Ready to take a completely new look at a trip to Italy, while receiving 2 free overnight stays in Rome? This is an official and legal way that 99% of travelers are not even aware of. All that is needed is to walk 100 km on one of the most picturesque Italian routes. Moreover, the path can be divided into a week or even 10 days - there are no hard time frames for its passage.
Of course, for those who have never been on foot or bike trips, 100 kilometers may seem an exorbitant figure.
But, for example, a traveler sightseeing in a new large city (such as Rome), walks about 10 km in a day. Practice shows that even for an unprepared tourist a walk of 15-20 km per day is quite capable.
The path that pilgrims of the Middle Ages followed to Rome
And if it is a path along the picturesque rural roads of Tuscany, along the famous cypress alleys, vineyards, olive groves and small towns, where time seems to have stopped and every stone breathes history?
We are talking about the famous Via Francigena or Franks Road. In the Middle Ages, this was the very path that pilgrims from all over Europe followed to Rome.
Here, for example, is a short video that conveys the atmosphere of this journey well:
And here is another video for even greater clarity.
Current State of the Franks Road
Nowadays, the route is popular not so much among believers as among fans of active tourism. It allows you to combine physical activity (simultaneously dropping a couple of extra pounds) with cultural enrichment, familiarity with history and local cuisine.
Thousands of newly arrived pilgrims from all over the world come to Italy to go this route - on foot or by bicycle. By the way, it is well indicated by diagrams and pointers in the form of arrows, which are often found on the way.
In addition, this is a fairly affordable way of traveling, as modern pilgrims enjoy a number of benefits and advantages, allowing to reduce the daily budget (overnight + meals) to 30 Euros or even less!
Pilgrim shelters are often organized at monasteries.
Firstly, every 15-20 km of the route there are special shelters for pilgrims, something like a hostel, organized, as a rule, at monasteries, inexpensive guest houses, as well as popular agritourism establishments. In the latter, you can not only spend the night on an authentic farm, but also generously treat yourself to the gifts of Italy directly from the garden.
Many restaurants offer pilgrims a 10-15% discount or a set lunch that includes three dishes and a drink for up to 15 euros. Usually, it is quite enough even for a man with a good appetite.
Many museums and even Italian railways also offer discounts to accredited pilgrims. You can learn more about them at the tourist information offices.
Pilgrim havens every 15-20 km
In order to take advantage of all these advantages, you need to get or print a credit (pilgrim passport). It is a kind of little book, in which, as you progress along the route, stamps are placed in the overnight places, restaurants, tourist offices confirming the fact of passing the route.
On the basis of the credit, upon arrival in Rome, in the office at the colonnade on St. Peter's Square, you can get a testimonium - a certificate of passage Via Francigena.
Free Rome Pilgrim Overnights
Those who conscientiously walk at least one hundred kilometers on foot can count on not just one, but two whole nights in the historical part of Rome - in the ancient pilgrim shelter Spedale della Provvidenza - and even for a joint dinner and breakfast with other pilgrims.
Cycling travelers will have to travel a minimum of 200 kilometers through the picturesque valleys of Tuscany to gain this privilege. For example, from Siena to Rome, and they can only count on one night.
Credencia - pilgrim passport
Immediately make a reservation that these are pretty Spartan conditions, roughly comparable to living in a hostel. However, in low season you may well be the only guest of this shelter, and even located near the center - in an authentic building with a special atmosphere, a cozy green courtyard and centuries-old history.
In fairness, it is worth noting that this and many other pilgrim shelters on Via Francigena exist on a donativo voluntary donation of visitors, but the size of this donation is always at your discretion according to your capabilities. Everyone decides how much to throw in a piggy bank standing against the wall and no one controls it.
Restaurants offer pilgrims discounts and set meals
Extended Route Option
For those who have time, you can go on foot or by bicycle and the entire route is about 800 kilometers across Italy. The journey begins at the border with Switzerland - at the Greater St. Bernard Pass. Yes, yes, exactly what gave the name to the famous breed of dogs.
Further, the path runs along the picturesque valley of Aosta, rice plantations Vercelli, through Piacenza, Lucca, Siena, Viterbo and ends in the Vatican at St. Peter's Basilica.
The path begins at the border with Switzerland - at the Great Saint Bernard pass
Via Francigena passes very close to such popular cities as Milan, Parma, Pisa, Florence and, if desired, you can start your route by flying to one of the nearest airports.
Via Francigena Travel Guide for Solo travelers
For those who are fond of the idea and who are close to such a travel format, there is a very detailed guide for a smartphone or tablet, created by enthusiasts of the way. The guidebook is an interactive map that has everything you need:
- Official walking route from the Great Saint Bernard Pass (Switzerland) to Rome, indicated by the black line.
- Alternative parallel routes and options with features and differences.
- Routes for cyclists, marked with a yellow line and allowing you to go around areas difficult for a bicycle without missing anything interesting.
- sights and simply interesting places of the way are marked with red marks, when clicked, a brief description opens.
- Pilgrim Shelters with a brief description of cost, capacity and amenities are indicated by dark blue labels with the image of the bed.
- Blue marks cafes and restaurantswhere they offer a discount or a set lunch for pilgrims.
- Current location always indicated by an arrow on the route line in real time.
The guide will also be useful to those travelers who want to travel the route by car, taking as their basis the option for cyclists.
The route goes along the picturesque roads and towns of Tuscany
The route passes along picturesque rural roads and will allow you to get not only a lot of new experiences, but also to some extent feel the atmosphere of an ancient way.
You can place an order for the route on this page.