Via Francigena (Canterbury to Rome)

A 1900 km historic route running north to south from Canterbury to Rome. 
N.B. The CSJ’s sister organisation, the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, is the leading authority on pilgrimages to Rome.  You can visit their website here: http://www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk/

The Route. The Via Francigena is one of the classic pilgrimage routes.  A 1900 km journey, through England, France, Switzerland and Italy from Canterbury (or even London) to Rome.  There is also a branch starting in Arles and leading via Vercelli which joins the Caminos de Santiago.  It follows the general direction taken by pilgrims to Rome in previous centuries although alternative paths are used in places where the original route has now become a modern road.  The “Via Francigena” (i.e. “French Way”) is first mentioned in a parchment in the abbey of San Salvatore al Monte Amiata in 876 AD.

Waymarking. The route is not waymarked at all in France yet. But it is waymarked as TP70 (a long-distance walking route) all through Switzerland; and in Italy the pilgrim route is now reasonably well waymarked throughout (in both directions).

Terrain.  The surfaces are normally easy to walk on with much on minor roads (a number of farm tracks are in fact tarmac now). Much of the initial part of the route through France is quite flat.  The highest point of the route is the Great Saint Bernard Pass at 2469m. Cyclists will need to take minor roads or dedicated cycle tracks for much of the route.

Weather/When to go. Allow about three months to walk the entire route (it is about 85 days without stops).  May to October is best but remember to time the crossing of the Great Saint Bernard Pass between June – September.  The area near the Italian coast is very busy in August.  There is a wide range of temperature according to height, latitude and seaso

Accommodation.  There are plenty of B&Bs and hotels, but little refugio type accommodation, especially in France, some youth hostels and  campsites and monasteries.  In Italy, however, and in a few places in Switzerland, an increasing number of parishes now provide very simple accommodation in church halls, former schools etc., where a sleeping bag is needed though at present most of them cannot accommodate large numbers of pilgrims at any one time.

  • Eurovia (https://pilgershop.via-francigena.com/) publishes a (hard-copy) guide to accommodation on the Italian section of the route, particularly the simpler end of the scale.  This, the Unterkunftsliste, is in German but its layout makes it very easy to use.
  • Details of accommodation (of all types) for the Swiss and Italian sections of the route are given in the Guide-Vademecum, together with places offering discounts to pilgrims, provided by the AIVF (Association Internationale Via Francigena) pilgrim association: Web site: http://www.francigena-international.org/

Guide books: The CSJ’s selection of guide books to the Via Francigena are available from our online shop. In addition, there are some resources from the Association Via Francigena (http://www.viefrancigene.org/en/)

Maps: Some very good maps of the Italian section are now available –

Monica D’Atti & Franco Cinti, La Via Francigena.  Cartografia e GPS.  Dal Monginevro a  Roma lungo l’itinerario storico, Milan: Terre di Mezzo Editore, 2015.  ISBN: 978-88-8985-60-9 and later editions. - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Via-Francigena-Cartografia-30-000-GPS/dp/8861893392
3 large sheets of maps in a set, covering the 800km from the Monginevro Pass over the Alps to Rome at a scale of 1:30.000, i.e. nearly two and a half inches to the mile.  In full colour there are 40 detailed maps covering all the stages of the journey, with the walkers’ route traced on them, height profiles, types of roads/paths used and complete GPS data.  Designed initially to accompany the authors’ own guide book (see above) the only drawback (at present) is that those wishing to follow the “Sigeric route” (i.e. cross the Alps via the Great St. Bernard Pass) will have to wait till Vercelli (150km into the Italian part of the route) before they can use them.

The Testimonium. A parchment in limited edition, created and offered by the AIVF, is available from the sacristy of St Peter’s Basilica, to pilgrims who have walked at least from Acquapendente (130km) or cycled from Lucca (400km).

©CSJ

Confraternity of Saint James,
27 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NY, United Kingdom.
Tel: (+44) (0)20 7928 9988
Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered no. 4096721 — UK Registered Charity no. 1091140
Founded in 1983 to promote the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela

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