After walking an annual pilgrimage in Europe for the last many years I’ve often been asked by friends, “When are you going to invite others to join you?” Well, the time has come! I’m inviting you to join me September 3-16 in a beautiful and holy walking pilgrimage from Assisi to the Eternal City of Rome! I’m hosting the tour, will walk it with you each step of the way, and am delighted to have the help and support of St. Francis Pilgrimages to make the ground arrangements and support our group. Since this year has been declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy it’s an especially meaningful year to be a pilgrim to Rome!
This walk is very dear to me. I travelled it first with friends in 2013 and had a total blast. Jacqueline, Sebastian, Andreas and I explored the relatively undeveloped route with little help from guidebooks, which led to a contract with Cicerone Press to write a guidebook. I returned to the walk in 2014, armed with Italian language lessons, a friend’s camera, a new GPS given me by my church, a laptop, and a dictation app for my iPhone. Then my beloved Theresa Elliott joined me from Spoleto to Rome.
While I was in Italy I made some great friends among local pilgrimage supporters, including leaders of Sviluppumbria, which promotes economic vitality in the Region of Umbria. Led by Chiara dall’Aglio, Sviluppumbria sponsored a book launch on November 5 of last year in London. Since then, my guidebook, The Way of St. Francis: From Florence to Assisi and Rome has received great reviews and sets the bar as the first English language guide covering the entirety of this amazing pilgrimage trail.
Something that would make this path even more special would be to share it with you. Here’s how it would work: we meet in Assisi, enjoy an evening of exploration and then come together for the pilgrim mass in the Basilica of San Francesco. The next morning we walk up St. Francis’ beloved Mount Subasio, enjoying spectacular views of the Tiber River Valley below. We finish the day in the medieval village of Spello before taking our van 50km south to the lively and cosmopolitan town of Spoleto.
We enjoy an evening in delightful Spoleto and the next morning head across the ancient Bridge of the Towers to the Franciscan convent of Monteluco. Overlooking a dramatic gorge along the way, before long we cross into the Nera River Valley nature preserve, staying in the tiny village of Macenano. The following day it is up to the Marmore Falls, followed by serene Lake Piediluco, and then an overnight in picturesque Labro. We walk to the remote and peaceful Birch Tree of St Francis, then on to Poggio Bustone, site of Francis’ spiritual transformation. We rest in Rieti, then begin the final days in our walk to the Eternal City. Our time ends with our arrival in Rome and application for our official Pilgrim Testimonium, a certificate of completion granted by the Vatican to all, like us, who have walked more than 100 kilometers to get there. Here’s our route on Google Maps. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we will walk through the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica, open only in Jubilee years like this one.
Amazing! Of course there are also some costs for this walk of a lifetime. It’s important that all participants be strong walkers since we will frequently walk on mountainous trails, occasionally with difficult footing. That means training and advance work to be certain we’re able. A good pair of hiking boots or shoes is essential. We walk rain or shine, so a well-equipped backpack with rain gear is a must. Of course there is the financial cost, too. It’s $2,150 for the ground portion of the trip, which includes all hotels, breakfasts and dinners each day of our journey. We’ll also send you a free copy of my book and will work individually with you to assure you are prepared for the journey.
We will need eight pilgrims to make this happen. I hope you will be one of our band of trekkers! Oh, and did I mention that Theresa will be joining us, too? Another of the many great reasons to come along!
If you’re ready to join in this unforgettable journey, please download and return the AssisitoRomewithSandyBrownRegistrationFlyer. Any questions? Feel free to write a comment and I’ll get right back to you. Thank you, and buon cammino!
Sounds exciting! I do have a couple questions. I walked the Way of St. James from Leon this past summer and I’m wondering if this pilgrimage is similar in its difficulty? Also, have any provisions been made to walk through the Holy door in Rome? I understand one must apply for a time slot.
