from the TI):

Follow the LG to Via Trino. At the roundabout, turn L on the long bridge over the railway (Corso Avogadro di Quaregna) and proceed straight for 1.5km. At the second traffic light (Piazza Sardegna), proceed right along Corso Salamano towards the graveyard. Biliemme is on your left after 400m


-Apparently a bridge is out, so prior to arriving in Palestro, VF detour signs lead you on a somewhat maddening backtrack to the highway, which you follow into Palestro. Sadly, this also results in missing the 720km marker. The detour signs look like they've been there for a little while...

-In Palestro, it's easy to find your way to Via Garibaldi, rejoining the VF proper. But, a brown VF road sign then misleads, guiding you back towards the highway. Ignore this and continue along Via Rosasco -46.023 mentions a footpath. That is stretching the meaning of the word footpath at first, but trust the route - it gets better in a little bit...

-Nicorvo's church has a timbro in it

-Somewhere around 47.023 = Doom. The rice paddies are brutal. No landmarks, mosquitoes everywhere, and during this stage in particular the WM fail (or I really screwed up). Hold the book tightly in one hand and a rosary in the other...

-Facilities: The VF bypasses services in Palestro and Robbio, though both have B/G and more; Nicorvo-B, Mortara-AF (SM to R after last roundabout), Tromello-AF

-Slept at the parish in Tromello - 3 camp beds, hot shower, bar downstairs. Father Carlo is very pilgrim friendly - he was waiting for me in the morning and walked with me to the town limit.


-Not sure if I missed something, but the WM led me to Madonna della Bozzola, not Garlasco

-I think Alt Route #5 should read "with the water on your right" not left. That, or I took a couple of wrong turns...

-After Madonna, WM is quite clear and reliable the rest of the way

-Facilities: Madonna-B, Gropello Cairoli-B, Villanova-B, Canarazzo-B, there are also bars on the river, Pavia-AF

-Slept in Casa della Carita (nice room, oferta). You're locked in until 7am. To reach it, turn R after passing through the covered bridge, then left on Pedotti.


-In San Leonardo, new WM call for a R turn off of the main road through town. I ignored this and followed the book instead, as it could only make the route longer...

-Once again, the book and WM disagree at 49.020. I followed the WM this time and unfortunately so, as they deposited me on the SS234.

Follow the book.

-After Campo Rinaldo, I lost the WM and couldn't find the route called for in the book. It was right around 50.014 - the route seemed to end near the canal. I must have just missed it...

-Danilo's ferry is awesome (5E) - call in advance to coordinate a time and then reconfirm in Orio Litta. He also has one of the finest timbros of the route

-Facilities: Albertano-B, San Leonardo-B/G/F, Ospedaletto-B, San Giacomo-B, Belgioiso-AF (@ on L as you enter town), Santa Cristina-B/G/F, Mirandolo-B, Campo Rinaldo-B, Orio Litta - B/G/F, Calendasco-B/G/F

-Slept in Ostello Le Tre Corone (10E). Very nice hostel that is pilgrim-friendly. They have a 10E pilgrim menu which was one of the best meals I had all trip. English-speaking and can be reserved via email


-Calendasco to Piacenza is all on the road and clear -After following the highway out of Piacenza, the R turn on to Mussina is not marked at all, which stunned me. There are no WM until the exit from I Vaccara , has the route been changed?

-I Vaccara was very tricky for me. I followed the highway into town until reaching a T-junction with Via Rocci. Following the book I turned R and then curved to the L. At another junction, I turned L on what turned out to be Strada I Vaccari. After, to the R, on a pole, I could see an old VF marker, but that didn't jibe at all with the book. I followed the road instead. It curved to the L. Then a R turn kept me on Strada I Vaccari, after which the WM resumed for the first time since before Piacenza.

-I Vaccari is your last chance at water until Fiorenzuola.

-There has been significant work in the Nure River, which makes the fording significantly more difficult. Much of the river-side road on the other side has been wiped out so ford as far to the right as you can. Good luck.

-WM follow a new route beginning at 51.035 and it skips Montanaro, reconnecting with the book's route in Zena though entering from the other side of the village (thus 51.039 becomes a L). This route seemed significantly shorter

-Castello di Paderna has a restaurant, but sadly it is only open nights...

