There is something very special about following a pilgrim route, and taking a pilgrimage in Italy is more than just an immense hike or cycle. Follow paths created over the centuries by pilgrims on a deeply spiritual hike, connecting with your fellow pilgrims, coming together, no matter where you are from and what you believe and soaking in the natural beauty that surrounds you as you travel with a purpose.
There are two main pilgrimage routes in Italy each giving you the chance to explore regions that you might otherwise have passed by. Running down the spine of the country, from the Aosta Valley in the north, through Tuscany, to reach its final destination in Rome is the incredible Via Francigena. Its paths lead you through some of the best Tuscan towns and off the beaten track to discover a different side of Italy. In the lesser-known, but equally as beautiful region of Umbria is the St. Francis Way. You travel through dramatic undulating countryside, with your next hilltop town destination luring you ever onwards on this spectacular pilgrim trail.
From Acquapendente or Orvieto, pilgrims continued down to the charming lake town of Bolsena, important because of the Corpus Domini miracle happened in 1236, then passes through Montefiascone, a medieval also known for its great wine, to finally arrive in Viterbo, an important rest stop along the Via Francigena for the Medieval pilgrims and is the last large town before making the final trek to Rome.
The historic path from Assisi to Spoleto takes you on the footsteps of St. Francis, the man that 800 years ago decided to embrace poverty, living in close contact with the animals and leading an errant life, trying to bring joy in other people’s lives. You will be able to feel his presence as you wander through the magnificent countryside, walking through forests, fields, vineyards and olive groves, with always a medieval town on a hill in sight.
Are you ready to become the characters in a postcard? In the first part of this journey you will walk along the legendary dirt roads of Siena for kilometres and kilometres, crossing the Val d’Arbia and the Val d’Orcia, icons of the Tuscan landscape. You will visit wonderful villages like Bagno Vignoni, with its enormous thermal pool in the centre of the square, and Radicofani, whose fortress dominates southern Tuscany.
The first part of the Via Francigena cycling itinerary takes you from the snowy peaks of Grand St. Bernard to the fertile Pianura Padana plain, cycling throughout the rolling Piedmont hills. Admire the unique scenery of the "Checkered Sea" around Vercelli, take your time to sunbathe on the fluvial beaches, contemplate the Alps that dominate the scenery as you cycle in the valleys descending through orchards and woods.