Hi Michelle ~ Yes, it’s exciting! From León to Santiago is a good example of what this walk is like. We have a couple of uphills like Cruce de Ferro and O Cebreiro and then lots of walking through small towns. If you were able to do that, then this should be fine for you. And yes, we will make application for a time to walk through the Holy Door at St Peter’s! I will make certain to add this element in the description. Thanks for the reminder. I hope you can join us! — Sandy
Hello again Sandy. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I very much want to join you on this pilgrimage! Are there still slots available? How many will there be all together? I had no problem with the Way of St. James so I’m happy to hear it is a similar journey.
Outstanding! Yes, there are still slots available. We just posted the trip today and there is a lot of interest. Our minimum is 8 pilgrims, so with Theresa and me that’ll be 10 in the group. I can imagine having more, so we’ll consider limits to the size when and if we need to cross that bridge. I’m excited you want to join us. Stay in touch!
Sounds great, but we are walking the Camino de Santiago again this April/May so couldn’t afford 2 in one year. I hope you offer this again in 2017or 2018
We’ll see about that. Could happen!
I am ready to fill out my paperwork. Is it ok if I do so online or do I need to download it and mail it as stated in your comments?
Hi Michelle — good question. I’ll check and let you know.
Looks wonderful. I may bump into you over there. Might be heading over to do that walk in September but not sure of the dates yet! 🙂
By the way – I’ve been reading your guidebook and loving it. You are a wonderful writer (but we knew that already right!?) – at any rate, it really comes across in the book. Congratulations. The first of many books I hope! 🙂
Dear Sandy…this sounds amazing. I’d love to do this together with a friend, but I’m 75, and have some concerns with my health and am wondering if I’d be able to take this. Specifically, I have a problem with my right knee, though I managed an eastern Europe tour in April 2015. I also have a problem with my right shoulder which means I cannot anything much with it. I also have a pacemaker which is no problem. Would love to hear your thoughts on whether I can take this walk. Thanks and cheers.
I’m thrilled you are interested. Your age is not a problem — if you’re in good shape. A couple of questions: 1) can you walk 10-12 miles 6 days in a row? 2) can you walk up and down the steps of a 10 story building? If the answer is “yes” to both, you should be fine. If it’s “no” to either, this may not be for you.
Further to my earlier email I didn’t reply as i was quite disappointed knowing I can’t give a positive reply to your two questions. I’m going for a knee replacement surgery on 28th March and my two friends (from Singapore and London) still think I can do this. They’ve asked me to check if I can hop into the van that follows us if I’m unable to keep up. Can I?
Hi Rosaline ~ Sorry, I didn’t receive your earlier email. We do have one single slot in a double room available, but otherwise we’re completely booked for our walk. We’ll have baggage service, but no mid-walk van pickups. Sorry! Maybe in 2017?
Sandy I sent you an email re our setting up a time to Skype. Did you get it?
Yes. I sent you a note back on December 15. I guess you didn’t get it? I’m resending now. Happy to talk!
Sandy thinking about doing this walk with your group. I will be going solo. Unsure if my husband will be retired by then. Is it straight forward to go from Rome to Assiss for the starting point? I have never been to Italy.
I have walked the Portuguese Camino four times and led some friends. So I feel I would be able to do this walk.
Excellent! Yes, it’s pretty straightforward. If you sign up we will give you detailed info and we may be able to meet you at the Rome airport if the timing works right. Basically, the train goes from the airport to Rome, then you transfer to the train that goes to Santa Maria degli Angeli, just below Assisi. In short, we will make it very easy to get there. I hope you can join us!
Thank you! I just booked my trip! Very Excited!
Way cool! Looking forward to our walk together, Karen. Ciao! – Sandy
Sandy, I am interested. Could you please clarify one item: Do we only carry a day pack during the walk? I have done the Camino Frances, Norte and Portugues, but have never carried a full backpack. Also, Is thevan a available in the event I need to end the walk earlier than the group? The Testimonium is not that important to me, since I already have one from a walk from Sienna to Rome. Best regards, Miriam
Hi Miriam ~
I’m glad you’re interested! Yes, you need only carry a day pack, as the van will have our luggage. The van will be available at various intervals (depending on automobile access) for those who want to end early (or start late). You sound like an experienced pilgrim and I hope you can join us!