-Facilities: Cotrebbia Nuova-B, Piacenza-AF (4km out of Piacenza there is a SM)

-Slept in the parish in Fiorenzuola, which has 4 beds, a cot, and good showers. I emailed in advance


-The route is totally clear to San Rocco, where the WM evaporate

-There is a new VF sign at 52.018, and then nothing more the rest of the way to Fidenza

-Three other pilgrims I met were following a different route from Chiaravalle, south of the freeway and via Saliceto. No idea if this is WM or better, but it must be shorter

-Fidenza has a great VF-friendly TI across from the Duomo, with a timbro. They'll call ahead for you for your next lodging and even take your picture and email it to you, as a "memento" of your time in Fidenza...

-Fidenza to Medesano is perfectly WM

-The VF doesn't enter Costamezzana proper, though a fountain is available at the cemetery

-Facilities: Chiaravalle-B/G, San Rocco-B (limited hours), Castione-G/B/F, Fidenza-AF, Osteria del Sole-B, Cella-B

-Slept in parish - very nice facilities including a great bathroom. 4 beds.


-No idea what happened, but I got totally confused between 53.054 and 53.057. If you have the same trouble, you'll end up passing through a farm, down a driveway, and come out on a T-junction with a paved road heading downhill to your L. Turn R uphill and you'll eventually hit a WM

-WM is limited from Felegara through to the end of the park, but the footpath is fairly intuitive

-Beginning near Sivizzano are concrete roadside markers containing ceramic pilgrims

-A couple of WM changes - after Sivizzano, the WM lead you L off the road, rejoining it eventually. It's longer, but at least it gets you off the road for a bit. Then, after 54.013, when the road turns L, continue straight on a footpath. This will lead you directly to Bardone and save you some walking

-Facilities: Felegara-AF, Fornova-AF (@ near Piazza Tarasconi), Sivizzano-B,G, Cassio-B/G/Ostello Via Francigena and a Hotel with 25E singles, Berceto-AF

-Slept in Casa della Gioventu, run by the parish. Berceto has a VF-TI on the route through town which should be able to place you in the room, but it was closed when I came through (when the hours said it would be open). This was a little scruffier than most of the places I stayed, though I might have had poor timing...


-Great walk, great WM, great old bridges. Awesome day.

-Facilities: Cisa Pass-B/G, Arzengio-B/G (long stretch between those), Pontremoli-AF

-Slept in the castle. So cool. They just gave me the keys to the gate when it closed for the day. Lots of beds, good showers, 18E. A sign in town indicated a pilgrim hostel in the Seminario Vescovile, but I had no luck reaching anyone there

-Pontremoli to Villafranca was all clear, though you do need to ignore an old AIVF sticker calling for you to leave the highway too soon after Pontremoli

-In the woods between VFL and Aulla, I made three wrong turns. Not sure why. Might have just gotten off the wrong side of the bed. WM are not always in consistent locations - some are on wrongs and partially obscured. Take care

-Facilities: Filattiera-B/SM, VFL-AF, Filetto-B/G, Terrarosa-B/G, Aulla-AF (@ around corner from ostello)

-Aulla has a VF Museum near the end of town that is quite nice. They also oversee the parish ostello

-Slept in the parish ostello - it's huge! 25 beds, a great shower, located right at the VF exit to town by the arch


-Aulla to Sarzana has very good WM and probably the trickiest downhill walking of the route -I followed the seaside alternate. I don't recommend it. No WM  (though it's not necessary), but more to the point it's all pavement, actual views of the Mediterranean are really limited, and facilities are largely overpriced fare. But, it might be worth it if you plan to spend the night there. A grocery store is available around 6km into the alternate route description

-Facilities: Ponzano-B (not on VF), Sarzana-AF, 58.020-B, constant bar-restaurants along the coast, Pietrasanta-AF

-Slept in Casa Diocesana La Rocca in a pilgrim ostello, a very nice 4-bed little building. It's just uphill from the duomo


-Bad WM from Pietrasanta. Look for the little white and yellow stickers and tiny neon green arrows, along with VF tape

-Particularly tricky for me was 59.005-9. 59.006 calls for taking the R fork; it's actually the middle of three tines. You will be walking past private property signs

-Red/white markers appear near Via Aquarella, which makes me wonder if there's a new route leading to this point. When they do join, though, it's easy to make a wrong turn - ignore a possible R turn where the first R/W are visible

