Our September walk from Assisi to Rome is filling up! Here’s more info (and photos!)

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Map of our pilgrimage trek from Assisi to Rome, September 3-15

I’m thrilled to be offering old and new friends the opportunity to walk with Theresa and me from Assisi to Rome September 3-15 of this year. I’m working with my friend, Bret Thoman of St. Francis Pilgrimages, and we’ve put together a super itinerary for our group. You can download the PDF and registration form here to learn the details. Suffice to say, it will be the walk of a lifetime.

Since our brochure didn’t have enough room to show some of the most amazing photos of the walk I thought I’d post photos to whet your appetite! The pics come from either my 2013 or 2014 hikes. I’ve also added a little text to explain more of what the days’ journeys will be like.

Our Itinerary

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Inside the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi

September 3: Arrival in Assisi. Meet Theresa and me along with fellow pilgrims at an orientation session in St. Francis’ lovely hometown. There’s a pilgrim mass each evening in the lower Basilica of San Francesco, so we’ll enjoy that before having a fine dinner together inside beautiful and beloved Assisi. If you’d like to explore Assisi a little more, you should plan to arrive a day or two early. We can help you make arrangements to have a guided tour of town, or you can simply walk and discover. Enjoy the churches, museums and castle of the town, or just enjoy the Italian sunshine and amazing views to the valley below.

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Walking downhill toward Spello

September 4: Assisi to Spello – 11 miles. Spectacular views of the Tiber River Valley greet us as we walk along the slopes of Mount Subasio to beloved Spello, a hill town famous in its own right. On the way we visit Francis’ beloved Carceri Hermitage then relax for lunch or a beverage in Spello. Since the scenery would be very similar for the next two days of the walk, we skip two stages ahead to sophisticated Spoleto, whose historic cathedral holds one of the few handwritten notes of St. Francis (Overnight Spoleto). Option: Avoid the first stiff climb up Subasio with a taxi ride to the Carceri Hermitage where you rejoin the rest of the group.

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Dramatic landscapes on the way to Macenano from Spoleto

September 5: Spoleto to Macenano – 12.7 miles. Pass Spoleto’s medieval castle and cross its dramatic Ponte delle Torre bridge into a vast forest. A brisk 45-minute climb takes you to the Monteluco Franciscan convent, and then a long downhill wilderness trail leads you along dramatic gorges into the Valnerina recreational area. Freshen up at your hotel in convenient Macenano and walk to a sumptuous dinner at the ancient Abbey of San Pietro in Valle, a gentle 1.5km above Macenano. (Overnight in Macenano)

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View from beautiful Labro

September 6: Macenano to Piediluco – 15.5 miles. We walk through farms and pastures to majestic Marmore Falls and serene Lake Piediluco, where St. Francis preached. A climb up to the tiny hill town of Labro gives a peek into life in a medieval village untouched by time. A private van carries you three miles from the shores of Piediluco to the hill town of Labro (Overnight in Labro).

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Sunrise in Poggio Bustone

September 7: Labro to Poggio Bustone – 10.5 miles. We leave behind high pastures and walk up to the St. Francis Birch Tree, where tradition says a beech tree protected St. Francis during a harsh winter storm. Walk downhill through lush forests to the hill town of Poggio Bustone, site of the spiritual transformation that began Francis’ ministry (Overnight in a comfortable Poggio Bustone pilgrim hostel). Poggio Bustone dangles on a steep mountainside and its narrow streets are little changed in centuries.

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The hidden treasure of Cantalice

September 8: Poggio Bustone to Rieti – 11 miles. — A quiet and green walk through the gorgeous village of Cantalice and then the Franciscan sanctuary of La Foresta where legend attributes a key miracle to St. Francis. The day ends in nearby Rieti, capital of the Sabine olive-growing region of Italy and itself an historic Roman town (Overnight in a Rieti hotel). Theresa and I loved quiet and scenic Cantalice, with its winding alleys and hidden piazzas.

