Italy : St Francis’ Way

29 days / Self-guided walking

Florence to Rome

St Francis’ Way

Journey in the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi, one of Italy’s patron saints, while walking through some 520 kilometres of Italian countryside and mountains on this epic walk from Florence to Rome. This is wonderful walking, with very manageable ascents and descents, complemented by the striking natural beauty of woodlands, mountain peaks, rolling green hills and deep river valleys.

TRIP STYLE

Self-Guided Walking

DURATION/LENGTH

29 days/520 kms

DATES

Any date to suit you

START/END POINT

Florence to Rome

GRADING

Moderate Walk

PRICE P/P TWIN SHARE

From EURO 3,950 / AUD 6,930

Make Enquiry SAVE/PRINT ITINERARY

Experience the majesty of St Francis’ Way in full, walking from the medieval hotbed of culture, Florence, to the historic city of Rome. The trail will take you through small Tuscan villages and across the Apennine mountains, sampling unbelievable local dishes and rich Italian wines. Visiting towns of great historical and spiritual importance, including Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis, you’ll soon fall in love with the culture, cuisine and landscapes of Italy. As with any pilgrimage, you’ll no doubt wish that St Francis’ Way never ends.

Day 1 | Arrive in Florence

Welcome to Florence and St Francis’ Way – the Italian equivalent of the Camino de Santiago. Florence is a phenomenal place to start any adventure and has both a wonderful history and present, which is easily soaked up with a walk through its medieval streets and along the flowing Arno River. The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is home to many art galleries and museums, with a highlight being Michelangelo’s statue of David. We recommend taking a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset for views over the city skyline, including its famous cathedral, before indulging in some of the world’s best gelato.

Day 2 | Florence – Pontassieve | 22 km / 5 hours

St Francis’ Way officially starts at the Basilica of Santa Croce, the burial place of historical figures including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. Today you’ll walk the rises of Fiesole, a town tucked into the northern Tuscan hills, which was adored by Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and more. Here, you’ll be treated to extraordinary views of Florence below, while the fresh country air makes walking an absolute joy.

Day 3 | Pontassieve – Consuma | 19 km / 4 hours

As you’ll have no doubt discovered already, Pontassieve is home to several architectural masterpieces including the ruins of Monte Rotondo and the Church of San Martino. Departing Pontassieve, you’ll cross a 16th-century bridge and follow an ancient road to the first of today’s mountain passes. Eventually, you’ll reach Pass della Consuma, which sits at 1050 metres above sea level and is your final destination for today’s section of St Francis’ Way.

Day 4 | Consuma – Stia | 15 km / 3 hours

Today you’ll depart Consuma and the Province of Florence, crossing into the Province of Arezzo and arriving in Stia after day of mainly downhill walking. Stia, which is tucked into the verdant hills, is a quaint little village typical of St Francis’ Way and an enjoyable place to spend a relaxed evening.

Day 5 | Stia – Badia Prataglia | 25 km / 6 hours

A challenging but beautiful day awaits, beginning with a gentle ascent out of Stia. The first point of interest is the monastery and hermitage of Sacro Eremo di Camaldoli, which sits at 1200 metres above sea level and is surrounded by beautiful forests. It’s easy to imagine St Francis walking along its peaceful paths. From here, woodland trails and local roads will take you down to the mountain village of Badia Prataglia.

Day 6 | Badia Prataglia – La Verna | 18 km / 5 hours

Leaving Badia Prataglia, you’ll encounter a little more climbing as you the trail heads up to 1100 metres above sea level. It’s a testing section, but one well-rewarded once you’ve settled in at your accommodation in La Verna. This is one of the holiest places along the entire trail, home to one of the most revered Franciscan sanctuaries. It’s here that St Francis received the stigmata – the first person documented to have done so – and faith aside, the surrounding nature and marvellous buildings combine to create a peaceful place ripe for reflection.