-In Camaiore, turn R on Oberdan, not L

-The R-turn off of the river-side trail leading to Lucca is not marked. Look for a soft, paved fork. This road will make a U-turnand then another L soon after, leading straight away from the river. Right before a soccer field, turn L (you may be able to see an old VF sticker at this point) - this is 59.059

-WM out of Lucca stinks. It exists, but you're better off just following the book closely

-The 2km shortcut to Porcari seems to be the standard, WM option at this point

-The R at 60.023 is almost totally unmarked and easily missed

-Facilities: Camaiore-AF, San Macario Piano-B, Lucca-AF, constant food options between Lucca and Altopascio, Cappanori-G/B, Porcari-B/SM, Torchetto-B/SM, Altopascio-AF

-Slept in Altopascio's pilgrim hostel - access through TI behind church, phone numbers on door if closed. Great, great timbro. 8 beds in 3 rooms


-Timbro available in Galleno at Cartolibreria Felix

-WM is not always clear, but generally follow the canal to Fucecchio and then the embankment from there

-Prior to arriving in SMB, at 61.021 the route calls for a big arc to avoid the highway. I understand the desire to not follow the highway here, as there's a minimal shoulder. I still think I would prefer the highway here, as the detour seems to double the distance

-Slept at Misericordia - 7 beds, more foam pads, cold shower, friendly reception including pilgrim certificate

-Facilities: Galleno-B/G, Ponte a Cappiano-B/G, Fucecchio-AF, SMB-AF


-Worth noting that the VF in San Miniato Alto doesn't pass through the nicest part of town - well worth seeing

-Beware some potentially misleading R/W stripes. Make sure you're following VF markers

-Timbro at bar in Calenzano - also your last chance for water until Borgoforte

-The WM is excellent in this section - a huge, huge improvement overfour years ago

-The VF in Gambassi Terme skips the commercial center

-The 1km shortcut en route to San Gimignano seemed well worth it-Facilities: SMA-B/G, Calenzano-B/G, Borgoforte-B, Gambassi Terme-AF, SG-AF

-Slept in Augustinian Convent - nice room, great company with the priests. A letter from a priest may be required. Can be coordinated over email - be sure to contact in advance


-The recommended route to Gracciano is an excellent walk and worth the extra km

-WM to Abbadia Cuneo is excellent, but then they evaporate. Proceed to the R of the abbey. Follow the dirt road (not paved, as the book says) on the right side of the lot downhill through a livestock fence. At the bottom, there are dirt roads at 2 o'clock, 5 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. You want the 2 o'clock option; WM will reappear in a km or so.

-I took the shorter option to Siena since I already had a long dayahead of me. Extra pavement, but it generally seemed fine

-The L turn immediately after the Ponte Romano leaving Siena would be easy to miss

-Big disagreement between the WM and book at 64.014. The book calls for a R, the WM call for a L. I followed the WM - they eventually lead you around the fringes of a farmer's fields, making for tricky walking as many of the footpaths have been wiped out. It drops you in central Isola d'Arbia. At the end of town, after the last bar, WM lead you back to the VF proper. I would recommend following the book

-Facilities: Quartaia-B/G, Gracciano-AF (thought not on the VF), Abbadia Isola-B, 63.028-B (probably a better option for a snack than eating in Monteriggioni), Monteriggioni-Restaurants, Alt #3-B, Alt #6-B/F, Isola d'Arbia - AF, Montaroni - AF (VF skips entirely)

-I arrived in Montaroni late, so I stayed in Albergo Bella Napoli (20E). The city of Naples should sue.


-In Buonconvento, the book calls for a L on Via Roma and R on Via Percena, which have you going directly against the WM. Nonetheless, soon after the WM are with you again

-WM call for you to stay on Via Cassia at 65.011. Better to follow the book unless you're in a hurry

-Near where the Via Romana and Via Cassia draw close en route to San Quirico, insistent WM call insistently for a R turn, leading you on a gravel road under the Via Cassia and then to the L. I really like this route, as it takes you offroad all the way to San Quirico. It's probably longer, but much nicer

-Slept in the parish - a great facility with lots of beds, good shower, and an excellent kitchen. The priest speaks English

