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All roads lead to Rome. In any case this one yes.

Hop, I'm taking you in my backpack on a hiking trail that I had the chance to travel between September 1 and October 15, 2022: the Via Francigena.

The Via Franci-what?

We are in -58 BC. Julius Caesar opens a road linking Rome to Northern Europe. Very quickly, this road became an important commercial and religious axis. The Via Francigena is a pilgrimage and hiking trail that starts from Canterbury in England and goes to Rome. For the most motivated (and those who have the time!), a variant even extends the trail in Puglia to Santa Maria di Leuca on the heel of Italy's boot.

Heading for Italy.

At a time when hiking is on the rise, I wanted to change the (too) practiced GR. I wanted to mix hiking and traveling. I discovered the Via Francigena. A still little-known nugget, no less splendid. It is a very culturally rich path offering a wide variety of landscapes. This last criterion is important in my opinion when you undertake a long walk.

My goal was to go to Rome. Not having time to leave Canterbury, due to lack of time, I left Pavia near Milan. 779 km of roads separated me from my arrival in Rome. 5 regions, each more beautiful than the other. Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Tuscany and Lazio.

My motivations ?

  • The trek. I've wanted to do a long-term traveling hike for a long time. But there was no question for me of walking on paths that I already knew.
  • The richness of Italian cultural heritage. Gastronomy among others. And then the colorful facades, the churches on every street corner, the laundry drying on the windows... You see?

  • The route.

    The stages between Pavia and Rome range from 15 km to 35 km. The altitude difference is moderate most of the time except on certain stages towards Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. The highest point is the Col de la Cisa, which is located at just over 1000 m above sea level. Some stages offer very beautiful views. Others, less steep, are no less splendid. We alternate between hills of olive trees, cypress paths, Alpine pastures, rocky paths and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Postcard landscapes, but without the tourists. The dream :).

    Not to mention the villages with a rich cultural heritage. Siena, Bolsena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Sutri... So many gems that bear witness to the wealth of Italy. And obviously the sumptuous Rome.

    As for gastronomy, I haven't told you about it but is it really necessary?

    Concerning the duration of my trip, I left for a month and a half but the Pavia - Rome section is usually done in 33 stages, or 33 days. I stayed one more day in the villages that were worth lingering.

    For the precise route, I highly recommend the official Via Francigena app. It's free and very well done. There you will find the route step by step. You can even download the tracks in advance and view them offline.

    “To travel happily, travel light” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    When it came to sleeping, my priority was to travel light above all else. So I opted for the pilgrim dormitories and left my tent and sleeping bag at home. It allowed me to travel for a month and a half with a 30 liter Osprey bag . I only took a meat bag which I used alone when it was hot, and which I slipped under a blanket from the lodge when it was cold. Traveling light made walking very pleasant. I never regretted my choice and I didn't want for anything, even with little business. Remember that when you go on a trek, you more often have too much stuff than not enough. The main thing is to be well equipped. And for that, is here to find you the best gear. ;)

    You will have understood, the Via Francigena is worth the detour. If you have the opportunity to go for a long period of time I can only recommend it but if you have little time you can just as easily do part of the journey. In this case, I strongly advise you to prioritize the south of Emilia-Romagna, Liguria and Tuscany which in my opinion are the most beautiful regions.

    I hope you are already preparing your best Italian accent and checking what gear you are missing using our checklist .

    See you soon!


    Article written by Solenn de Muule on July 26, 2023.

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