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A rest day in beautiful and scenic Rieti

September 9: Rest Day in Rieti. Central Rieti is a shopper’s paradise, but also has a colorful history since before Roman times. There’s lots to do in this town that is capital of the Sabine olive-growing region, and we’ll stay two nights at a lovely hotel in the heart of Rieti’s old city. The local area is steeped in St. Francis lore, as well, so we’re offering another possibility for those interested:

Option: Rieti/Greccio guided tour. A local expert guides you through the Underground Rieti Salt Road and takes us in a private van to the nearby Franciscan sanctuary of Greccio, the scenic mountainside convent where Francis and local villagers created the first Christmas nativity scene. (Overnight in a Rieti hotel).

 

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Tiny and quaint Poggio San Lorenzo

September 10: Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo – 13.5 miles. Walk along the Roman Salt Road through quiet farms of the Sabine Region to the tiny, Roman village of Poggio San Lorenzo (Overnight in Poggio San Lorenzo). This is a mostly flat day’s walk and the scenery of woods, farms and olive groves is much different from the previous days’.

 

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Olive groves among the rolling hills after Poggio San Lorenzo

September 11: Poggio San Lorenzo to Ponticelli –14.4 miles. A day of forested ridges, olive groves and sheep pastures with views to castles and quiet villages (Overnight in Ponticelli). The word “undulating” is best to describe the terrain here. With a combination of rocky soil, lots of sun, and regular rain, olive oil from the Sabine area is prized among Italian varieties. Most of the non-agricultural areas are protected forestland, meaning the day’s walk is quiet and far from automobile traffic.

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Orsini Castle dominates the area

September 12: Ponticelli to Montelibretti – 8.2 miles. Forests and olive groves punctuate today’s walk, with constant views of towering Castello Orsini on one of the nearby forested mountaintops (Overnight in Montelibretti). The Orsini family was a powerful, medieval clan of Roman nobles and their castles and secured the Sabine area and reminded visitors of the power of nearby Rome. Today the castle is restored as an opulent hotel, whose grounds include a lovely swimming pool and excellent restaurant.

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Olive groves are replaced by wheat fields outside Monterotondo

September 13 Montelibretti to Monterotondo – 10.3 miles. With Rome near, the territory changes to olive groves and vast fields of grain as you walk through the Gattaceca Nature Reserve. In clear weather the first glimpse of St. Peter’s is visible in the far distance. Enjoy an evening stroll (passegiata) through the delightful Old City (Overnight Monterotondo).

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Outside Monterotondo and less than a day from Rome and still in beautiful green valleys

September 14: Monterotondo to Monte Sacro – 12 miles. After half a day’s walk in the peaceful Marcigliana Nature Reserve you will follow sidewalks into the outskirts of urban Rome (Overnight Monte Sacro). The path carefully avoids the congestion of Italy’s largest city and allows a quiet walk through small and large farms. The transition to the outskirts of Rome is abrupt and for the first time on the trek we walk sidewalks next to busy streets — with ample gelato stores along the way!

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Crossing the Tiber in Rome on the Ponte Milvio

September 15: Monte Sacro to Vatican – 9.5 miles. Though Rome is bustling around, you will share quiet paths with bicyclists and strollers along the Ariane and Tiber riverfronts until rounding a bend in the Tiber at Castel Sant’Angelo for our final entry into glorious Vatican City. It’s the Holy Year and we will have reservations to walk through the Holy Doors of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pilgrims share a final dinner together at a delightful Roman restaurant (Overnight Rome). Will you plan another day or more to enjoy Rome?

We still have a few places available on the trip. I hope you’ll join us for what will certainly be an unforgettable trip!

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St. Peter’s Square in iPhone Panorama mode

16 thoughts on “Our September walk from Assisi to Rome is filling up! Here’s more info (and photos!)

  1. Hi Sandy,
    what a nice proposal and rich program! Congratulations!
    In May 2015 I hiked the Via Francigena of Saint Francis from La Verna to Rome on my own, carrying all my personal effects in my backpack and sleeping in pilgrim and church hostels as I usually did on my past pilgrimage ways in Italy, Spain, France and Israel: you had kindly provided me with your GPS tracks before your guide was published, although finally I did not use them and also followed other itineraries. I arrived to Rome on May 17th, in time for Pape Francis’ Mass with canonisation of four women, among others the first two Palestinian saints, just skipping some stages from Rieti to Monterotondo due to lack of time.
    Now I wonder whether, even without taking part to you organized program which I could not afford, I could possibly join you, Theresa and the others pilgrims, to walk together for a subset of your stages, probably the last from Rieti to Monterotondo which I had skipped last year, while staying independent for accomodation. What do you think?
    Thank you anyway for your great proposal and maybe we will meet in September on the way.