-Facilities: Ponte d'Arbia-AF (VF skips entirely), Buonconvento-AF, Torrenieri-B/SM, San Quirico-AF


-In Bagno Vignoni, WM lead you L around a spa, through the parking lot, and then along a jogging trail, eventually dropping you much later on the Via Cassia. After a few km of highway, you end up in Gallina and soon after reconnect with the book's trajectory. The book's option is advisable, I think - follow it closely in Bagno

-Route to Radicofani is quite clear, and remains clear to Ponte a Rigo

-In Ponte a Rigo, newer WM tell you to go L on the highway, the book calls for a R. Follow the book's instructions; you will eventually follow older WM along this route

-67.027 is hard to catch, so take care

-Facilities: Gallina-B (not on book's route), On Cassia, before turn-off to Radicofani - Bar, Radicofani-AF, Ponte a Rigo-B, Proceno-B/G, Acquapendente-AF

-Acquapendente has a great pilgrim hostel - 8 beds in three rooms, very well-equipped. They even have signs advertising this as you enter town. Phone numbers are on the door and they respond quickly! It's on Via Roma 51. Follow the VF through town. Eventually, it will lead you on to Via Roma - turn L there and it's on your L


-Acqua to San Lorenzo Nuovo is very clear

-Leaving SLN, take great care - old VF signs take you on an earlier route, down to Lake Bolsena and then following the Via Cassia from there. This is not advisable; the route in the book is far superior

-When leaving Bolsena, LG calls for taking the first left. It is not the first left, but it is clearly WM

-The alternative shortcut described in LG again seems to be the official, WM option now

-In Montefiascone, the route is a little maddening and circuitous, but it will eventually deliver you to the historic core - take care not to miss the R turn into the historic center, which is uphill at a church and easily passed

-Going to Montefiascone was a late change in plans, so I couldn't contact a parish in advance. Instead, I stayed at Albergo Dante, just off the central piazza (30E)

-Facilities: SLN-B/G, Bolsena-AF (@ in Libreria in old town and MIT Computer after the arch), Montefiascone-AF

-WM is very limited after reaching the cemetery in Viterbo and non-existent in town

-Facilities: There is a SM leaving Montefiascone and then nothing until Viterbo aside from one fountain. Take plenty of water for this route in the summer as you are totally exposed

-Stayed at Hotel Tuscia - a great breakfast included, but otherwise didn't seem worth it


-A confusing day, with often disagreeing WM and limited facilities -After crossing the Via Cassia (70.027) is tricky - WM directs you to follow the Via Cassia for a number of km; the book's recommendation was hard to catch but would be far superior.

-Before Vetralla, the WM split. Take the L option and you miss the city (though you still have access to a Coop/Bar combo)

-WM also splits before 70.066 - white arrows with yellow pilgrim silhouettes guide you through an orchard and alongside the railroad

-The WM also split before Botte

-Just hold the book right in front of your face all day today

-The VF does not enter Sutri, but there are roadside bars

-Facilities: Vetralla-AF, Capranica-AF, Sutri-AF

-Slept in Carmellite Monastery - nice room, 20E


-Sutri to Montarosi has good WM

-At 71.031, WM tell you to turn R. Eventually, the WM on road guide you to join the Via Amerina, a 3rd century road which seems to be in the process of being cleared. Some stretches are more clear than others. At its best, it's a glorious walk and highly enjoyable. At it's worst, you're wading through sticker bushes. It drops you on a local road, which you follow to the Via Cassia, which you walk along briefly before turning on to the highway toward Campagnano. Eventually, you will turn R on to a gravel road. Follow the book's suggested route instead.

-The route is all clear from Campagnano to Veio Park. There, it is very easy to get into trouble. In Veio Park, R/W stripes (and a printed VF sign) call for a turn off of the main road and deep into the park. I decided to follow the markers. Eventually, these led me across a river (at which point the route seemed partially blocked, but I couldn't determine if this was intentional and continued), across a second river (pretty deep), through sticker bushes, and ultimately deposited me on a gravel road where the markers evaporated. I found someone and asked how to get to central Formello (the next stop on the itinerary) - he described a circuitous 8km route (in Veio I was within

a couple of km of Formello). Anyway, I finally figured out a better option, reaching Formello's commercial center on the New/Old Via Cassia interchange and then just following the Cassia to La Storta from there. All told, it was probably a short-cut and the route through Veio was a heck of an adventure and I had a lot of fun. More

Via Cassia in the end, but I was mainly laughing about my good fortune having ended up so close to La Storta. As is probably clear, I thus can't advise on the route between Veio Park and La Storta, though I walked through there in 2005 and had no difficulty at that time. The main point here - don't take that right turn in Veio Park!

