The Via Francigena trail might not be as well known as the Camino de Santiago but it has been a path taken by pilgrims across Europe for centuries.
We explain the Via Francigena, the Camino to Rome, in 15 interesting and simple facts:
1 – The Via Francigena covers 1900kms from Canterbury to Rome.
2 – It is one of the many routes taken by European pilgrims on their way to Rome since the Middle Ages.
3 – The Via Francigena or Camino to Rome crosses four European countries: UK, France, Switzerland and Italy; and areas of spectacular beauty and historic interest.
4 – Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury, walked the route to Rome and recorded his travels in a journal in the 10th century. This can be considered the first ever Via Francigena ‘guidebook’ and the route today follows Sigeric’s trail as much as possible.
5 – Slightly different variations have emerged in sections of the Via Francigena route, to avoid bigger roads or areas not suitable for walking/cycling. Some guidebooks will indicate both itineraries so walkers/cyclists can choose which one to follow.
6 – It is pronounced: Francheegena (with accent on the ‘ee’) but to make it easier you can also call it the Camino to Rome.
7 -The Via Francigena route is a Council of Europe European Cultural Itinerary since 1994 and Major Cultural Route since 2004.
8 – Once in Rome, you can request your Testimonium, certificate of pilgrimage to Rome.
9 – It is not very clear how many people walk or cycle parts of the Via Francigena each year but it was estimated there were 2,500 in 2012 (Source: Cicerone Guides). * Compared to over 240,000 who reached Santiago de Compostela in 2014 for instance.
10 – The Via Francigena is still very much at a development stage in terms of way markings. Those will vary greatly depending on the countries and regions. It is important to have a good guidebook or route notes and maps with you.
11 – Markings are not as common or uniform as those on the Camino. Markings can be the Francigena pilgrim, the red and white stripes (GR marking) or both combined.
12 – Way marks become more frequent in Italy and particularly, as you get closer to Rome.
13 – Accommodation particularly in rural areas can be limited.
14 – It will take approximately 3 months to walk the full length of the Via Francigena, the Camino to Rome all the way from Canterbury. It should take a month and a half to cycle the route.
15 – Many Francigena pilgrims choose to do separate sections at the time (1 to 2 weeks for instance). Some of the most popular sections are section 9 walking to St Bernard’s Pass and across the Alps, section 14 walking in Tuscany and section 16 walking into Rome.
You might also like to read our blog post: Camino de Santiago or Camino to Rome?
For more information about cycling or walking the Via Francigena or to book your Camino to Rome, contact our travel specialists