The Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage route that connects Canterbury in England to Rome in Italy. It follows the path traditionally taken by pilgrims from Northern Europe to the Eternal City.
The Via Francigena has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages when it was one of the major pilgrimage routes alongside the Camino de Santiago. It was primarily used by Christian pilgrims who wished to visit the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome. The route was first documented by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric the Serious, in the 10th century.
The Via Francigena crosses several countries and regions, including France, Switzerland, and Italy. It is characterized by rural landscapes, country roads, medieval villages, and historical sites along the route. Today, the Via Francigena is still traveled by pilgrims, hikers, and travelers who wish to experience the beauty of the places it passes through and follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims.
The complete route of the Via Francigena is approximately 1,900 kilometers long, but it is possible to cover shorter sections or specific segments depending on preferences and available time. Along the route, accommodations such as hostels, bed and breakfasts, and shelters are available to accommodate pilgrims on their journey. Additionally, the itinerary is marked by specific signs and indications, facilitating navigation along the route.
The Via Francigena can also be traveled by bicycle
Offering a different and exciting experience for cycling enthusiasts. However, it is important to note that the route is not entirely suitable for bicycles and includes various variants and sections that are suitable for cycling.
The main route of the Via Francigena follows country roads, secondary roads, and, in some sections, unpaved trails. Some sections may be challenging for cycling, with steep climbs, rough terrain, or less-than-ideal pavement. It is therefore advisable to have good cycling experience and a bicycle suitable for mixed road and off-road conditions.
It is also important to consider the logistics of cycling along the Via Francigena. There are several accommodation options along the route, such as hostels, bed and breakfasts, agriturismos, and campsites, which can be booked in advance or found along the way depending on preferences. Additionally, it is recommended to plan daily stages and have a map or guidebook of the route to navigate along the journey.
Many cycle tourists prefer to ride only a portion of the Via Francigena or select specific sections they wish to explore by bicycle. This allows them to tailor the route based on their abilities, time, and interests. In any case, it is always helpful to do proper preparation, gather information about the route conditions, and consider weather conditions and supply needs along the way.
Cycling the Via Francigena offers the opportunity to discover stunning landscapes, historical cities, picturesque villages, and the cultural heritage along the route. It is an unforgettable adventure that allows you to experience the medieval pilgrimage in a modern form, taking advantage of the benefits of cycling to cover longer distances and enjoy an active and immersive experience.
Here is a possible complete itinerary of the Via Francigena by bicycle with the main stages along the route.
This itinerary covers the entire journey from the start in Canterbury, England, to the arrival in Rome, Italy. Keep in mind that you can customize the route and stages based on your preferences, fitness level, and available time.
Stage 1: Canterbury (England) to Calais (France)
Stage 2: Calais to Arras
Stage 3: Arras to Reims
Stage 4: Reims to Bar-sur-Aube
Stage 5: Bar-sur-Aube to Langres
Stage 6: Langres to Besançon
Stage 7: Besançon to Pontarlier
Stage 8: Pontarlier to Lausanne (Switzerland)
Stage 9: Lausanne to Martigny
Stage 10: Martigny to Grand-Saint-Bernard
Stage 11: Grand-Saint-Bernard to Aosta (Italy)
Stage 12: Aosta to Ivrea
Stage 13: Ivrea to Vercelli
Stage 14: Vercelli to Pavia
Stage 15: Pavia to Piacenza
Stage 16: Piacenza to Fidenza
Stage 17: Fidenza to Fornovo di Taro
Stage 18: Fornovo di Taro to Pontremoli
Stage 19: Pontremoli to Aulla
Stage 20: Aulla to Sarzana
Stage 21: Sarzana to Lucca
Stage 22: Lucca to San Miniato
Stage 23: San Miniato to Gambassi Terme
Stage 24: Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano
Stage 25: San Gimignano to Monteriggioni
Stage 26: Monteriggioni to Siena
Stage 27: Siena to San Quirico d’Orcia
Stage 28: San Quirico d’Orcia to Radicofani
Stage 29: Radicofani to Acquapendente
Stage 30: Acquapendente to Bolsena
Stage 31: Bolsena to Montefiascone
Stage 32: Montefiascone to Viterbo
Stage 33: Viterbo to Vetralla
Stage 34: Vetralla to Sutri
Stage 35: Sutri to Campagnano di Roma
Stage 36: Campagnano di Roma to Rome
This list of stages represents a possible breakdown of the route along the Via Francigena, but you can customize it based on your preferences and travel needs. Make sure to plan reasonable daily stages, taking into account the distances and route conditions. Also, be sure to check the cycling variants and book accommodations along the route in advance if necessary. Have a great journey along the Via Francigena by bicycle!