Our travel tips are designed to give you all of the information you need to get organised for your next Via Francigena tour. Each section provides you with essential information if you are planning to travel on the Via Francigena from anywhere in the world.
- When to Go
- Fitness & Training
- What to Bring
- Holiday Pack
- Tourist Tax
- Papal Audience
- Preparation Walks
- Travel Insurance
The most popular time of the year to do the Via Francigena is during the Spring and Autumn seasons when the weather is more hospitable, particularly south of Reims (after section 4 of the Via Francigena walking trail). Summer is however the best time to trek the Swiss and Alpine section of the Via Francigena (from Lausanne to Aosta); as well as the Saint Francis Way from Florence to Rome, across the Apennine Mountains. If you intend to walk during the Summer months, please check the weather forecast, be aware that some sections can get very hot along the Via Francigena, and therefore you should bring along the essential items to avoid sunstroke.
Please note that if you intend to walk during the winter months (low season), you will find some routes challenging due to the snowy and cold weather. The Alpine section of the Via Francigena is not recommended during the Winter months. Many cafes, restaurants and accommodations may close (particularly in rural areas) during the winter period (if you book with us you will not have accommodation problem).
Most of our holidays are run year round, but ask our travel team for specific routes and conditions.
You can also read our blog posts:
We have partnered with health and fitness specialist Peter Duffy from Dublin, to bring you professional practical advice and help you prepare for your walking holiday on the Via Francigena.
On his blog posts for FrancigenaWays.com, Peter shares specialist advice and useful tips to prepare for your walking holiday on the Camino to Rome, including monthly fitness programmes, as well as exercises to get your body in shape and prevent injuries.
We have developed a Fitness Guide covering 6 months of preparation for walkers and pilgrims embarking on the Camino and Via Francigena.
More advice from Pete:
You might also like to read our staff’s tips:
And why not join our monthly preparation walks, taking place the last Sunday of each month?
To contact Pete for more information/advice: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Via Francigena is a big adventure and needs to be taken seriously. For this reason we decided to share what we think must be taken with you while walking. Of course this list is not all-comprehensive and
has to be adapted depending on the person and the part of the Via Francigena, but still, it gives you a good and precise enough idea of what to bring!
|General||Year Round||Walking shoes – Boots in mountainous terrain in winter only)|
|Year Round||Socks for walking & others for evenings (Merino Wool is best – light, no smell, no irritation)|
|Year Round||Hiking pants – Convertible recommended. (No jeans or tracksuit)|
|Year Round||After-hike shoes (or sandals)|
|Year Round||Short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts (Merino Wool is best – light, no smell, no irritation)|
|Year Round||Long sleeved shirt|
|Year Round||Polar fleece|
|Year Round||Travel Shirt|
|Year Round||Underwear – Thermal only in winter|
|Year Round||Sun hat or cap|
|Year Round||Daybag (15-20l) – If you have booked the luggage transfers with us 🙂|
|Year Round||Water bottle (i.e.: Platipus)|
|Year Round||Walking sticks|
|Year Round||Sun cream|
|Year Round||Energy bars|
|Winter||Extra clothing for cold sensitive|
|First Aid||Year Round||Anti-inflammatory cream or Arnica|
|Year Round||Blister plasters – Compede is the most famous brand|
|Year Round||Aspirin/Paracetamol for headaches or other pain|
|Spring||Antihistamine tablets – For Allergies|
|Handy to have||Year Round||Flashlight – With batteries|
|Year Round||General antibiotics|
|Year Round||Powdered drink mix|
|Year Round||Books – to have some rest after walking 🙂|
|Year Round||Toilet paper – You will generally find cafes en-route, but toilet roll is not always available|
|Year Round||Games for evenings|
|Year Round||Safety pins, Needle and thread|
|Winter||Plastic bags – If you travel in refuges, to keep your clothes dry|
Some pilgrims have suggested making a photocopy of your passport and other important document and leaving it with a family member so that if you lose it while on the Francigena, you can just get them faxed to you. Moreover, check that your passport is still valid, if not, we recommend that you send it away as the processing time can be long.
Some people find roaming charges for mobile phones are really expensive therefore; if you intend to leave you phone home, you can always purchase prepaid cards and use the payphone to ring home (or our emergency number). Alternatively most of our accommodation will have WIFI for guests or you can use the Internet cafés (in the bigger towns along the Via Francigena) to send an email or call.
There is no need to bring any books other than your guidebook, to avoid more weight in your backpack. However if you book with FrancigenaWays.com your luggage will be transferred so you can bring a reading book along!
Although there would be many pharmacies along your Via Francigena journey, linguistics can be a barrier, hence making it difficult to get the correct medications. It might be a better option to obtain additional supplies before you leave. However if you are looking for aspirin, paracetamol or panadol, they can be easy obtain in the local towns.
There is nothing worse than to bring the wrong gear to the trip. Always check the weather online, the type of route you are taking, before you go as this can determine what you will need. For instance if you travel during the summer there is no need to bring heavy walking/hiking boots, this will only slow you down. In this case we suggest you bring a good pair of runner shoes (or something that passes for a runner/ walking shoes for hill walking). However during the winter seasons, runners are not good in the bad weather.
Remember your shoes are the most important part of the gear so try them before you go. Please note that change of clean socks (wool/cotton looped variety) each day can make a huge difference.
Also bear in mind, the Via Francigena is not as busy as the Camino de Santiago so you won’t find as many services en route, outside the main villages and towns. Make sure you have enough water and snacks to keep you going until your next town when you leave each morning.
