The Via Francigena was the main pilgrim route from the north to Rome, during the Middle Ages. In 990 AD, Archbishop Sigeric followed this trail from Canterbury to Rome and back again, and recorded his return journey from Rome to Canterbury. It took him eighty days. Pilgrims still plan the same amount of time to walk it.
Italian Via Francigena
In my previous posting: Upcoming Trip: Tour du Mont Blanc, I noted how I’d chosen to do only the Italian section. My reasons?
1) I have two months to walk and could have gone the length of the Italian and Swiss section if I’d hurried. But along with the reasons below, I really want to do the Tour du Mont Blanc first. Then take the Via Francigena at Orsières, Martigny, or even further on if I really love the TMB and want to finish it all.
2) The French section has very long days without food and water, as well as accommodation. The B&Bs and hotels available are expensive. Most pilgrims who walk it carry a tent.
3) The Swiss section is very, very expensive. From what I’ve read, it’s also poorly signed in places.
4) The Italian government has decided to improve the Via Francigena so that it may rival the Camino de Santigo in terms of walkers: around 250,000 a year on the Camino compared to around 10,000 a year on the VF. This means more accommodation, water fountains, food, and better signs.
When do I go?
My ticket to Lyon is the first week of September. From there, I go to Chamonix. I plan to spend a couple of days relaxing before heading up the mountain for the TMB. Then I’ll decide where to get off and catch the Via Francigena. Plans are definitely to cross the Alps on foot at the Great Saint Bernard Pass, the oldest pass through the Western Alps, reported to have been used in the Bronze Age. It is the path Napoleon used to enter Italy in the 1800’s.
A photo of it below.
Hope you’ll join me on this adventure? I’ll post my packing list, shortly before departure.
Interested in knowing more about the VF?
Two pilgrims walk from England:
Kym Wilson’s blog is a great resource for all those walking or interested in the trail.