Rome to Canterbury on the Via Francigena
The Via Francigena has had several names over the centuries. The route was originally known as the Via di Monte Bardone which appears to have been the easiest route to travel to or from Rome over the Appenines. As more and more pilgrims headed to Rome, the name changed. According to Wikipedia, ‘the route passes through England, France, Switzerland and Italy [and was thus] known in Italy as the "Via Francigena" ("the road that comes from France") or the "Via Romea Francigena" ("the road to Rome that comes from France"). In medieval times, it was an important road and pilgrimage route for those wishing to visit the Pope and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul.’ Via Francigena was ‘first mentioned in the Actum Clusio, a parchment of 876AD in the Abbey of San Salvatore at Monte Amiata (Tuscany).'
The Via Francigena is a ~1,200+ mile medieval pilgrim route that starts in Canterbury England, crosses the English Channel at Dover to Calais, France, treks across northern France, over the Swiss Alps at St. Bernard’s Pass and ends in Rome. In 990 AD, Sigeric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, also known as Sigeric the Serious, traveled the route to be ordained by Pope John XV. On his return, he kept a journal for future pilgrims, detailing the walking route and noting all the stopping places. The route has changed over the years, but his journal is still considered the most authoritative guide to the walk. The route is well-marked, and there are hotels, hostels or sanctuaries along the entire route. It sounded like a worthy challenge and met David’s criteria for a great hike. Due to European Union visa restrictions for American citizens, we walked in the reverse direction from Rome to Canterbury.
Our goal was to walk the path between April and August of 2019. We documented the preparation, as well as the actual walk from start to finish. Join us for a phenomenal walking experience.
We documented our Via Francigena experience from start to finish. From our decision to do the walk, all the preparation involved including gear selection, learning Italian and physical training to each day’s walk along the path.
We’ve included the good days and the bad days… not every day was rainbows and lollipops. There were challenges, big and small, but none of these outweighed the splendor, the beauty and the tranquility the Via Francigena offered us.
Read along at your leisure and relive the day-to-day walk from Rome to Canterbury.
Via Francigena - Italian Section
Days walked in Italy: 44 (half the entire route) Miles walked in Italy: 678 (slightly over half the route)
Click on the thumbnail images below to walk the Via Francigena route in Italy with us. Buon camino!
Via Francigena - Swiss Section
Days walked in Switzerland: 8 Miles walked in Switzerland: 120
Via Francigena - French Section
Days walked in France: 34 Miles walked in France: 504
Click on the thumbnail images below to walk the Via Francigena route in France with us. Bon chemin!
Via Francigena - English Section
Day walked in England: 2 Miles walked in England: 30
Now that we’ve completed the Via Francigena, we’ve had the opportunity to compile some thoughts and statistics. Click on the thumbnail image to link to the associated blog. Got questions? We’re happy to share any information we have with you.
And last but not least, here are the observations and trivia that David wrote in his Blue Views of the Via Francigena… everything from how to use a bidet to stumbling upon the greatest bike race in the world.