Day 7 | La Verna – Caprese Michelangelo | 16 km / 4 hours

Continue heading up through the mountains today, topping out at a height of 1260 metres at Monte Calvano. From here, continue to Caprese Michelangelo, the birthplace of famed Renaissance artist Michelangelo. His named was added to the village’s name by royal decree in 1913. This picturesque village is located on a hilltop in the High Tiber Valley, with breathtaking views and several quality restaurants serving up the local speciality of mushrooms, or funghi. The Michelangelo Museum is open to the public, as are the house he was born in (Casa del Podesta) and the church in which he was baptised.

Day 8 | Caprese Michelangelo – Sansepolcro | 25 km / 6 hours

Today you’ll enter the Alpe della Lunna nature reserve, which is located in the heart of the Apennines. These tree-covered mountains protect many small towns and silent hamlets, while walking St Francis’ Way along the impressive ridgelines is a wonderful adventure. It’s a mysterious region where the natural beauty is matched by the locals’ warm hospitality. Your destination, Sansepolcro, is a large town founded in the 11th century, which borders the Umbria and Marche regions. It’s quintessential Italy, really, with museums, galleries, churches and some top-notch dining options to keep you fuelled after a big day’s walk.

Day 9 | Sansepolcro – Citerna | 13 km / 4 hours

Enjoy an easier, shorter day on St Francis’ Way as you walk through the flat countryside. Citerna, your destination this evening, is noted for being part of the Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia, a group of small Italian towns of great beauty and historical interest. It’s a charming little place, with plenty of tasty Tuscan wines to treat oneself with.

Day 10 | Citerna – Citta di Castello | 20 km / 5 hours

Make your way today to Citta di Castello, the main town in the upper valley of Umbria. Gastronomy, which is a highlight of a walk along St Francis’ Way, has really taken on a growing role here, with the white truffle being a celebrated local speciality. It’s a fantastic place to spend an evening and sample some local dishes. To get there, you’ll enjoy a modest walking day filled with memorable views, and it’s worth considering a rest day so you can try as many restaurants as possible!

Day 11 | Citta di Castello – Candeggio | 13 km / 4 hours

Fuelled with pasta, pizza, truffle and cannoli, depart Citta di Castello and head to the hills, following quiet country roads to your end point. You’ll actually transfer back to Citta di Castello tonight, where you can continue sampling the local flavours, before returning the following morning. Woods, vineyards and the beautiful Soara River are features of the day’s landscapes, contributing to the natural beauty that permeates St Francis’ Way.

Day 12 | Candeggio – Pietralunga | 19 km / 4–5 hours

At just under 600 metres above sea level, Pietralunga is an atmospheric place to spend an evening. Reach it by following St Francis’ Way across undulating terrain through woodlands and open fields, a lovely day’s walking rewarded with some black-truffle pasta, a regional speciality that’s served in most of the restaurants.

Day 13 | Pietralunga – Gubbio | 26 km / 6 hours

A highlight today is passing the ancient Abbey of San Benedetto Vecchio, located on the slopes of the Apennines. The pretty trail will take you through quiet villages to reach the wonderful Roman theatre and Church of St Francis in Gubbio, a large medieval town in the shadow of Mount Ingino, the summit of which can be reached by cable car. The town is particularly famous for the discovery of the Eugubine Tables in 1444, which are a set of bronze tablets that make up the largest surviving text of ancient Umbrian.

Day 14 | Gubbio – Biscina | 22 km / 5 hours

Stick to the hills today, enjoying more gentle climbing as St Francis’ Way ascends to the Valdichiascio area and its abbey. The walking trails are relatively easy today, delivering you to the town of Biscina and its ancient castle. You’ll spend the evening at a rural property, with your comfortable lodgings complemented by a delicious paddock-to-plate style of meal for dinner.

Day 15 | Biscina – Assisi | 29 km / 7–8 hours | Optional rest day in Assisi

Your approach to Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis, begins in the silence of the hills and woods. The landscape opens up over the day with olive groves and vineyards scattered amongst the valleys, with a few challenging uphill sections for good measure. Arriving at the Sacred Convent and the Basilica of St Francis is one of the most memorable moments of the entire journey. You enter Assisi from Porta San Giacomo, through which pilgrims used to leave town on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

The beautiful town is dominated by its castles and churches and, once you’ve settled in at your accommodation, spend some time exploring town. Perhaps introduce yourself to some of Italy’s finest cuisine at one of the many trattorias or osterias, or stroll the atmospheric streets with a gelato in hand. We recommend taking a rest day here as there is so much history to take in, not to mention some fantastic restaurants and great sights.

