There is not only the ‘Camino’!
In the Middle Ages there were several pilgrim’s roads which led from the northern European countries to Rome, the Holy City. Some of these continued towards Puglia, where the pilgrims (and crusaders) could embark for the Holy Land.
The most famous of these roads is the so-called ‘Via Francigena’, which leads from Canterbury to Rome, and was first described by Sigeric, archbishop of Canterbury, in 990. As the ‘real’ via Francigena is considered the one described by Sigeric in his diary.
Recently many of these routes have been re-discovered and opened up for tourism by Italian State bodies – mostly regions and local authorities – together with many different associations. Many routes have been waymarked as well. Including many other ‘religious routes’, like the ‘Via Francigena di San Francesco’, through Umbria. The chosen name is not a particularly lucky one and might lead to confusion sometimes, especially because it officially has a double name: ‘Via di Roma’ – ‘La Via Francigena di San Francesco’. But the route is wonderful!
Most of these ‘medieval pilgrim routes’ were of course following the old Roman roads, which were in place already since more than a 1000 years. And that is basically the main problem with the ‘original route’: often these roads have been transformed over the centuries in big roads of national importance (‘strade statali’), often even in 4-lane highways.
For that reason we have included only the ‘best parts’ of the Via Francigena tours in Tuscany : to enjoy the pleasure of walking a pilgrim’s route, but also to relive the experience of the medieval pilgrims, walking through forests and pleasant agricultural landscapes, from abbey to abbey, from village to village, but without the noise of modern traffic!
The same is true for the ‘Via Francigena di San Francesco’, basically designed as a one-way route, to be followed in a southern direction, towards Rome, often following uninteresting stretches of road not touching some of the most interesting sites along the route (like the Marmore Waterfalls).
For that reason, on or Umbria tours, you will follow some of the most interesting stretches, but NOT the whole route. In addition you will see many more, and sleep in some stunning locations!
Other long-distance routes
Apart from the ancient pilgrim routes, there are many more long distance walking routes in Italy. The Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) has waymarked several ‘Alte Vie’ (‘High Routes’) along the ridges of many mountain chains and as well are there several long-distance coastal routes.