Via francigena walk here is the advice of those who have walked this historic street. We talked about the problems related to shoes, the foot (especially blisters), how to prepare and WHAT TO WEAR DURING THE WALK WITH Marco Giovannelli.
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The Via Francigena is a pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. The Italian section moves from the Great St. Bernard and covers a total of 44 stages crossing Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany Lazio.
We asked who the Via Francigena has traveled for real and very recently (colleagueMarco Giovannelli , director of Varesenews.it, which covered the Italian section between the CISA and Roma , half of our national path, 22 stages) a bit ‘of advice and tips , to give way at all to deal with this path more consciously.
How did you prepare for this adventure? Have you read anything?
I read virtually everything in trading on the Francigena: books, journals, but the advice is to talk to someone who has done it , and share his questions and his doubts to him directly.
I found interesting the guides Brizzi ( The Diaries of the Via Francigena , € 18.50), which is a kind of hybrid between travel narrative and guidance, and the Touring ( Via Francigena. In the footsteps of Sigerico, the Gran San Bernardo to the holy places of Rome , € 18.70).
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But no guide will anticipate what you are faced with on the course. Council to view more than maps or total mileage of the individual paths different altitudes : there is a remarkable difference between walking on level ground than to make a lot of uphill and downhill and short lines as the first of the Cisa, they have a substantial height difference. Often then the cities that conclude the stage are in a raised position, as normal for villages often of medieval origin, which means that you find yourself doing a heavy final stretch, maybe after 30 km, to reach the hostel. It should be taken into account when planning the stops: best not to let too many km in the last part of the day, when you are more tired, because what may seem like a short section at the end of the day can become a real challenge to be overcome.
I had with me also the app SloWays (you download from visit.
Our site/it) with GPS for maps: These can be pre-loaded on the phone so as to be available also without Internet coverage. The suggestion is still to have on the way the guide map (I used that itinerAria which is divided into two parts, Gran San Bernardo-Cisa Cisa-Rome, and it is practical, pocket-sized, cost € 9.35 each) with detailed maps and elevation profiles. It will also be useful to arrange the stops during the individual stages.
In any case the planning is essential: I was leaving very early (hardly more than 6 am) to avoid the great heat, I foresaw stops for a second breakfast and lunch in a small town in which I could also buy food and drinks.
How did you prepare the backpack?
Here much it depends on the season of the year where we face the pilgrimage: in the winter you will have a lot more baggage but I invite you to do the Francigena from March onwards.
In summer, a time when I addressed myself (from 20 June to 11 July) the need to take really can be reduced to the essential: even a change (but better bring two), a bed sheet for the beds you welcome in different hostels or silk sleeping bag . As for clothing should you choose technical material, including underwear : washes and dries easily.
There is no difficulty to wash clothes: come to the end of each stage you clean what you wore and for the night of using the exchange rate that will remain on him already for the next day. For drying in the summer there are no problems: the limit on cold or rainy you can hang the backpack clothes washed with clothespins to dry directly on the way.If you do a very long way, over perhaps 20 days, it is certainly advisable to do a day of rest to wash all the “classical” way and maybe take a little ‘rest.
For clothes and linens you will have to add a small kit for emergencies (see next note) and a microfiber towel . Then there will be space for water (but there are many fountains and many shops where you can stock on the track) and for the part of the food needed during the day.
The backpack should be lightweight, 7.8 kg is ideal, because as far as we choose carefully will always be something to carry around, and that weighs us on the backpack, as on the shoes, the better to spare no expense and take an appropriate on the advice an experienced trader. It completes everything with hiking sticks, a multipurpose boxcutter, a cap for the sun.
You were, you told me, an emergency kit. In what consisted?
Patches, compeed for groped to soothe the blisters problem. It may be useful to also have some painkillers. And a reserve is necessary amino acids and minerals : are fine those found in supermarkets.
Essential then the sun cream : you are many hours in the sun, even 7-8 on longer stretches, the protection is absolutely necessary.
As you develop the itinerary you’ve path?
Each stage has its peculiarities: we are almost “mountain” as the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Some with many stretches of asphalt like those in the Apuan area (less interesting).
The asphalt-gravel ratio is about 50% -50% , but in general the track is of extreme beauty and wonderful places through the natural and architectural point of view (San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca, Monteriggioni, San Miniato …).
The trails are well marked?
Yes, in general there is no problem: both dirt roads than in urban ones the number of reports and signs are adequate and well-groomed.
How it is organized the welcome of the pilgrims?
There are essentially four types of accommodation that can be found on the Via Francigena: the hostels, the guesthouses (local homes or public buildings used for the temporary admission of wayfarers), monasteries and various religious buildings. And then bed & breakfast and traditional hotel . The list of all these is located on the site of the Via Francigena. I have almost always made use of the first three types, except for a stage where I stayed in a B & B.
They are spartan and basic but decent. A bed (often in shared dorm), the shower, the bathroom . They are managed in many cases by volunteers who give their time to 1-2 weeks a year and help to keep open the places of welcome for the pilgrims. With thepilgrim’s credential (available for purchase online or in some hostels and Apt), a document certifying that the person is making a pilgrimage to a holy place, you receive welcome in designated facilities. The prices are always very contained , sometimes you sleep simply leaving a free offer.
The services, as mentioned, are essential in some cases you have access to a kitchen and free use in hostels often there is also the catering service. But after a long journey it is really essential to the water to wash. And that there is always .