Day 16 | Assisi – Foligno | 20 km / 5 hours

Begin your journey along St Francis’ Way at the Basilica of St Francis – a most fitting place to start. Set off towards Rome, enjoying a relatively flat walk along paths and quiet secondary roads. A stop in Spello, a few kilometres before Foligno, is a great idea. It’s a charming Umbrian town with plenty of little bars and cafes for a coffee or cold drink and the winding ancient streets are ripe for exploring and photo opportunities. Foligno, your destination for the evening, is an industrial and commercial centre that rose to prominence under the Papal State during the 13th century. There are plenty of interesting sights, including the cathedral, several other churches and the Piazza Della Repubblica.

Day 17 | Foligno – Campello sul Clitunno | 20 km / 5 hours

After breakfast, depart Foligno past the Porta Romana (Roman door) with St Francis’ Way taking you towards the Castello di Saint’Eraclio, along the ancient Via Flaminia. This Roman road led from Rome over the Apennine Mountains all the way to Ariminum, on the Adriatic Sea. Don’t worry, you won’t be walking all the way to the Adriatic today, but you will be following dirt roads on a testing uphill section, eventually arriving at Campello sul Clitunno. This small, fortified village is at the centre of olive oil production and has a UNESCO-listed temple, though it’s most known for its lovely lake and freshwater springs, which were even mentioned by Pliny the Edler, a revered Roman philosopher and author.

Day 18 | Campello sul Clitunno – Spoleto | 12 km / 3 hours

Enjoy a short but beautiful walk today, enjoying several of the small villages that typify St Francis’ Way. The stepped village of Poreta is a highlight, ensconced in olive trees and fortified walls, while the valleys and mountains along the way are certainly worth a photo or two. Your evening’s destination, Spoleto, dates back to the 12th century and is home to some truly unforgettable eateries offering traditional Umbrian dishes cooked by nonna as well as Michelin-starred options. The Spoleto Cathedral is well worth visiting and features beautiful mosaic work and frescoes.

Day 19 | Spoleto – Ceselli | 17 km / 4 hours

The walk from Spoleto to Ceselli begins with a climb towards the Nerva River Valley, passing by Monteluco and the Hermitage of St Francis. This place is home to many legends about St Francis and is said to have been settled by Syrian refugees in the 5th century. Be sure to have a poke around before continuing through the hermitage’s sacred woods and taking in the stunning valley of Spoleto below. The tiny village of Ceselli is a charming place to spend an evening soaking up the atmosphere of the Italian countryside.

Day 20 | Ceselli – Arrone | 15 km / 3 hours

Enjoy an easy day on St Francis’ Way, with generally flat walking and plenty of shade provided by the trees along the banks of the Nera River. There’s a possibility of taking a detour today, which will see you visiting San Pietro, a medieval abbey in the small township of Ferentillo. Alternatively, continue walking towards Arrone, a hillside town with an old guard tower and lovely church, not to mention a number of quaint bars and restaurants.

Day 21 | Arrone – Piediluco | 13 km / 3 hours

Leaving Arrone, a relaxed stroll will take you to the Marmore Falls, from where St Francis’ Way begins a number of ascents and descents through the wooded landscape. Though this is a short day, it’s worth breaking up the stage and stopping in Piediluco, a medieval village overlooking the vast Lake Piediluco, which marks the border between Umbria and Lazio. Archaeologists have excavated evidence of settlements dating back to the Bronze Age here, though the later history of the area is just as interesting, featuring battles between the Sabines and Romans. These days, the food and wine on offer is a definite highlight.

Day 22 | Piediluco – Poggio Bustone | 22 km / 5–6 hours

Today, St Francis’ Way crosses the Umbrian border into Lazio, climbing to the commune of Labro. Sitting at just over 600 metres above sea level, this hilltop village is quietly impressive place with a magnificent castle watching over the residents and surrounding countryside. This stage sees you cross the verge of the Reatini mountain range, which means a day packed with views before arriving at Santuario di Poggio Bustone, located at 820 metres above sea level. The evening views here are simply divine.