-I couldn't really figure out what the LG wanted me to do in Monte Mario Park. Here's what I did (and what the WM suggest) – upon reaching the entrance, I followed the steps uphill and then the path to the viewpoint. After enjoying the spectacular view, I turned around and turned left down the road, rejoining Triunfale and then continuing on that into Rome (though be sure to take advantage of the steps cutting downhill through the Triunfale). WM quickly disappear. When you hit Andrea Doria, continue straight on Via Leone IV. Eventually you'll reach the Vatican's walls and you can figure it out from there...

-Facilities: Montarosi-AF (but none on VF, which skips the town), Campagnano-AF

That's it for the day-to-day. Finally, here are some general thoughts on the Lightfoot Guides:

What was great...

1) Reliable directions! Such a huge difference. The authors show their expertise in particular when they guide the walker away from the WM, as their recommendations are almost always superior to the official option

2) The maps - accurate, reliable, and (particularly important to me) provide a lot of detail for the surrounding area, making it easier to correct a mistake if you do make one. No need to also purchase the Topofrancigena - this guide has you covered. The altitude chart is also quite handy

3) The timeliness. It is clear that this guide is as up-to-the-moment as a guide can get. Making a guide is hard enough - annual updates that provide the details this guide does is a massive commitment.

4) GPS coordinates - I don't use them, but that's a heck of a feature.

5) Accommodation lists - while changes are frequent in this area, they have a great collection of places to crash.

What I didn't like as much / would change / or is worth noting...

1) Make the arrival in each town/village explicit in the list of directions and put the name in bold.

2) Explicitly indicate when their recommended route runs counter to the existing waymarks. I don't want to walk with the book always in my hand - it would help greatly if I knew that, say, 6km into the walk I needed to ignore the WM. It might also be nice if they could present these other routes with a subtle outline on their maps, just so that one could consider the option or place himself when he follows those marks by mistake. No need to include turn-by-turn directions, of course

3) As noted above, I wasn't fond of how they dealt with facilities in each town, with some identified and others apparently non-existent. They have a Grocery icon, but it's not used at all in the Vercelli-Roma book, after being used quite regularly in the Besancon-Vercelli book. Not sure that the icon is necessary, but they might consider a subtle way of noting where food (or, more importantly, coffee) is or is not available.

4) Arrival in big towns was always tricky. Waymarks often disappear and finding the preferred accommodation can also be difficult. Perhaps they could include walking directions to the tourist info office - once you have a map in hand, those cities become simple.

5) Make sure you get the newest edition (or the updates). I met some other pilgrims who had the 2008 edition (I had 2009). Some huge differences.

6) I hesitate to mention this, but the "cultural and historical overview of the region" advertised in each section is often non-existent and what does come is generally quite limited. I'm not complaining, though - a guidebook's size is a huge concern and the necessary step-by-step instructions take up a lot of space. I don't want the guides to be much thicker and so some things have to go. It's just worth noting that you won't learn much at all about sights worth seeing or the region's history from these guidebooks. They are almost exclusively route-finding and bed-finding tools but they excel in those areas.

7) The distances don't always add up and there are a lot of errors in this particular area in general. It's not a crisis, but it's always a little discouraging when a secret, additional km appears during your walk. It would be nice to get this tidied up.

As a whole, though, this is such a fantastic and necessary tool. It's more expensive, certainly, than what those walking the Camino are used to paying, but I think the reasons for the cost are understandable and, when you consider what you are spending on the rest of the trip, $45 (or whatever it was) to dramatically improve the quality of the experience is a very small price to pay. I'm very grateful to these books and the authors.
That's it. If anything is unclear, let me know. I hope this is of use to some.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A pilgrim's world is a small world

