For centuries, routes through Italy have been traversed as a matter of absolute dedication by millions of pilgrims. In particular, ancient routes in the peninsula have attracted travellers from every corner of Europe. The destination, usually a sacred site, was crucial to each and every one of these, but often the journey itself was of equal importance.
Travelling on foot denotes exceptional significance to these journeys, nothing is rushed and reaching the destination is a slow dedicated process. Walking allows the individual to think and it is believed that the long journey allows each pilgrim to prepare for their arrival at the sacred site. The fatigue, determination and often, pain required to complete such a journey transforms this experiences into quite the conquest.
Some of these routes are still accessible today and are a fantastic addition to any adventurous Italian holiday in which visitors are keen to travel off the beaten track. The main route of pilgrimage in Italy is called Via Francigena. The name derives from France, where the route begins, although it has also been suggested that path actually begins from Canterbury Cathedral. The destination of this challenging journey is, of course, Rome’s Holy See.
Interest in the Via Francigena has grown recently on the wave of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage path. The infrastructure of the Via Francigena is not as developed as its Spanish counterpart, but does cross some of the most delightful towns in Italy. When planning to travel through Italy by foot, this path is a wonderful source of inspiration. Why not choosing a small section of the Via Francigena running through Tuscany?
The route runs through Lucca, where you can admire the town’s gorgeous Renaissance walls. A very interesting section of the path also links the medieval town of San Gimignano with Monteriggioni and then Siena. San Gimignano and Monteriggioni are two of the most picturesque walled medieval towns in Italy, both surrounded by gentle rolling hills, they lie in the province of Siena, famous for the Palio and for its red brick buildings surrounding the main square Piazza del Campo.
The Via Francigena route allows you to explore another side to Italy, combining sightseeing in well loved cities with walks in the rural countryside. There is no better place to be discovered on foot than Tuscany!
Blog by Bibianna Norek