Day 23 | Poggio Bustone – Rieti | 17 km / 4 hours

Today, St Francis’ Way offers up a mix of ascents and descents along a very peaceful trail. There’ll be some walking on smaller mule tracks as well as the occasional paved road, eventually delivering you in the ancient city of Rieti. Set on a hilltop with lovely views of the Sabine Mountains, Rieti is the departure point for the final 100 kilometres of St Francis’ Way to Rome. There’s plenty to see in town, with a particular highlight being the Rieti Cathedral. With construction beginning in 1109, it was consecrated in 1225 and rebuilt in the 17th century, though the magnificent, 13th-century bell tower still remains. All your Italian staples can be found in town; gelati, pizza, pasta. And given this is a walking holiday, there’ll be no guilt when it comes to eating as much as possible.

Day 24 | Rieti – Poggio San Lorenzo | 22 km / 5 hours

Begin the day with eight kilometres of flat terrain before encountering some testing uphill sections. There’s some great walking through woods, over streams and across fields, with a challenging final ascent to Poggio San Lorenzo. Along the way you’ll see the 100-kilometre sign that marks the beginning of the last stretch of St Francis’ Way. Poggio San Lorenzo is a quiet little town, the perfect place to put your feet up and enjoy a glass of primo Italian vino.

Day 25 | Poggio San Lorenzo – Ponticelli di Scandriglia | 20 km / 4 hours

A challenging stretch of walking is rewarded with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. Along the way, we highly recommending stopping at the church of Santa Vittoria. There are plenty of charming villages in this section of St Francis’ Way and several towns in which one can find water fountains, steaming cups of espresso and plates of tasty pasta. Though relatively small, Ponticelli is a welcome sight at the end of a testing day, where you’ll enjoy a well-earned meal and a good night’s rest.

Day 26 | Ponticelli di Scandriglia – Montelibretti | 13 km / 3 hours

There’ so much to see and so much to enjoy as the kilometres to Rome become fewer and fewer. Today may be a short day on St Francis’ Way, but it shouldn’t be rushed as the walking is simply lovely. You’ll begin on a downhill trail, alternating between dirt and paved roads and surrounded by olive groves and oak trees, eventually reaching Poggio Corese. From here, you should be able to see the commanding Castello Orsini in Nerola, while the perfect place for a refreshment is the small town of Acquaviva. The trail will then take you into the valley then back up to Montelibretti; your overnight destination and a charming town that’s home to the lovely Palazzo Barberini.

Day 27 | Montelibretti – Monterotondo | 16 km / 4 hours

Walk St Francis’ Way from the hilltops to the valley floor and along the legendary Tiber River. These are the waters in which Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were supposedly abandoned in before being rescued by the wolf Lupa. The walking today involves a few ascents and descents until you reach Monterotondo and Macchia di Gattaceca, a lush natural reserve with several karst sinkholes including the wonderful Well of Merro. Monterotondo, a town with a touch over 40,000 residents, is thought to be built on the site of the ancient town of Eretum, which was held by the Sabine people and saw many conflicts between the Romans and Sabines.

Day 28 | Monterotondo – Monte Sacro | 18 km / 4 hours

Begin your day at the Duomo of Monterotondo in the Piazza Papa Giovanni Paolo II. From here, the trail will take you through the charming rural landscape of the Roman countryside across undulating terrain. After some ups and downs, you’ll enter the urban landscape of Rome, known as the Eternal City. As this is the penultimate day of your pilgrimage along St Francis’ Way, you’ll finish in Monte Sacro, the 16th quartiere of Rome. With the pull of the city centre increasing, tonight is a final opportunity to reflect on your journey through Italy so far before tomorrow’s final push into the heart of Rome.