We take a particular pride of doing practical and useful holiday packs for your Via Francigena trip. The packs have been prepared by our staff after traveling to the destinations. Your holiday pack contains practical information for enjoyment of your holiday with FrancigenaWays.com
The holiday pack is sent one month before departure (by email and post) and it includes:
By email: hotel vouchers, information about your accommodation and their location, cycling/walking notes and maps (or a guide book by post, depending on the route and availability), a general information document including details about how luggage transfers and other services booked with us work, as well as practical information such as our 24/7 assistance number, what to bring, useful phrases in Italian/French and other tips for the trip. This information will be emailed to you and it is very important you download it, read it at home and print it to take with you on your trip.
By post: luggage tags for the group (to be attached to your luggage during the trip) and pilgrim passports (and guidebook when/if necessary).
Our walking notes and practical information reflect the route as accurately as possible and are updated by the team as often as possible. Like with any other holiday, in addition to our walking notes, we recommend you bring any additional literature you might have, as well as reading about the route and the area before you travel for additional information about events, culture, etc… a good starting point is the FrancigenaWays.com blog, for example to learn about upcoming festivals on the Via Francigena and other articles we publish regularly.
*For last minute bookings: your holiday pack will be sent as soon as possible.
This is the FrancigenaWays.com and CaminoWays.com pilgrim passport that you should stamp along the Via Francigena.
You only need to write your booking reference, contact details and hotel names.
Our transporters have more FrancigenaWays.com luggage tags, so if the tag gets damaged they will replace them with your details, you don’t have to worry.
Here’s a handy ‘How to download your Holiday Pack’ video:
You will encounter many different nationalities and languages on your Via Francigena trip.
While you might meet many English-speaking along the way (both pilgrims and service providers), you will also need a few basic phrases in French and Italian to help you communicate, particularly in smaller villages and towns.
We have compiled a pocket-sized French and Italian vocabulary guide you might find helpful, included in your holiday pack:
When you are travelling the Via Francigena in Italy, you will find in some cities and historic towns you will have to pay a local tourist tax, what is called ‘Tassa di soggiorno’. This local tax is collected by hotels on behalf of the local authorities and they are charged per person, per night. The tourist tax varies depending on the type of accommodation and star-rating. Some cities apply their tourist tax all year round, while some other cities only charge a tourist tax during high season.
Read more about the Tourist Tax in Italy.
Requesting an audience with the Pope in Rome is completely free and there are only a few simple steps to follow to submit your request.
The papal audience usually takes place every Wednesday at 10:30am at St.Peters Bascilica. There are extra audiences and special masses held during the holiday seasons, mainly Easter and Christmas. Due to the large crowds expected at the audiences there is a ticket process to ensure you get a seat.
To book your tickets simply visit the Papal Audience website and download the request form. Once you have downloaded the form you will need to fill it out and fax it back to one of the following numbers:
- Fax: +39 06 6988 5863
- From the US & Canada: 011 39 06 6988 5863
- From the UK and Europe : 0039 06 6988 5863
- From Agentina: 0039 06 6988 5863
You can only book your tickets by fax so if the line is busy you will need to try again. After you have faxed your tickets you will receive a notification with all details of the audience, including where to collect your tickets. The main ticket office is located just inside the bronze door in St.Peter’s Square.
You should note that there is limited capacity at certain times of the year and the Vatican issues a dress codes for all masses. For more detailed information on requesting an audience with the pope read our blog.
Our holidays are graded by 3 categories of difficulty: Easy (1,2), Moderate (3,4) and Challenging (5). Have a look at our walking holiday grading system that will assist you to decide which holiday is best for you! One of the first questions people ask is if they need to train before walking the Via Francigena, the short answer is yes!
Walk with the FrancigenaWays.com team
The FrancigenaWays.com and CaminoWays.com team organises a guided walk every month, if you are walking the Via Francigena or St Francis Way soon, why not join us? Check CaminoWays.com Facebook Events to find out about our next walk.
And remember, walking the Via Francigena will be challenging but it should also be an enjoyable and unforgettable experience… a bit of preparation will definitely help you on your way.
Download our Via Francigena Fitness Guide to help you prepare and get fit for your next walking tour.
Our Via Francigena holidays don’t include flights or insurance but we highly recommend you book travel insurance for your trip. Travel Insurance helps you to minimize the financial risks of illness, accidents, theft, lost luggage and emergencies when you are travelling. It is important to research the types of insurance coverage available before you travel to any destination. Policies will vary in terms of what is included in a travel insurance package. Does it include medical cover? Does in include baggage insurance? Does it include flight cover? These are the types of questions you should be asking when purchasing any travel insurance for your Via Francigena tour.
Basic cover generally includes:
- Emergency medical care abroad, personal accident, out-patient medical expenses, repatriation (Sometimes).
- When things go wrong with your travel plans: If the trip is cancelled, if you miss your departure, if there’s any travel delay, if you lose your luggage, travel home care.
- Losing money, passport, and important things: including lost passport expenses, lost money, cover personal liability, legal expenses.
Depending on where you are travelling from your health insurance may not include travel medical insurance cover. Be sure to check with your provider before your travel abroad. Remember if you have any medical conditions such as allergies talk to your doctor well in advance of your trip. Ensure that you have sufficient supplies for the course of your journey and take the necessary precautions before attempting to walk any section of the Via Francigena. We also recommend that you carry a pocket guide of the useful Italian phrases so that you can communicate with medical staff if you need to.
Some holidaymakers opt not to purchase travel insurance when they go on their annual vacation but the Via Francigena pilgrimage is a different type of vacation. Long distance walking can be the most rewarding active holiday type. Make sure that you are prepared for walking the long distances each day and do a fitness check before you leave on your journey. Learn more about international travel insurance options with our friends at WorldNomads.
We hope that you use these useful travel tips to help you prepare for your Via Francigena trip. If you have any more questions, the FrancigenaWays.com team is always happy to assist, email us at email@example.com.