Top Tips for Walking the Via Francigena

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Via Francigena


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The first section of the Via Francigena consists of walking through the countryside and passing quiet villages. During this section, experience the quintessentially English south-east coast of England and the north-western coast and charming countryside of France. You cross on the ferry from Dover to Calais, a unique experience for pilgrimage routes in Europe.
Heading south through the northern region of France, Pas-de-Calais, the second section of the Via Francigena is rich in historical importance from both World War I and World War II. Take in the peaceful French countryside alongside the dense cultural history and simple lifestyle in the traditional French farming villages you find along the way.
Travelling from Arras to Laon, the third section of the Via Francigena will take you through the famous region of the Somme. Much of the tranquil countryside and woodland were devastated by the World Wars, so you will have many opportunities to visit war memorials and cemeteries along the trails. This is a truly humbling part of the world to visit.
With only five days of walking, the short fourth section of Via Francigena takes you over rolling hills with stops at various villages throughout the Champagne region. At every stop, you will have the opportunity to try the local produce such as Reims ham, but most importantly the uniquely regional drink known the world over, Champagne.
The fifth section of Via Francigena features the Cathedral in Reims, the Canals of Chalons, and the Napoleon Museum in Brienne le Chateau. On this walk, you will take in the regional history and folklore of your surroundings, especially the rich Napoleonic history, alongside the fresh and delicious French cuisine of the countryside.
As you move closer to the border of Switzerland, this sixth section of the Via Francigena highlights the architectural heritage of this part of the country. Early in the tour, there is a chance to visit the Clairvaux Abbey, where Victor Hugo was inspired to write his most famous piece of literature, the novel Les Misérables.
Passing from France to Switzerland, this section of the Via Francigena will take you through Alpine villages and towns, where you will also have the opportunity to sample local wines and food typical of this mountainous region. Since this is a very scenic route, there are numerous photographic opportunities for everyone.
Travelling through Switzerland and alongside the shore of Lake Geneva, the eighth leg of the Via Francigena includes hiking through Alpine terrain. Some of the hiking highlights include the Bernese Alps, the ascension of the Pennine Alps, with the final stop at the gateway to Italy in the town of Bourg-St-Pierre.
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.
An easier, more relaxed walk than the previous leg, the tenth section of the Via Francigena visits the Church of San Croce in Mortara, which contains a cast of the footprint of Christ. The walk consists mostly of walking along roadsides, over bridges, and railways and across numerous dirt tracks around fields. Through quiet towns you pass through you’ll get a sense of the region.
For those seeking a more challenging trek through the Italian countryside than other walks, this stretch of the Via Francigena is the perfect fit. While enjoying the rolling hills, scenic woods, and weathered roads, you will be exposed to a rich cultural history that defines the north of Italy distinctly as well as delicious local cuisine and wines.
Beginning in Aulla, the twelfth section of Via Francigena features magnificent sights such as the Abbey of Peter and the Church of Michael, the Cathedral of St Francis, towers and castles, and an interesting archaeological site at Luni. Your destination, Lucca, is a famous Tuscan city with well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city centre.
Stretching from Lucca to Siena, this portion of the Via Francigena takes you along roadsides, over various bridges, rolling hills, and numerous earth tracks. Throughout the entire walk, you will be surrounded by beautiful fields, lush woods and streams in the stunning Italian countryside. This is the quintessential essence of Tuscany in one walk.
Beginning in the city of Siena (with its stunning black-and-white striped cathedral a marvel), this section of Via Francigena visits the Castello Bibbiano in Buonconvento, the Palazzo Chigi in San Quirico d’Orcia, and Torre Alfina in your destination of Acquapendente. Rolling hills and valleys offer numerous opportunities to capture photos of the Italian countryside.
With five days and four nights to enjoy the Italian countryside, this tour allows you to experience traditional Italy at a leisurely pace. At every stop, you can enjoy the unique local wine, cuisine, and rich cultural practices of towns that may differ greatly over a matter of kilometres. After touring the countryside, the tour ends in Viterbo, home of the Papal Palace.
The final section of the Via Francigena takes you from the charming city of Viterbo through the Italian countryside to the urban outskirts of Rome and then into the very heart of Christianity. Standing in the Vatican City is truly the pinnacle of this adventure and an experience many pilgrims take with them through their whole lives.
Stretching from Canterbury, England to Rome, Italy this is easily the longest route we operate. Across four countries, dozens of beautiful towns, and 108 days this is a pilgrimage experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else. Follow in the footsteps of people who have walked this way since the Middle Ages and enjoy the ultimate walking holiday.

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