In 2006 when I walked to Rome I discovered Ann Milner who was walking over 1600 miles (2800 kms) across 3 countries and 2 mountain ranges from Santiago de Compostela in Spain to Rome. Annie was behind us by a few weeks and didn't have the benefit of our 'Cryptic Clues' (Google translated Italian daily guides). I emailed her the guides a few at a time while she was walking, giving suggestions about accommodation on the way and finally in Rome. (Read more about this amazing pilgrim here.)
Ann and I have stayed in touch through email and through our blogs.
The other day Ann mailed me about some CPR business (Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome) and mentioned that she was off to walk a week on the Voie d'Arles from Oloron to Somport then Somport to Lourdes. I told her that I was leaving for Lourdes next week to walk from Lourdes to Spain and then on the Camino Ingles to Santiago, the Fistera route to Finisterre and would be a hospitalero in Corcubion for 2 weeks at the end of the week. I told her that I would be in Oloron on the 8th June.
This was her reply:
Sil I really cannot believe this! I arrive in Ororon on 8th June to start walking on 9th. After all this time we might meet!!
Send me a txt on 8th and let me know where you are. Am looking forward to seeing you hopfully in Oloron - what a blast! Unfortunately I am travelling all the way from England that day so will not arrive in Oloron til about 20:30. Still that will give us time for a drink no doubt!! Also I'm very interested that you are working in Corcubion. Last year I walked Santiago to Finisterre and met Judith Edward, a lovely lovely woman. I would love to work in Corcubion but my Spanish is far too limited. However last year I fell in love with that part of Spain and have promised myself I will walk Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia every year for as long as I am able!
Please say 'Hello' to Judith from me. I must email her. I will be walking the Camino Portuguese in September and will get out to Corcubion about 26/27 September.
I walked my first camino in May 2002. Ann walked her first camino in November 2002.
In 2006 I walked to Rome - Annie also did the Via Francigena in 2006.
In 2008 she walked from London to Assissi and then to Rome.
I walked the Camino Frances again in 2007.
Now this year we will finally meet in the south of France in Oloron Ste Marie.
Our paths have crossed many times - at different times - each following in the other's footsteps, now we get to meet!
Watch this space!
9th June 2009 - Oloron Ste Marie
When we came down from the room there was Ann. We were so excited to meet each other at last and talked flat out for about half an hour. She was planning on walking with Jim and Gerry as far as Somport and was not intending to walk as far as Sarrance today but when I told them about the monastery accommodation we´d booked in for the night they called in at the tourist office who phoned ahead and booked them in too. We left before them and although the first couple of kms on the road was dry, as soon as we turned into the forest we started the ´Slippy-slippy-shake´on mud as thick as custard. When we did finally come out onto the road we dithered about a bit trying to decide whether to continue on the path or stick to the road. ¨The rest of the way can´t be as wet as the first part´we said, but it was! Val sent an SMS to Ann warning them about the mud and they thanked us later when we happened upon them sitting on the roadside having a snack .
When we arrived at Les Fonatines deÉscot I was amazed to find only one couple running the whole place. On the website it looked like a huge complex, with smart hotel and a few ´simple´rooms for pilgrims who had use of the grounds. Well, it is a run-down but gracious old building that once housed the St James Study Centre, was a monastery of the Knights of Santiago and still contains a few books and statues from the past.
We had a good sleep - Annie and I sharing a room with a secret toilet that we were asked not to use at night as it is electric and every noisy!
We said goodbye to each other and we left the complex before them as we had a long day's walk to Borce.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

From Euro News24:

Rome, May 15 - Modern hikers following a medieval route once used by pilgrims travelling from Canterbury to Rome are to get an international web portal to help them en route. The new site will provide detailed guidance on the 1,000-kilometre Italian stretch of the Via Francigena, running from the Valle d'Aosta to Lazio. ''The portal will provide all the information currently available to pilgrims considering tackling this section,'' Florence Tourism Councillor Paolo Cocchi said. It will contain details on places to stay, services en route, places to eat and other information about the path. Cocchi also unveiled a series of national guidelines, aimed at ensuring the route offers more consistent services throughout its length. The route to Rome from Canterbury in southeast England meanders down through France, crosses the Alps near Aosta, then winds down through Parma to Tuscany before reaching Rome. The itinerary was first documented in the 10th century when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric the Serious, travelled to Rome to see the pope in order to be consecrated. Walking it took about three months. Few people nowadays are expected to do the entire length on foot but governments in Italy and France are keen to promote the old road as a vehicle for religious and cultural tourism. The success of Spain's Camino de Santiago pilgrim route, revived in the 1970s, prompted the idea of resurrecting the Via Francigena. Moves to clean up the Via Francigena began in the 1990s and a Via Francigena Association was set up in Fidenza, one of the towns on the route. The Via Francigena was designated a cultural route by the Council of Europe in 1994 and in 2007, then premier Romano Prodi unveiled the first of 1,544 signposts marking the way for modern travellers. Cocchi said work on the route was ongoing at a regional level but the main goal is to ensure hikers and cyclists can travel the entire length without any detours. Efforts are also under way to encourage more budget accommodation at regular intervals and move sections of the route away from heavily trafficked highways. Over three million euros has been invested in improving the trail over the last three years.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Omnes viae Romam perducunt - All roads lead to Rome

