Long distance walks are one of my favourite ways to explore, a completely different perspective on a country’s culture, countryside and communities. I’ve done a few of these walks in England, but none yet in Italy. But a new guide from Cicerone, Walking The Via Francigena From Lucca To Rome, could be just the inspiration I need.
Walking The Via Francigena: A Comprehensive Guidebook
This book is a complete guide to everything you need to know when walking the Via Francigena in Italy. It is fully illustrated, a mixture of history, travel information and practical details.
From Lucca To Rome
The full route of the Via Francigena is 2000 km, following the journey of Bishop Sigerio who set out from Canterbury to visit the Pope in Rome in 990 CE. In 1994 the route was recreated as an official route, an amenity for pilgrims, tourists and hikers.
Few people walk the whole 2000 km! The book covers the 410 km section from Lucca to the Vatican City. This section (or part of it) is ideal for those who want a shorter walk through the spectacular countryside, towns and villages of Tuscany and Lazio.
Charting The Route
The walk passes through several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, medieval towns and villages. The book includes descriptions of each day’s walk together with an indication of its difficulty and information about places to explore along the way.
There is enough description here to whet the appetite. For example we have Tuscany’s “vineyards and wineries spread out over low, rolling hills outlined with tall cypress trees and olive groves as far as the eye can see”. And there are descriptions of the places you pass through, with a bit of historical detail.
This might be a long distance walk, but you are sometimes recommended to linger. After all, the route passes through Tuscan highlights like San Gimignano and Siena, to say nothing of the numerous villages, churches and vineyards you will encounter each day.
Who Should Buy This Book?
If you have decided to walk the Via Francigena, this is the ideal handbook for you. It is a book to inspire you before you set out, and to assist with your planning.
It is also a book to carry with you. It is full of practical information that you can use while you are walking. There are suggestions for places to eat and sleep. And snippets of useful information, like the places where you might choose to use a train to skip miles of busy roadside walking.
Route maps and walking directions are provided for guidance. However, the trail is well signposted and detailed maps should not be necessary.
Is This The Right Walk For You?
But first you have to decide whether this is the right walk for you. The book says it is suitable for “anyone who is of average or better fitness”. It divides the trail into sections averaging around 20 km a day. However you need to remember that there are hills, and that you may wish to avoid the heat of the summer months.
There is also the question of luggage: many people on the trail carry their own bags as they walk. However, baggage transport is available and there is a list of carriers in the practical information at the end of the book.
If you conclude that the full walk is not suitable for you, you could decide just to walk small sections of the route. This book would serve equally as a guide for shorter day walks.
Buying The Cicerone Guide
You can buy Walking the Via Francigena from Lucca to Rome online from Amazon. If you are tempted to walk the full length of the Via Francigena there are two further titles in the series – Canterbury to the St Bernard Pass and St Bernard Pass to Lucca.