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Why I'm Hiking the Via Francigena in Italy 03/04/2016

The Via Francigena is a medieval trail that originally went from Canterbury in England through France into Italy ending in Rome. Have you heard of it? I hadn't until recently.

Readers may remember that I hiked the Chemin de Compostelle (the French portion of the "Camino")a total of 763 km in two-week increments over 4 years! We were a group of 4: my husband, two great friends and I. We walked from Le Puy-en-Velay(famous for its lentils) to St. Jean Pied de Port(at the foot of the Pyrenées) and then into Spain at Roncevaux(with its beautiful monastery). Of course, the Camino, the famous Spanish portion, then called to us. So in 2014, we hiked the end portion only of the Camino from Pontferrada to Santiago, a total of 200km.

After completing that, we wondered where to go next. Going back and doing the beginning of the Camino, seemed anticlimactic. So we remembered that over the years, especially in France, we had met so many people who had hiked a variety of medieval trails. Like them, we had fallen in love with the concept: explore Europe on foot, meet local people, become a part of history. So we thought of Italy and learned that the Italians were promoting their pilgrimage trail.

Last year we hiked from Fidenza (south of Milan), over the Apennines, briefly into Liguria, then through northern Tuscany ending in Lucca. We are now in love with the Via Francigena. The route is well marked, although we hardly passed any other pilgrims during our 12 days last year. Just one hardy Frenchman with whom we hiked for 2 wonderful days! That said, we didn't mind the quiet after the many many pilgrims we hiked with in Spain. But that won't last; interest is clearly growing. Even if you drive near the VF in northern Tuscany, you will see signs marking the route. This did not exist 10 years ago!

So come April, our group of 4 California pilgrims is all set to hike from Lucca to Siena. It is exciting to think of hiking through such famous villages as San Gimignano and Monteriggioni. I'll tell more in subsequent blog posts.



 




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