Via Francigena (The Italian Camino)

Guided Walk from Tuscany to Rome   

Day One:  Meet in Orvieto at the Grand Hotel Italia.  
With direct train service running from Rome, Orvieto is easy to reach.  It is a stunning town dating back to Etruscan times and definitely worth arriving early to explore. The Archaeological Museum is located in what was once a Papal Palace from the 1300’s where popes sought refuge from the intrigues of Rome. Here, and in ancient caves, one sees remnants of Etruscan life from 600BC and also from days of the Roman Empire
.   But Orvieto is not just about history – its wine is some of Italy’s best and the town is known for its participation in the “Slow Food” movement which emphasizes using the best local ingredients, traditional cooking methods and leisurely dining.  We meet at the hotel at 4.00 PM, have a short walk to see Orvieto then an aperitif before dinner.        GRAND HOTEL ITALIA 

Day  Two:  Radicofani to Proceno  (Overnight again in Orvieto)   20 km (can be reduced to 11) 
Our private bus takes us to our starting point on the Via Francigena at Radicofani. In this town rises one of the most impressive medieval fortresses of Italy. In the days of pilgrimage the castle was the symbol of defence. The town was a stopover and safe haven for pilgrims and stories are told of the Italian version of Robin Hood, Ghino di Tacco,  the "Gentleman Bandit" who robbed the rich but spared the poor.  Today's walk from Radicofani is through one of most wild and beautiful sections of the Via Francigena with Mount Amiata in the background.  At the hamlet of Ponte a Rigo our bus awaits and after lunch there is an option of another 9 km walk to the town of Proceno (Those who wish can continue by our support  bus). Although Procena changed rulers frequently over the centuries, today the small town appears little altered since medieval times.   Return by coach to Orvieto.  GRAND HOTEL ITALIA

Day Three:   Acquapendente to Bolsena  19 km  (can be reduced to 11)

Today we start our walk at Acquapendente.  In the middle ages a Benedictine monastery was built here and it became a stopping place for pilgrims.  The town was known as the "Jerusalem of Europe" because its cathedral was said to contain fragments of stone from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Our starting point is actually a few km outside the town. The challenge walkers start here while the easy walkers continue by bus to San Lorenzo Nuovo.  The longer walk passes
through a territory which is rich in Etruscan archaeological finds.  From San Lorenzo di Nuovo  it is an easy 11 km walk to the town of Bolsena and soon the sparkling waters of Lake Bolsena come into view.  Arriving in Bolsena there is a chance to visit Monaldeschi Castle and a museum dedicated to the original Etruscan settlement, the Romans and the Middle Ages.  Or you may prefer to forget history and enjoy the lakeside cafes and gelato shops along the promenade.  Overnight at the lakefront  HOTEL LORIANA PARK

Day Four: Bolsena to Montefiascone  18 km (can be reduced to 12)

From Bolsena to Montefiascone the Via Francigena leads through lovely countryside, wooded areas  and olive groves that produce some of Italy’s finest olive oil. Some of the walk is on what was once a Roman road and one can still see original Roman paving stones.  The walled town of Montefiascone is atop a hill with views of the lovely surrounding countryside and it has changed little since medieval times.  You can visit the cathedral and admire the frescoes depicting early martyrs or you can explore the remains of the old Papal summer residence.
 If you sample the local wine you will no doubt hear the story of how it got its name “Est!Est!!Est!!!”.  Legends says that a medieval bishop who was travelling the Via Francigena sent his valet ahead to choose lodging that would serve good wine. The valet was to mark the door with a secret code “est” (Latin for “it is”).  When the valet came to Montefiascone he found  the wine so good he wrote “Est! Est!! Est!!!”.  Local vintners have kept that name and the town still has a reputation for its  wine   We return for the night to HOTEL LORIANA PARK