Ok Sandy, I am registered and am overcome with excitement! I am starting my research and am going to book my flight and hotels for the extra days very soon! It makes sense to extend my trip. I guess I should split it between Assisi and Rome. Two or three days in each?
I want to start my training right away! What do you suggest?
I am very interested in the optional tour in Rieti!
This is going to be a trip of a life time!
Feeling very Blessed to have this opportunity!
Karen Harmon 👣👣🏃🏽🏃🏽👣👣
I suggest you consider staying in Florence for a day or two if your schedule allows…. (as well as days in Assisi and Rome of course). That’s what I plan to do when I go but maybe Sandy can chip in with some sage advice?
Thanks Eilish I will look into it!
I’m so glad you’re joining us! I think you’ll really enjoy the extra days in Assisi and Rome! I’d plan at least 1 extra in Assisi and 2 extra in Rome. Adding time in Assisi is also nice so you can have time to adjust from jet lag before we start walking. Yes, the tour in Rieti will be great, too!
As far as training goes, for the next months you can focus on cardio strength by walking hills, jogging, and/or doing stairclimber at the gym. This summer you can start walking with a backpack and your hiking shoes/boot/socks combination so you can make certain you’re set for varied terrain and your feet are blister-free. You’ll want to work up to 12-14 miles/day, and plan some days with back to back 12/14 mile excursions so that you know you are ready for daily distance walking.
Looking forward to meeting you and walking with you to Rome! – Sandy
Karen, Your note to Sandy got me excited for the journey all over again. I’m going to plan one day extra in Assisi and two or three in Rome. The optional tour in Rieti sounds like a trip not to be missed. I look forward to meeting and walking with you! Michelle
Michelle I am trying to decide do I stay in Rome when I get off the plane or head directly to Assisi? I think I want two days in Assisi and two / three in Rome like you. I have spent the entire day looking on line, reading information and checking out hotels. So exciting! It sounds like you have done this walk before?
Can’t wait to meet you and walk with you too!
Hello Karen, I have not done this particular walk but I did walk the Camino de Santiago last July. I had planned to walk the Portuguese route to Santiago this year and then I saw this opportunity! I was waiting to look into hotels thinking maybe I could stay in the same hotel we will start and end our journey. I had planned to ask about that later. I have been to Rome several times and would like to be in town on a Wednesday in case I can get into a Papal Audience or Sunday for a blessing. I haven’t decided yet. I know when I finished the Camino I wished I had come directly home instead of going to Portugal for “tourist” reasons. Let’s keep each other posted about our plans —
Michelle I think that is a great idea about keeping each other posted on our plans!
I have walked the Portuguese Camino four times. So we have lots to talk about on our upcoming walk!
Have just sent you a belated reply to my last email. Did you receive?
Hi Sandy, my friend and I are very keen to join you. I understand you are almost full and hope you will consider us. I know of your walk and was looking for a partner (my bad!) and therefore took so long. It’s our first and we wanted to be sure we are suitable. Thanks
I think we’re full. Let me check!
Hi Karen — thanks for your note. Please pass on to Barbara that although we are full we are creating a waiting list. We have two accommodation locations that are presently fully booked, but that will likely open up. So a person on the waiting list has a good possibility of coming. You two should go ahead and send in your reservation forms to secure your place. Thanks!
How’s your waiting list looking now? 🙂 I’m obviously not much of a pre-planner
Teresa, we have a couple of spots still available. If you’re interested, write me at revsandybrown at gmail dot com.
I am in, but …next year! My husband and I will be in southern Spain during this time! I have done 2 CF and 1 Le Puy to SJPP (2013, 2015, 2017). How do I keep in your radar?
Kathy Bonaccorsi, New Hampshire
Hi Kathy ~ You’ve responded to an old post. We have an entire set of new walks coming up at my http://www.pilgrimpaths.net website. I hope you can join us! Meantime, I’ll add you to my email list. Thanks for your interest! – Sandy