This walking holidays website has some good info on what to see when walking the VF from the Swiss Alps to Roma.
(Picture from the website)

"All roads lead to Rome' (Omnes viae Romam perducunt) - once upon a time this was not so far from the truth. In the Middle Ages pilgrims converged on the spiritual home of European christianity from all over the continent, upon arrival in Italy following the route that linked Rome with Canterbury - the Via Francigena, which, together with the Camino de Santiago, was the principal spiritual route of the great era of pilgrimage. We offer the entire route in eight manageable self-guided sections, each a week long. Guided group departures also available."

Distances for each section is about 120km.

Price: £675 per person based on 2 people sharing. Single supplement: £150

Included: accommodation in hotel**/***, hostels and agriturismo in double rooms with private facilities; bed & breakfast service; 6 dinners; luggage transfer; eventual transfer as described in the program; detailed description of the route and informative material.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Peter Robins posted this update on the Benevento-Monte Sant'Angelo. Details of the inaugural walk along the Cammino dell'Arcangelo on the AEVF site
http://www.associaz ioneviafrancigen asp?s=75& o=6725&c= 0

Pilgrim blessing at the beginning of each day, a simple meal at midday, and what's described as a "spettacolo musicale-teatrale- religioso" each evening organised by the locals. Sounds fun. I'm sure they'd be delighted to welcome people from outside Italy if anyone fancies going along. It seems the website will be www.camminodellarca - watch this space!

PS. The CAI's press release also confirms what Alberto was reporting: that they hope to open the rest of the route Rome-Benevento "in the near future".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Paris and Lyon to Jerusalem

Walking to Jerusalem
François-Xavier de Villemagne
Editions Transboréale
368 pages. 2003

6400 kilometers between Paris and Jerusalem from May to December 2000. This is the story of a journey through Eastern Europe, a path strewn with meetings, travel through time and space, an expedition on foot to Jerusalem .


Un pèlerin raconte...
Edité à compte d'auteur
2ème édition - 128 pages.

Disponible chez l'auteur :
José ROMAN - 5, rue des Bleuets - FR-69720 SAINT-LAURENT-DE-MURE

Aventure de 6 mois de marche de Lyon à Jérusalem d'un pèlerin en compagnie de son chien.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Charity tandem cycle ride to Rome sets off on Friday 13th!
Accountancy student with PEM Sean McCann and Jesus College student Peter Banks set off on their tandem cycle from Cambridge last Friday (13th March) – destination Rome. The pair are raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, East Anglia appeal to build a Teenage Cancer unit at Addenbooke's hospital, Cambridge.

This epic journey will take them approximately three weeks, and their route will take them down to Dover where they will catch the ferry to Calais, cycling through France, over the Swiss Alps and then finally to Rome following the pilgrim route Via Francigena.

Carrying all their camping gear, clothes and provisions on the bike within them, the pair who have been firm friends throughout their school years, will be camping and cooking for themselves while cycling around 80 – 100 miles a day whilst they aim to raise around £15,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust, East Anglia appeal. Following a “Bon Voyage” breakfast laid on by Sean’s employers accountants Peters Elworthy & Moore (PEM), who are sponsoring the boys, the pair were waved off on their journey by around 100 friends, family and colleagues.

Having been diagnosed with and treated for cancer at just 18 years of age, Sean knows only too well how the disease and its treatment affects every inch of life as a teenager. No longer a child, but then again not quite an adult, teenage cancer patients need a very different environment and where they can continue to be … just Teenagers. Says Sean, “It was very difficult both physically and emotionally coping with the disease and the radical treatment needed, but on a ward full of adults I felt isolated and wanted to be around people my own age. I just want to be able to support this fantastic appeal and give future teenage cancer sufferers the opportunity to be treated in a more suitable environment”.