Day 29 | Monte Sacro – Rome | 15 km / 4 hours

With 15 kilometres to cover, today’s walking is comfortable and relaxed as you penetrate Rome’s centre. It’s doesn’t take long to reach the heart of the city and you’ll finish your journey in The Vatican at St Peter’s Basilica, undoubtedly one of the most impressive buildings in the world regardless of one’s faith. This is a special place for pilgrims the world over and you’ll feel the full emotional impact of your walk to Rome, no matter where you started the journey. Tonight, celebrate your achievements on St Francis’ Way in this wonderful city and be sure to help yourself to a plate of carbonara – a Roman speciality.

Day 30 | Finish in Rome

Over breakfast, reminisce about your wonderful Italian pilgrimage along St Francis’ Way, which officially comes to an end after breakfast this morning.

 

Visit. www.wanderingtheworld.com.au for more information.

Inclusions

  • 29 nights accommodation, all carefully selected to enhance your Italian walking experience
  • Private en-suite facilities
  • Daily luggage transfers from hotel to hotel (1 x 20kg bag unless indicated otherwise)
  • Daily breakfast
  • Information packs with route maps and instructions on how to locate hotels
  • Luggage identification tags
  • Pilgrims passport
  • Emergency contact details and 24/7 local on-the-ground support
  • Pre-departure and ongoing support from Australian office

Optional Inclusions

  • Suggested rest days as outlined in itinerary or if required
  • Upgraded accommodation including agriturismo (country) properties and premium/high-end styles
  • Private vehicle transfers to the trip’s starting point
  • Single supplement for your own room
  • Additional night’s accommodation before or after trip (please advise at time of booking)

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Travel to trip’s starting point
  • Transfers not already outlined in detailed trip itinerary
  • Lunches
  • Evening meals

Accommodation

We know from personal experience that a good night’s rest can make or break a trip, which is why we carefully hand-select all our accommodation. We ensure we pass on our knowledge and firsthand experience of the best places to stay to all our walkers.

Your accommodation along Italy’s walking trails is booked in advance, is on a twin share basis with private facilities, chosen to make your pilgrimage experience as rewarding as possible. You may be staying in local bed and breakfast style properties including small hotels and guesthouses. At times we will stay in small remote villages, with limited choices, however, our assortment always guarantees your own private en-suite facilities. Wherever you end up, you’ll be well looked after, warm and comfortable and, most importantly, ready to tackle the next day’s walk.

Single supplements for your own room are on a request basis.

In many places there are luxury, upgraded options available. We can recommend some very special, unique places to enjoy the Italian hospitality in 4 and 5 star or more.  Please ask us about these options.

Dining

Italy is world famous for its cuisine and although you’ve come for the walking, the eating will be a focal point, with countless famous and traditional must eat meals awaiting your discovery. Italians are the masters of turning simple into spectacular, with the focus on regional, seasonal and fresh ingredients.

Breakfast at your place of accommodation, is usually continental style and may include cereals, yoghurt, bread, pastries, ham, tea, coffee, and juices.

Lunch, at your own expense, will depend on where you are on your walk and what is available, and is often purchased at a local café or bar. Lunch choices along the trail may include a slice of pizza, some panetteria (bakery) delights and if you have a sweet tooth the choices are many, not forgetting the gelati to round off any meal. Or perhaps a picnic you have brought with you to enjoy in the perfect spot.

There are plenty of choices for dining on the walking paths in Italy.  In most places you can choose from the less formal eateries such as an enoteca, osteria or a trattoria, serving local wines and simple tasty wholesome food.  There is usually a pizzeria in town that cater for early diners, and in the larger cities there is overwhelming options and with Michelin recognised and quality establishments you are spoilt for choice.

THE WALKING

This trip is a self-guided itinerary, ideal for groups and independent travellers who prefer to navigate their own way, in their own time.

You will be provided with an information pack with easy to read maps and instructions, complete with directions to guide you on the well-marked paths and tracks. Your information pack will be available at your joining hotel on the first day of your trip.

TRIP GRADE

Moderate – This itinerary is carefully designed for easy to manage walking days.  Between 14-24 km per day, approx. 4-6 walking hours. There is a basic level of fitness required and some uphill stretches in part.

Given you only need carry a lightweight day bag and your water supply, which can be replenished in the various villages on route and other essentials such as snacks and rainwear. It makes this trip very manageable for an inexperienced walker with a reasonable level of fitness.

