Exciting new developments as The Way of St Francis guidebook gets closer and closer

St Francis draft cover.jpg

Draft cover for the St. Francis guidebook

Late last night I pinged Lois, head editor at Cicerone Press, to see if the cover had been designed for The Way of St. Francis: From Florence to Assisi and Rome. My hope was that, given the time difference from Cumbria to Seattle, I’d wake up to good news. Sure enough. When I woke up this morning there was a lovely image awaiting me in my Inbox. I just had to sit and stare for a few moments as feelings of joy, satisfaction and excitement swept over me.

Over the last weeks I’ve been working with Cicerone’s designated editor, Georgia Laval, to get the manuscript ready for publication. Georgia is a young woman, graduate of editing and proofreading school, who has a keen eye for typos, grammatical mistakes, inconsistencies, ambiguities and other obstacles that writers unwittingly put in the way of publishers as we write our manuscripts. Georgia read the text through then sat down with it, meticulously comparing the text with maps and profiles so she could ensure the routes are as clear as possible for the book’s end users. She had lots of suggestions and sent them first in an “edit queries” document, followed by a full “draft” edited text. As I reviewed her edits I also sat down with the maps and marked items on them that we both felt should be called out in each daily stage.

Sample map, this one from Stage 8.

Sample map, this one from Stage 8.

An example of the work is the map to the left. The red line is my GPX track from walking this stage in August (or, actually, from riding a rental bike that day). The track was superimposed onto the map by Cicerone, then I marked in black the beginning and end of the stage while marking in red various highlights from the text. This particular route happens to be a combination of the Via di Francesco and the Cammino di Assisi and solves a dilemma of how to get from Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro in just one day. The map will be divided into two sections and then will be presented on two different pages in the book. Cicerone’s job is to make it all look pretty and professional in the finished product.

So, my work with Georgia has been to connect the maps (which I’d never seen before) with the text and profiles for each stage. Georgia also confirmed each of the lodging listings — a huge task — to make certain we’re not leading anyone astray. She did it all without complaining and, in fact, thanked me for a smooth and fun process when we finished a day or two ago.


Photo by Chiara Dall’Aglio of pilgrim pioneer, Gigi Bettin, with a Franciscan official at the dedication of the new pilgrim office in Assisi.

Speaking of lodging on the route, our listings are something of a moving target. For instance, this week in Assisi there was a very special celebration — an inauguration of several improvements that will make life easier and better for St. Francis pilgrims. First, Assisi’s first pilgrim hostel has been christened — the Spedale dei Santi Francesco e Giacomo. It will be a hostel in the style of the Camino de Santiago and is located at the historic cemetery to the north of Assisi proper (about 600m from the Basilica of San Francesco). Second, a new pilgrim office, the Statio Peregrinorum, is now in place in the convent area of the Basilica. Here pilgrims can receive their testimoniums at the completion of their walks. Third, a daily 6pm mass celebrates completed pilgrimages. It’s held in the lower Basilica. Each improvement builds infrastructure and pulls this pilgrimage ahead in the future, making it more and more attractive for prospective pilgrims.

So, even as the book is being edited I’m watching carefully for developments along the way. As much as possible these will be included in the book before it goes to press. I’m expecting the next step of editing in a couple of weeks, followed by review of the galleys and then the long spell of waiting until the book is printed and ready for sale. I’ve enjoyed this project each step of the way and can’t hardly wait to watch The Way of St. Francis be put to use by pilgrims ready to walk the paths familiar to the humble man of Assisi.