Day Five:  Montefiascone to Viterbo  12 km

Today’s walk is short so we can reach Viterbo with enough time and energy to explore the town.  The walk is on a plain that divides Lake Bolsena from the Cimini Mountains and a highlight is the Bagnaccio thermal pools where we have a chance for a dip or at least to dabble our toes in the six steamy therapeutic  pools. From the pools we travel by bus to avoid walking through suburbs of Viterbo and to give us time to explore this
well preserved medieval town. Every twist and turn of the old quarter's narrow streets provides a feast for the eyes. There are several great museums, beautiful churches and pretty piazzas to enjoy but and the biggest attraction is the Papal Palace. Viterbo is called "La Citta' dei Papi" (the City of Popes) and we hear stories of popes and anti-popes, treachery and intrigue. The small museum has displays of Cathedral relics including a reliquary which claims to contain the chin of John the Baptist. But there is more to Viterbo than history and relics.  The centre of the town is a treasure trove of gelaterias, cafes, piazzas and fountains.     HOTEL MINI PALACE

Day Six: Viterbo to Vetralla  18 km (can be reduced to 12)
This morning’s walk starts just outside Viterbo through a canyon cut into soft rock. It then takes us through pretty farmland, mostly flat, with views of the hills in the distance.  As we near Vetralla we encounter an old church which is built on the ruins of an ancient staging post that, in medieval times, offered hospitality to pilgrims and travellers, including  Archbishop Sigeric (the first person to map the trail) in the year 990.  The approach to Vetralla is uphill and  local legend says that in Biblical times Noah, escaping the flood, ran his Ark aground here and availed himself of the excellent wines.  From Vetralla we return to Viterbo for the night but we take a side-trip to the town of Caprarola where we find the spectacular Renaissance mansion of Villa Farnese, once home of the powerful Farnese family.   The region around Caprarola is famous for its production of hazelnuts so if you are a fan of Nutella you will love Nutella (hazelnut/chocolate) gelato.  HOTEL MINI PALACE

Day Seven: Vetralla to Sutri   20 km (can be reduced to 14)

This morning our bus returns us to Vetralla to continue our walk. Today’s trail starts through hazelnut groves and then is on shady forest trails through a nature reserve.  Eventually we pass the "Torri d'Orlando", three ruined towers built along the ancient Via Cassia. The towers were once Roman tombs and there is a legend surrounding them that dates back to Roland, one of Charlemagne’s warriors.  The last part of the trail as we approach Sutri is along a stream in the woods and then we find the picturesque town of Sutri. During Roman times it occupied a commanding position on the road to Etruria and one can still see a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre built in the year 1 BC, an Etruscan necropolis from 600 BC and a Cathedral that incorporates an ancient Mithraeum that dates back to Roman times and worship of the mysterious god Mithras.   HOTEL ANTICO BORGO

Day Eight: Sutri to Campagnano di Roma   23 km (can be shortened to 12 km)
From Sutri the Via Francigena leads us along quiet country lanes and forest trails to the town of Monterosi. Here you may want to sample the delicious local specialty "pizzantiella" which is best described as crepes stuffed with local cheese and sausage. From here the trail continues to Monte Gelato, a lovely wooded area with pretty waterfalls and then on to the town of Campagnano di Roma. This town's medieval borgo has narrow winding streets lined with pastel coloured palazzi, shops and coffee bars.     Il POSTIGLIONE

Day Nine: Campagnano di Roma to Formello 10 km  Monte Mario to St Peters 7 km
Today's walk starts through Veio Park, a 70 sq km nature reserve.  At  the town of Formello our bus awaits us. By using the bus for this section we avoid the entry into Rome and the traffic. The bus takes us as far as the lovely Monte Mario Park and from here the Via Francigena descends along Via Trionfale to St Peters Square. Those who wish to collect a "Testimonium" certificate can do so at the "Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi".  From St Peters we continue  a few blocks on foot to our hotel and later gather at the roof-top restaurant with its panoramic view of the eternal city of Rome for a celebratory dinner.

Day Ten:   Depart 

Via Francigena Itinerary
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