LUGGAGE TRANSFERS

For your comfort and enjoyment Wandering the World arrange a daily luggage transfer. All you need to carry is a day pack and be free to enjoy your walking. Luggage allowance is one bag per person of no more than 20kg. Luggage must be left in the reception of your hotel before breakfast (8am) each day, before you move on.

It is essential to attach a bag tag provided to ensure your luggage is delivered to your next accommodation.

*Please note only one bag will be moved each day, additional charges will apply if your bag is heavier than 20kg. Should you require special arrangements for additional luggage transfers, this can be booked ahead of time.

GROUP SIZE

Wandering the World guided groups have a maximum group size of 12 participants. This small group size has many advantages including flexibility to stay in a wider range of accommodation options, dining together of an evening, the opportunity to get to know your travelling companions, and the freedom to walk alone or together.

TRANSFERS/TAXIS

If for any reason you wish to shorten your walking day, there are taxi and sometimes train options in the villages.

On some itineraries, there are times when Wandering the World may arrange a transfer for you or can do so at your request. For example, this might be where small villages do not have accommodation with private facilities, or we want to take you to a special out of the way hotel we know you are going to love. In this case Wandering the World will either arrange a transfer for you or suggest in your trip notes that you will need a taxi at your own expense.

Occasionally transfers are required due to limited accommodation options.  A simple procedure is outlined in your trip notes explaining the details of your private transfer, the designated meeting point and the agreed time.

WEATHER

The weather and climate on our Italian walks is varied, from region to region, and of course from day to day.  Each season has its benefits, with lovely long warm and sunny days in Spring and early Summer, to cooler walking temperatures early Spring and late Autumn. Some sections may be too hot for walking mid-summer, and some more likely to be wet, or even snow at other times. Talk to Wandering the World when making your plans, to discuss your preferences.

Once on your walk, the weather can play an important part on the enjoyment of the journey.  Checking the forecast can assist with your plans.  If you strike warm weather, which you think may be uncomfortable, leaving early to avoid the hottest part of the day can make a difference.

24/7 SUPPORT

Your information pack will include details of local emergency contacts and international contacts.

We have local on the ground support to give you any assistance you may need

We also check in with each hotel at the end of each day to endure your arrival.

GETTING THERE / GETTING HOME

This itinerary begins in Florence and ends Rome.

The closest airport is Florence (FLR) Airport or Rome Fiumicino International Airport is another option.

There are bus and train options for arriving and departing your walking commencement destination.

Train bookings are recommended.  Please note you can only book two months in advance of the date of travel.

From Fiumicino Airport take the Leonardo Express – a Trenitalia train connecting Fiumicino airport with a non-stop service to the main train station in Rome, Termini. It takes approx. 32 minutes and leaves the airport every half-hour, or every 15 minutes during peak hours.

From Rome Termini you can then travel to Florence (approx 1.5 hrs).  For more information see www.trenitalia.com and Rome2Rio.

Getting from Rome

Train and Bus Options:

To Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport and /or Rome Ciampino Airport, refer to the links below for more information:

www.trenitalia.com

Rome2Rio

www.omio.com

INSURANCE

Insurance is compulsory for everyone who travels with Wandering the World. The insurance policy must include cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability. Wandering the World recommends insurance coverage for cancellation to be taken at the same time your deposit is paid, as no exception to the cancellation provisions can be made.

BOOKING AND TRAVEL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Wandering the World’s full booking terms and conditions are available upon request and will also accompany your initial invoice for deposit.

“I feel spoilt to have ridden part of St Francis’ Way by bike back in 2002. I can’t wait to return by foot. I recall the never-ending uphill to Assisi and all the local women dressed in black, consoling each other like long-grieving widows. The cathedral was mind-blowing and I was in complete awe of the architecture. I guess this was my first real introduction to Italian places of prayer, and though I’m not religiously inclined, there was an incredible feeling of peace and tranquillity in that building on the hill. Another strong memory is the food: I wasn’t sure if I could eat Italian out of Italy once I’d been on St Francis’s Way. The fresh flavours, the juices, the local wines – all of them ‘mama mia’ moments!”   Glenyce, Founder of Wandering the World.