Via Francigena from Bourg-Saint-Pierre to Vercelli

Stage 9 of 16


12 days


Popular time


Starting from




8.3 min | 18.4km average | 28 max


77.9 min |455.9m average | 915.3 max


1   2.4   3

Follow the Camino Preview Map Trip 658

Using the famous St Bernard Pass between Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa, section nine of the Via Francigena leaves Switzerland and enters Italy. This trek traverses the Aosta Valley, which is well-known for its spectacular scenery, outstanding food, and over twenty varieties of local wines. The tour ends in Vercelli, which is known as the European Rice Capital.

Great Saint Bernard Pass

Great Saint Bernard Pass

The third-highest pass in Switzerland connects the city of Marigny in Switzerland with Aosta in Italy. It is the most ancient passage through the western Alps, dating back to the Bronze Age. This area is also where St Bernard dogs were first used in search and rescue operations. In 1049, St Bernard de Menthon decided to establish a monastery and hospice helping travellers cross this highest point. In the mid-17th Century St Bernard dogs were given to the monk as watchdogs and companions. Monks and St Bernard dogs started working together to help find people buried under the snow. Nowadays, you can visit the ancient monastery and walk in this area with dogs around you.

Aosta Valley

Aosta Valley

The smallest region in Italy welcomes you into a fantastic mountain setting. Located between France and Switzerland, Aosta is classified as an autonomous region. The oldest National Park in Italy lies in this region. Ibex, chamois, eagles, and marmots live in this diverse habitat. Among this spectacular alpine scenery, you will also see lush vineyards. The Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle will give you another perspective of wine from this region, or could, sample a glass of Genepi liquor similar in taste to absinthe.

Vercelli, the European rice capital

Vercelli, the European Rice Capital

Crisscrossed by rivers, Vercelli is the ideal place for rice production. Indeed paddies are the main characteristic of the city. Plains are symmetrically divided and submerged for most of the year, reflecting the sky’s colours. The rice produced in Vercelli is used primarily for risotto recipes so famous all across Italy. This rice is very well-known across Europe and is more rounded than Basmati and other types of long-grain rice.

Via Francigena from Bourg-Saint-Pierre to Vercelli

Starting from € 1699



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Day Tours to Local Sites of Interest

Not included: Flights/trains, Insurance, Drinks/Lunch






Arrive into Bourg-St-Pierre and soak up the welcoming atmosphere of this Alpine village. The Church of St Pierre, with its romanesque tower, is listed as a Swiss heritage site of national significance and so is worth a visit before you start this leg of the Via Francigena.



8.3 km


From Bourg-St-Pierre you will ascend to Barrage de Toules Dam, which holds back the Lac des Toules. Climbing up and down while continually ascending the mountains, you will arrive at the famous Col Du Gran Saint-Bernard (Great Saint Bernard Pass). At the Great Saint Bernard Pass, you are 2,473m above sea level and at just over halfway through the Via Francigena route from Canterbury to Rome. The Hospice was established by Saint-Bernard d’Aoste in the year 1050 and has been in continuous use for nearly 1,000 years, mostly used by pilgrims or those simply wanting to visit the famous pass. Napoleon also used this route to move 40,000 of his troops through the Alps to enter Italy in 1800.



28 km


Going past the lake in Col Du Gran Saint-Bernard, about halfway around, you will cross the border into Italy. From here, you will descend down into Aosta and as you do, warmer weather will greet you. Passing down through Alpine villages surrounded by spectacular scenery of green valleys and steep forested mountainsides, you will arrive into the centre of the Aosta Valley. Founded at the time of the Romans, this town sits strategically on the major roads leading to France and Switzerland. Rich in historical monuments and buildings, it is easy to spend time here exploring. For food, there are a plethora of restaurants and bars where you can get a hearty meal as well as some local delicacies such as Carbonada, a dish of meat stewed in wine with spices and onions.



14.9 km


Leaving Aosta, you will walk past vineyards, grassy fields, small forests, and hamlets. About halfway through the walk, you will come to Castello de Quart. Then, winding your way along the hillside through forests and on grassy paths you will arrive down into Nus. Look out for the vineyards that produce the local Vien de Nus, a red wine. While here, take a stroll up to the Parrocchia Di Sant’Ilario e Saint Barthelemy Catholic Church, which has sweeping views over the town of Nus and down into the valley itself.



