The Via Francigena to Rome
The Via Francigena from Lausanne to Rome
The reanimation of the ancient pilgrimage route between Canterbury and Rome began in the 1990’s after the discovery of a diary written by Archbishop Sigeric who travelled to Rome (ca 990AD) to collect his stole of office – the Pallium – from the Pope. The document, written in Latin, is now in the British Museum.
The 1800km route starts at Canterbury, passes through France, Switzerland and Italy and ends at the Vatican. We (5 friends) started our pilgrimage to Rome on Lake Geneva, crossed the Alps at the Gr St Bernard Pass and walked through the Aosta Valley, Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Tuscany and Lazio to Rome. Unlike the camino de Santiago, there are few pilgrim refuges along the way and very little way marking.
The average age of the VF five was 55 years. We walked for an average of 25km per day - 27 days and one day off. We walked across two passes, the Grand St Bernard – 2469m and the Cisa Pass -1050m.
The longest day was 11.5 hours and the longest distance was 36.3km. We walked through over 210 villages and towns and crossed more than 150 rivers. We crossed a variety of bridges, metal, wood, hanging, stone, Roman etc.
The town with the lowest altitude was Lucca at 19m and the place with the highest altitude was the Grand St Bernard Pass at 2472m. We climbed from 587m at La Douay to 2472m at the Grand St Bernard Pass in 11.5 hours covering 28kms.
On some days the temperatures reached +40C. Our backpacks weighed between 8kg and 10kg. We stayed in a backpackers, a hospice, a campsite, a gite, a castle, on a farm, three youth hostels, nine B&Bs, two convents, six hotels (one a converted monastery) and two apartments - mostly in 2-bed and 3-bed rooms.
We lost a variety of items on the route: water bottles, walking stick, cap, sunglasses, cloths, guidebook, air ticket as well as a few kilos in body weight.
Although we didn’t have an English guide book, at no time did we actually get lost – only confused a couple of times - usually when following the VF signs along the way.
You can find our more at www.vfpilgrims.blogspot.com and