Pilgrimage walks are an increasingly popular choice for holidays. Many people walk pilgrimage routes not only for religious reasons but for the joy of walking and being out in nature.
If you have walked the Camino you may be interested in walking other pilgrimage routes. So we have gathered here information on two other pilgrimage routes that might be of interest:
The Via Francigena
‘All roads lead to Rome’
During the Middle Ages, when pilgrimages to holy places in Europe reached its height, alongside the popular Camino de Santiago was the Via Francigena, The Way through France.
This route was transcribed in the 10th Century by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric the Serious, when he was returning to Canterbury after being ordained a Cardinal by Pope John XV. The Via Francigena is the main pilgrimage route to Rome from France, though its traditional starting point is Canterbury in England. You can learn more about the history of the Via Francigena on our blog.
We at Follow the Camino would recommend this route as an alternative to the Camino de Santiago if you are looking for more of a challenge. As this route is not as busy as the Camino de Santiago it is not as well waymarked nor does it have the frequency of facilities along the route and so will require more planning ahead of your days walking.
Nonetheless this route is growing in popularity, particularly with pilgrim’s who have completed the Camino de Santiago and are looking to complete a pilgrimage on foot to Rome, the home of the Vatican as well as the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul. This route has also been recognised by the Council of Europe and designated a Major Cultural Route in 2004.
Our sister company One Foot Abroad has developed manageable sections of this walk from Canterbury to Rome. Along the route they have sourced the finest local accommodation and you will also have the opportunity to soak up the local culture whilst sampling the various regions culinary delights: Via Francigena.
Saint Francis Way
St Francis is the patron saint of Italy as well as the patron saint of animals, merchants & ecology. The St Francis Way walk will take you through il cuor verde d’Italia, the green heart of Italy, via Assisi the home of St Francis, ending in the Eternal City, Rome.
Pilgrimages to Rome have been happening for centuries. However unlike the Via Francigena there is no historical text of an itinerary to follow for the St Francis Way. There are a number of routes to walk that are linked with the life of St Francis. For this trip we have selected sites that have a strong link to the life of St Francis whilst enabling you to enjoy the beauty of the Appennine range which was so beloved by St Francis.
The region you will walk through has a rich and colourful history and you will witness how man and nature have come to live in harmony which is very much in the spirit of St Francis. Some examples of man and nature working in harmony would be Sansepolcro, the first city to have electricity in Italy from hydroelectricity or the Cascata delle Marmore, a waterfall created by the Romans to drain the swamps around Rieti.
Starting in Florence which is the birthplace of the Renaissance you will move through the rolling hills getting an up-close experience with nature before arriving into Santuario della Verna a retreat that was cherished by St Francis for its solitude. The next stage will see you move deeper into the Appennine mountain range which is known as the thick spine of the Italian Peninsula and sees you moving through tranquil forests and among green fields in quiet valleys, before arriving into the birthplace of St Francis, Assisi. From Assisi you will walk to Rieti hugging the mountainside as you walk through olive groves and stay in hilltop towns that provide spectacular views of this region. Leaving Rieti you will descend out of the Appennine mountain range and continue through plentiful olive groves before coming into the Eternal City of Rome and your final destination the Vatican City.
Our sister company One Foot Abroad has developed manageable sections of this walk from Florence to Rome. Along the route they have sourced exquisite local accommodation so you can soak up the local culture whilst sampling the regions food and wine: St Francis Way.
If these walks appeal to your or perhaps you are interested in doing a walking holiday in Europe then check out our sister company, One Foot Abroad, to see all they have to offer.
Follow the Camino booked all of our accommodation along the Via Francigena and almost every hotel was to our satisfaction. The staff are easy to communicate with and very responsive.
My husband & I have had one of the best holidays on the Via Francigena. The scenery, weather, and people we met. Best part we had not to think of anything. We came back relaxed and renewed with energy. Looking forward to our next trip in 2014. Thank you.