Via Appia - the 'Via Francigena' of southern Italy - VFS 1
The Via Francigena & other ‘pilgrim roads’ in Italy
Looking for a ‘spiritual’ long-distance walk? The ‘Camino’ to Santiago is not the only ‘cammino’!
Italy has many different long-distance hiking routes to offer, ‘spiritual’ routes as well as ‘cultural routes’! Not without reason there is a saying according to which ‘all roads lead to Rome’! Which has been true for more than 2000 years now!
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 roads continued towards the port of Brindisi in Puglia, where the pilgrims (and crusaders) could embark for the Holy Land.
The most famous of these pilgrim roads is the so-called ‘Via Francigena’, which leads from northern Europe to Rome, the place where most medieval pilgrims were heading for, to visit the places the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul. But part of the pilgrims, during medieval times (and also later) travelled on to the ‘Holy Land’. Therefore, their route continued along the ‘Vie Francigene’ of southern Italy, mostly towards the port of Brindisi, where they could embark for the Holy Land.
Walking the original route or a full immersion in local landscape & culture?
Most of these ‘medieval pilgrim routes’ were obviously following the old Roman roads, which were in place already since a 1000 years at the time of the pilgrimages, roads that followed the most obvious passes and the most ‘logical’ routes to Rome. And that is basically the main problem with the ‘original routes’: often the roads have been further transformed over the centuries, and are nowadays major roads of national importance (‘strade statali’), often even 4-lane highways.
For that reason we have included only the ‘best parts’ of the Via Appia / Via Francigena in our tours: to let you 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!
This part of the Via Francigena is perhaps the area where the intriguing history of the area comes most alive. Here, more than ‘only’ walking over a medieval pilgrim’s route you’ll walk through the heartland of the Romans, from Rome into the Campania Felix, an area which flourished at the time of the Roman Empire. This area, boast some of the most impressive amphitheatres and other public buildings, as well as long stretches where the Roman pavement can still be seen.
Then you’ll travel into the ‘Sannio’ and Lucania, or Basilicata, where you can admire the various layers of history: from the ancient pre-Roman tribes, to the castles of Frederick II and the later Spanish domination. Of course you’ll visit Matera, one of the most intriguing cities in Italy.
This is a moderately challenging tour which is suitable for experienced walkers with a good general physical condition. The route roughly follows the traces of the Roman Via Appia and the southern Via Francigena, one of Europe’s most important ‘highways’ in medieval times. You will walk from village to village, most virtually unknown, and definitely off the beaten ‘tourist track’, a full immersion in the real ‘Mezzogiorno’, the authentic southern Italy.
Although there is an ‘official’ route of the Via Francigena – with a designated number of stops along the road, we will be able to ‘personalise your route, according to your time available.
The route can be divided into 5 stages: from Rome to Formia, from Formia to Benevento (along different routes), from Benevento to Venosa, from Venosa to Matera (different routes possible) and from Matera to Brindisi. Also on this last stage there are many possible loops, to explore the beautiful area of the Val d’Itria.
Please contact us to know about the actual possibilities.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic family-run hotels (generally 2/3-star; 4/5-star on request) and beautiful agriturismo’s. All rooms have en-suite facilities.
On all nights you will be free to make your own dinner arrangements. You can choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the area. Your accommodation holder can give you good tips.
No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation holders, or materials for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you’ll be staying. On some occasions you have the option to have your lunch in a restaurant along the way.
UPGRADE/CHANGES IN ACCOMMODATION
It is possible to upgrade this tour, staying in more luxurious 4-star hotels (where available).
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderate (3): Mostly moderately easy walks, with some long stages, involving some steep uphill walking, sometimes on paths with rough surfaces. On some days extensions or shortcuts are possible.
Fitness: High standard of fitness is necessary: you should be able to walk for up to 7 hours a day in the hot sun on dusty or stony tracks.
N.B. During summer the difficulty of this tour definitely increasesdue to the heat. We therefore advise against booking this tour during the period between about 14th July and 20th August.
FOOT PATHS & WAYMARKING
Most paths are relatively well maintained; you’ll follow most of the time the official route of the Via Francigena, well maintained. A large part of the route goes along so-called strade bianche (unsurfaced roads), easy to follow and very unlikely to get overgrown (we continuously check our routes – please help us by providing your feedback on the quality of the paths).
Waymarking: A large part of the route is waymarked with the signage of the ‘Via Francigena’, but on some occasions we have found more interesting routes than those actually waymarked; therefore you should follow the route descriptions provided together with the maps. With these you will always be able to find your route.
- overnight stays
- Luggage transport from hotel to hotel
- Extensive route notes, with description of the route & tourist information
- Maps at 1 : 25.000 scale or better
- 24/7 assistance
- Pilgrim’s Passport (‘Credenziale’)
- Departure taxes & Visas
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Optional additional tours or activities
- Items of personal nature
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in ROMA – the Eternal City. A frequent train service can bring you to the nearby international airport. There are frequent trains to all other cities in Italy.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast in BRINDISI, linked by a frequent train service to BARI, which has an international airport.
N.B. Luggage transport from hotel to hotel is included – a discount applies for those carrying their own luggage (75 euro per person – on request).
|You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
- Prices are per person and based on the season within which the first night of the tour falls.
- Prices are based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation. Single rooms (double rooms – single) are available on most trips however the supplements listed apply.
- If you are travelling alone then on some trips (which include taxi transfers) a ‘Solo Traveller Supplement’ will be applied instead of the normal single supplement.
- Prices are expressed in Euro’s. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
It is possible to include some extra nights in your tour, in any of the accommodations ‘en route’. For those who have never been to Rome an extra day here is strongly recommended.
At the beginning of the tour there is the opportunity to stay an extra night in beautiful Rome, which definitely is worth a prolonged visit.
Halfway the tour the tour can be extended with an extra ‘loop’ through the area of the Basilicata, a stunning region.
Longer and shorter versions, as well as guided versions, of this tour are also available. Prices on request.