13.4 km


Continue on the hillside with the Dora Báltea River down below you on the right. Passing by more vineyards, grassy fields, and wooded areas, you will come to the village of Chambave where you can take a break. Continuing then through similar landscapes, you will make your way to your stop for the night, Châtillon. This large town has many historic buildings to admire, and a must-see is the Parrocchia Di Chatillon with its wonderful views over this hillside town and the surrounding region.



20 km


Today you descend further into the Aosta Valley through towns such as Saint-Vincent, a popular summer resort that is known for its mineral springs. You will also see the enchanting village of Montjovet, which has traces of human life dating back to the Neolithic times. Cross the Dora Báltea River to follow it into the town of Issogne. This stopover for the night is known for its castles and wineries so be sure to visit the Issogne Castle and sample some of the locally produced wine.



14.7 km


Continue to follow the Dora Báltea River as it winds its way through the narrowing valley before crossing back across the river and arriving into the town of Pont St Martin. Cross the Torrens Lys, which joins the Dora Báltea at this point, and visit the notable Roman Bridge of Pont St Martin that dates back to the 1st Century BC.



21.7 km


From Pont St Martin you will continue down the last section of the Aosta Valley before crossing over into the Piemonte region. Passing by large grassy fields, wooded hillsides, and vines clinging to man-made terraces, you will go through a number of towns where you can stop and take a break. The final town before your stop for the night, Ivrea, is over the hillside past two lakes. This ancient town has many sights for you to explore but it is also known for its Battle of the Oranges (the largest food fight in Italy), which is a central part of the town’s carnival in the run-up to Lent.



19.8 km


Enjoy the towns and villages you pass through today and take the ample opportunities to pick up supplies and take a rest at picnic spots along the way. Viverone, where you will stop for the night, is a small town set back just off Lake Viverone. Here you can relax by the lakeshore and take in the wonderful view. Try some local cuisine in one of the many restaurants.



16.9 km


From Viverone, leave the lake behind and head into the countryside, passing more vineyards. After the first village you will head slightly uphill and through a small forest before coming into the town of Cavaglià. Here, you can take a break and grab a bite to eat. Continuing on, you will then arrive into the town of Santhià, your last stop for the night.



26.5 km


The walk today is long but is also the last of this section. Passing by large crop fields, you become aware that you are now leaving behind the mountainous region of the Alps. You are now on the plain of the River Po between Turin and Milan. The final stop on this section is Vercelli, which sits on the River Sesia at a tributary of the River Po and is known as the European Rice Capital.





Today we bid you arrivederci, or welcome you to the next section of the Via Francigena. Known as the ‘European Rice Capital’ risotto is a traditional speciality in this area. After enjoying a gastronomic feast, be sure to visit the Basilica di Sant’Andrea and Vercelli Cathedral. You also have the opportunity to see the Vercelli Book in the Capitulary Library, which is the first known book to be written in Anglo-Saxon.

How to Get There

Getting to Bourg St Pierre, Switzerland

To begin your Camino, it is easiest to fly into Geneva Airport.

Fly into Geneva Airport

Geneva is a major airport in Switzerland, carrying airlines from Emirates to Aer Lingus. From the airport’s train station, head for Lausanne. Switch trains and get off at the town of Martigny. There, get on a bus and you will reach Bourg St Pierre after 3 hours of travel.

    Getting home from Vercelli, Italy

    It is best to return from Vercelli through Milan Malpensa Airport.

    Fly home from Milan Malpensa

    To fly from Milan’s main airport, take the train from Vercelli directly into Milan Centrale. From there, take the direct line to Milan Malpensa. This journey should take just under 2 hours.

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      This section of the Via Francigena will see you pass from Switzerland into Italy via the well-known St Bernard Pass.
      January Off season
      February Off season
      March Good time
      April Good time
      July Good time
      August Good time
      October Good time
      November Good time
      December Off season