La Francigena
dei Pellegrini








La Via Francigena

The Via Francigena
for English Pilgrims


La Confraternita di S.Jacopo di Compostella

Chiesa dei Padri Antoniani (Ospitalieri del Tau)
S. Antonio di Ranverso (TO)

The Via Francigena is the route coming from "France". In ancient times, the name was used for different routes that lead to Italy from the North West. The main routes leading to Italy have been rediscovered and are now used by pilgrims: one route is going to and coming from Santiago de Compostela. Arriving from Spain and South of France this route enters Italy from the Monginevro Pass, then crosses Val di Susa, and goes beyond Turin to Vercelli. The other is the route used by pilgrims coming from the North of Europe through France and across the Great St. Bernard Pass and Aosta it goes to Vercelli as well.
Here the routes merge and the road becomes one, it goes to Rome passing through Pavia, Piacenza, Fidenza, Cisa Pass, Pontremoli, Lucca, Siena, Bolsena and Viterbo. A third route that starting from Ventimiglia follows the Ligurian Coast reaches the Via Francigena near Sarzana, in Tuscany; many pilgrims are beginning to use this route. These many stages are full of history about the Via Francigena.

Scendendo verso Ponte a Rigo
Radicofani (SI)

The Via Francigena was recordered for the first time in an ancient document dated A.D. 876 that was kept in the Abbey of St. Salvatore on Monte Amiata. In this document the route is mentioned as passing through the area of Val d'Orcia, taking the same route of the Via Cassia, in the stretch of road on the slope of Radicofani near Posta di Ricorsi. The latin document reads: "... perfossatu descendente usque in via Francisca".

It mentioned Via Francisca, that is the Via Francigena. The document is a lease by which the monks rented to someone called Gisalprando a farmland that was bounded by a ditch that went down to border the Via Francigena.
For scholars the first time something is mentioned it is very important: it is like a birth certificate, the first source. So, in A.D. 876 it was already known that the route from and to France was taking pilgrims and wayfarers to Rome and either to Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela: it was alive and called, as nowadays, the Via Francigena.
To the modern pilgrim the Via Francigena offers many surprises: you may walk across beautiful landscapes, find wonderful places and people, needless to say that Italy is a beautiful country. It is important to have a good guide, written by Italians who know the true needs of the pilgrim and who can propose the best solutions in such a complex reality.

"Guida alla Via Francigena" by Monica D'Atti e Franco Cinti (Terre di Mezzo Editore, Milano, 2006) describes the route and available facilities in detail. The route has been walked more than once by the authors that were looking for the best and more logical solutions for the walking pilgrim, being close to the historical route as much as possible.

Basolato Romano dopo Montefiascone
Montefiascone (VT)

Unfortunately in several places the route is not properly marked yet and often signs designed for tourists can deceive the pilgrim who walks or rides a bike. The indicated hostels have all been contacted and/or visited personally by the guide's authors. The latest news, information and tips are available on the web site . The Via Francigena is progressing, growing and opening itself to the true pilgrim.

Some aspects are very important for the pilgrim who wishes to walk along the Via Francigena: to know that a group of volunteers called Custodi della Via Francigena" are signposting the route at their own expenses. The sign is represented by a "pellegrinetto giallo" a small yellow pilgrim, with a white arrow if the sign is pointing to Rome or a yellow arrow if pointing to Santiago de Compostela. It has been decided to signpost the route in both directions because pilgrims walk it in both directions. This signs can be found along the following stretches: from Chivasso to Lamporo, from Vercelli to S. Cristina (beyond Pavia), from Piacenza to Fomovo, from Pieve di Bordone to Cisa Pass (signposted by C AI, that is Club Alpino Italiano) and from Sarzana to Rome there will be few signals.

Another important aspect to know is which kind of accommodation is available. Everywhere in Italy it is possible to find hotels, pensions and "agriturismi" holidays farms. Their addresses can be found in tourist guides and in web sites. For those walking with the traditional spirit of the pilgrim that take in pilgrims are listed in the guide and signalled in the web site Such places are indicated with the acronym OP (it means "accommodation for poor" or "accommodation for pilgrims"). This kind of accommodation is suitable for travellers with mat and sleeping bag. The accommodation offered can be anything from just a space under a roof to a single room or an outbuilding in a farm or a dormitory. Leaving an offer even if you are not asked to it is a good rule. We recommend you to call a day or two in advance to let know of your arrival. Many places are not always available. Remember that the pilgrim should have the ability to adapt himself almost to any situation, should be well behaved and should be patient. Finding "doors open or closed" might depend on the behaviour of people who have been there before you: this is another way to build up the Via Francigena.

We suggest you to bring always the "credential", as pilgrims do for the Camino de Santiago. You can ask the credential to you Confraternity or to your Diocese. In some places the credential is required while other places are not yet aware of the existence of such "identification paper for pilgrims", we believe that having one is a sign of propriety for the true pilgrim. In Italy, the "Confraternita di San Jacopo di Compostella" in Perugia is pleased to issue such credential for a pilgrimage with spiritual purposes or "devotionis causa" with true faith.

To sum up this short introduction we wish to invite you to share with us the emotions you will feel along the route by contacting us at; to find more information, please read the guide and visit the other web pages in Italian.


Monica e Franco

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