The Via Francigena
Which translates to “the road that comes from France,” is known as one of the three big Christian pilgrimages along with the pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem and the Spanish Camino de Santiago.
The ancient road’s starting point is at the Canterbury Cathedral in southern England and makes its way through Kent, northern France’s battlefields, the Swiss Alps peaks, down towards Italy’s Aosta Valley and then Tuscany and Lazio before it finally ends at St Peter’s Basilica.
There is no other path in which the pilgrims have travelled from Canterbury all the way to the tomb of St. Peter and Paul in Rome or from Canterbury to the Terra Santa. Via Francigena is a path that pulled multiple roads that the pilgrims walked on as they entered from the areas in Europe towards Italy. That was the case until the 1980s, Italian researchers stumbled upon a journal of an abbot named Sigerico, a Bishop of Canterbury in 990, wherein they were able to identify a real route. They believed that Sigerico was the first person ever to finish the pilgrimage. His journal also described that there are 80 different stops between Canterbury and Rome, wherein 15 of them are in Tuscany, which ranges a total of 1,700km and around 20km per day. The Via Francigena is unlike the other ancient Roman roads since it connects the abbeys and important Christian places of worship along the road towards Rome. Since a lot of people are getting interested in the pilgrimage, it then became a route that is filled with trade posts and eventually paved way to the rebirth of European commerce.
Even today, people are still travelling the Via Francigena
Whether it may be on foot, bike, or a horseback. There are lots of areas of interest along the way which comprises of natural features and spectacular landscapes to architectural treasures and artistic wonders. This is a great example of slow travel wherein the pilgrims will get to experience affordable accommodation and great hospitality. It was also given award by the UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition, and there’s a lot of investment being put into it just to ensure that any developments made along the route are sustainable by the environment.
The section of the Via Francigena in Tuscany starts at the Cisa Pass in Pontremoli wherein it follows a mule track towards the Pieve di Sorano in Filattiera before it continues to the Aulla, Massa, and Pietrasanta, and Camaiore in Versilia, on one side of the Apuan Alps. The route continues through Lucca where pilgrims can make a stop at the cathedral. From that point, those who take the route in the Via Francigena will make their way to Porcari, Altopascio, and Fucecchio, before they cross the Amo River and visit San Miniato. The path will then go to the Val d’Elsa road, over the hilltops covered with vineyard through a path that is lined with olive trees and cultivated farmland. Pilgrims will continue their travel through San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Siena, Val d’Arbia, and Buonconvento. Upon reaching Val d’Orcia, pilgrims will come across the medieval villages of Bagno Vignoni, San Quirico, and Radicofani.
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