Most of our trips on the Francigena trail are available as self-guided holidays, which means you can pick your own travel dates and our travel specialists will adapt the itinerary to your requirements. *We also have a number of Via Francigena guided tours each year, departing on selected dates. Today we’ll answer one of the most common questions our travel specialists get: how to follow the Francigena trail?
For self-guided trips, you will receive a ‘Holiday Pack’ containing material to help you navigate the route, including walking notes (or guidebook, depending on the section and route) and maps.
As a long-distance trail, the Via Francigena has its specific symbols and route markings to guide you on your way from Canterbury, across France, Switzerland and into Rome, the Eternal City.
For those familiar with the Camino de Santiago, it is worth pointing out the Via Francigena and St Francis Way are not as well marked, or indeed as regularly, as the Camino routes, particularly the famous and popular Camino Frances. However it is also worth noting Francigena markings are constantly improving, as the route gains popularity.
In England, you will be following the pilgrim sign (and the North Downs Way).
Once in France you will be guided by the red and white stripes (long distance route, in some regions corresponding with GR145). You will have to pay special attention to your notes and maps (or guidebook) in France, particularly in places where various GR routes converge.
In Switzerland, the route is mostly way marked as TP route 70 with yellow diamond shapes and markers.
In Italy, you will find a combination of both: the pilgrim and the long-distance red and white stripes; as well as other Via Francigena specific signs. You will also find the route is much better marked once you reach Italy and particularly from Tuscany to Rome.
It might sound confusing but bear in mind it is a 2000-km route crossing four different countries! with the help of your notes, guidebook and maps you will get all the way to Rome.
You should also bear in mind the fact that today’s Via Francigena trail follows mostly the route taken by Sigeric the Serious in the 10th century but there are also certain areas where walkers are presented with alternative paths (to avoid walking by main roads for instance). In that case, have a look at your notes to see the location of your stop for the night and decide which path you should be following.
*Sources: Lightfoot guide to the Via Francigena, Cicerone Press.