Adds Helen Bearfield Smith of the Teenage Cancer Trust, East Anglia Appeal -“Teenagers are vastly different from children and adults and need to be treated in dedicated wards. A Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge will give young people in East Anglia with cancer the support they need to help fight this terrible disease. We were delighted to be invited to Sean’s “bon voyage” breakfast and enlightened to see that Sean and Peter have the backing and full support of family, friends, colleagues and PEM whilst they raise money for this great cause.

Teenage Cancer Trust’s East Anglia Appeal has to raise £1m by the end of 2009 to ensure the project goes ahead and PEM is committed to supporting them in achieving their goal by hosting a variety of events and activities throughout the year. Adds Toni Munro, Head of HR at PEM, “Whilst the care Sean received from the staff at Addenbrooke’s was first class, Sean found himself on wards with older, sometimes terminally ill adults for long periods of time and this is not ideal. Sean has asked PEM to support him in his fundraising efforts so that in the future, teenagers with cancer can spend what is a very difficult time in their lives, in an environment conducive to being a teenager and we are delighted to help.

Peter continues “Seeing my friend suffer from Cancer was obviously very hard for me, so when the idea arose to raise money for a good cause of this nature, I couldn't say no. So now I've been roped into cycling half way across Europe - and I have to give up the beer and crisps!”

If you would like to sponsor Sean or Peter and help them reach their target for Teenage Cancer Trust’s East Anglia Appeal you can go straight to their justgiving page on or via the PEM website at and visit events

Adds Managing Partner Paul Chapman, “We are delighted to be supporting this worthwhile cause and helping Sean to achieve his fundraising goal. We are however a little concerned that when they set off they looked at each other and asked “which way?” and the fact that it is Friday the thirteenth!'


For further information contact Pippa Corbett on 01223 728288 or email

Sunday, March 15, 2009

From Little Green Tracs:

The complete 2009 LightFoot Guide to the Via Francigena consists of three books:

Vol. One Canterbury to Besançon ISBN:978-2-917183-06-9

Vol. Two Besançon to Vercelli ISBN:978-2-917183-07-6

Vol. Three Vercelli to Rome ISBN 978-2-917183-03-8

The decision to divide the Italian section over two books (as opposed to the single 2008 edition) has been taken for the following reasons:

  • In this 2009 edition the authors have exclusively adopted the official route, as approved and signed by the Italian Minister of Culture, where there is clear advantage for all groups (hikers, bikers and horse-riders). But where the official route is too challenging for one or more group, alternatives are offered. This density of information has increased the number of instruction sheets provided for certain sections and makes a single book large and unwieldy for travelling pilgrims.
  • The authors have taken into account the increasing number of pilgrims choosing to return from Santiago de Compostela and proceed onto Rome, via Arles. This route crosses the Italian border at Montgenèvre and ultimately joins the Via Francigena in Vercelli.
  • The authors have divided the books on the basis of evidence gathered with regard to the most popular starting points along the via Francigena.

The entire distance is divided into manageable sections of approximately 25 km. In most cases this distance amounts to a comfortable walk for the majority of people, though of course it will also depend on the terrain. For the cyclist, 2, 3 or maybe even 4 stages will represent a day's travel, while for the horse rider a great deal will depend on fitness and the route itself, but accommodation is listed along the length of the route and it is entirely up to you and your body where you decide to stop.

Information provided in each section

Instruction sheet/s comprising:

1. Detailed directions corresponding to GPS way point numbers on the maps

2. Distance (in metres) between each way point

3. Verification Point - additional verification of current position

4. Compass direction

Maps comprising:

1. A visual representation of the route with way point numbers and adjacent details

2. Altitude Profile for the section

3. Icons indicating places to stay, monuments etc

4. Relevant signs to look out for along the route

5. Map reference number/s for the section

LightFoot guides to the via Francigena can be bought from some bookshops , either on order or directly off the shelf. To see where our books are currently stocked go to the Retailers page

To make an advance purchase online click on the link below. Note: expect up to 28 days delivery time after publication date - 01 March 2009