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.

14 thoughts on “Exciting new developments as The Way of St Francis guidebook gets closer and closer

  1. Sandy, the book wil become required reading for anyone even considering the Via di Francesco. My wife and I are now in Sansepulcro, and we begin our walk with our group next Tuesday, from La Verna. Your help has been invaluable – thank you!


  2. Looking forward to the publication and first print edition of the guide book. Then going on my Camino of St. Francis in 2016 with the book that you wrote.

  3. Hi Sandy Congrats Juli and I plan on waking it, Lord willing, next year. We have 3 new grandchildren due this year but are still going to try and sneak a Portugal camino in this fall if possible.


    Sent from my iPhone


  4. So exciting! I have been checking in on your blog periodically since I discovered it researching my first Camino a few years ago. I feel like I’ve followed along on your journey to write this guidebook and I look forward to it. Sadly, my first trip to Italy will be before your publication date….but now I’ll have a reason to return! In the meantime, any good sources on other Italian hikes? Congratulations 🙂

  5. Hi Sandy
    I have just found your site and am very excited. I will be leaving from La Verna on 9th May with a friend. I picked up a book in Assisi last year and that is when we decided to do the Camino. We have both previously done the Camino de Santiago from St Jean and last year we did the Arles Route together. The book that I picked up had big distances and I have been concerned that my fitness will not allow me to do such big days in the hilly terrain. Therefore I was very excited to find that the distances that you did were civilised. Is your new book available electronically? We are both on the move at the moment so wouldn’t be able to purchase a hard copy anywhere.

    Congratulations on finishing the book … What a huge achievement and wonderful asset for us Trekkers.

    Best regards
    Lyn McLean

  6. Hi Sandy, I’m still planning on a September trip. It’s amazing how once I decided to go NOW and not put this off five years, as is my normal, my financial house came together. No, it was not easy and I had to budget strictly, but I was amazed how it fell into place – I guess you have to let everything go and put your faith in a greater being. I cannot over emphasize how strange this was for me that things got easier instead of harder.Don’t let me fool you, I’ve wanted to buy new clothes, etc., like always…but if my life and the planets have seemed to line up, who am I to argue? I am walking The Way of St. Francis, I do not need much of anything.
    So I’ve prepared to leave within 4 months now instead of 5 years. I’m not sure why I felt the need to “go now – don’t wait.” I believe in listening and the voice I heard is that I am meant to do this walk.
    Friends and those I share my journey with say “aren’t you afraid” and it is probably a question I get more than any other. I proudly say “yes, I am afraid, I like to plan everything perfectly, but this is not that kind of trip.”
    I plan on being smart about safety but also leaving myself open to the beauty of St. Francis and walking in his world. I look forward to your book. Thank you for being my Trailblazer.

  7. Dear Sandy Brown,

    I will be leading a group of 12 students along the Way of Saint Francis this summer. I also did (part of) the Way of Saint Francis in 2013 – from Cortona to Assisi to Rome with students. I work at Gregory the Great Academy, a boys boarding school in Pennsylvania and every year the senior class makes a pilgrimage either along the Camino de Santiago or (starting in 2013) along the Way of Saint Francis. We travel in somewhat of a unique way in that we bring no money with us, but instead sing songs and put on juggling shows in the towns that we go through, relying on the providence of God, and the goods of those we meet along the Way. We are heading over to Italy to begin this adventure on May 26th. Our 2013 pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome was wonderful trip but we were frequently lost because of poorly marked trails, etc.. I have been pining for a book like the one that you have just written. Is there any way that this will be available to me before I leave for Italy? Your help is much appreciated.


    Luke Culley

  8. Iam so interested in doing this. I walked the Camino Frances SJPP to Santaigo last Sept/Oct. We did have our bags transported every day. Is this possible on the st Francis. Also, do I need to spek Italian?

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