    • Hi Rosella ~ Sounds like you’re quite an experienced pilgrim. One thing to consider: we’re thinking of adding an option to our program that would allow a person to walk from Rieti to Rome for just about half the total cost. Let me know if that’s something you might be interested in. Cheers! – Sandy

      • Thank you, Sandy!
        I do not think I would be interested in your proposal from Rieti to Rome for half the total cost: I am used and prefer to be independent for organisation and accomodation in such kind of ways, in addition I could probably not be sure to come until a few days before your dates.
        Anyway I will contact you in case I manage to come and we can try to meet and walk together for some stages.
        Cheers,
        Rossella

  2. Hi Sandy,

    My wife and I have booked our flight to Rome arriving on the 06 May and we are planning to walk from Florence to Rome, and we have allowed ourselves 5 weeks.

    We have walked the Camino in Spain, Portugal and last year from Le Puy, France. Normally we don’t book accommodation ahead but we experienced difficulties in France as it is best to book ahead.

    We would like to book ahead this time and wondered if you could advise us when is the best time to book as we are keen to book as much of the walk as possible?

    Regards,

    Doug Gilchrist

    • Congrats on your upcoming walk! You’ll have a blast. I always recommend booking no more than 4-5 days in advance in case you want to either linger or push ahead faster. Check the exact timing of the Gubbio and Spello festivals this year because both towns can be crowded during their major festival. In those a cases you want to make your bookings ASAP. Also book your entry through the Holy Door at St Peter’s if that’s important to you.

  3. Hi Sandy,

    I’m half thinking of hiking in Italy as part of four weeks leave I’m taking at the end of April. My first two weeks will be hiking the GR70 (Chemin de Stevenson) in France. I’m now looking for options for the last 2 weeks (which I expect would include 2 days travel time). I’ve narrowed it down to either doing another hike in France OR alternatively I could head over to Italy (Florence and surrounding region) for the remaining 2 weeks or simply hike part of the St Francis Way from Florence (or other hikes in the region). I don’t think it’s quite enough time to hike all the way (from Florence) to Assisi (especially I would like to spend at least a couple of days in Florence and I’m not sure I’ll be quite there fitness wise by May…) so I was wondering would you have any suggestions for about 10 days of hiking In Italy (or less if more sight-seeing is involved – I like to take it relatively easy!)? I would really value your opinion 🙂

    P.S. I still plan to head over to Italy in September to hike to Rome (I expect to have about 3 to 4 weeks) …. just not sure where from yet! 🙂 Maybe I could do a small section in May and then hike from there to Rome in September…. hmmmm! Decisions decisions! 😉

    P.P.S. Is it necessary to be good at Italian? I realise the better I am the richer my experience will be especially when conversing with people…. (I’m in the process of learning the basics but I’m not sure how good I’ll be by the time May comes around…. )

    • Hi Elish — Italy is full of great hikes. In two weeks you can do a lot. As far as walking between Florence and Assisi, a lovely stretch is from Santuario Della Verna to Gubbio or Assisi. This is 8-10 days, is colorful and has some great and scenic Italian towns. Hope this helps! — Sandy

      • Hi Sandy – thanks for the quick reply! 🙂

        Ooh that sounds lovely and like it could work… I have your book so must have a look at the stretch you suggest 🙂

        By the way, I know you did an in-Italy italian course at one stage but before that did you find it tricky to get by with basic Italian (I tend to prefer to speak as much of the native language as I can but its very very basic at the moment!)? I’m spending time most evenings learning the language via a free app (highly recommend http://www.duolingo.com) plus a CD set I bought recently (BBC language course) and I’m definitely picking it up slowly but surely 🙂

        Thanks again!

        Eilish

      • Congrats on connecting with Duolingo. Having some Spanish and French, Italian feels pretty natural. Good luck and have fun in your planning and prep!

  4. Hi Sandy,
    I am thinking of walking from Assisi to Rome section in early May. I have been thinking of this walk since my Camino de Santiago in April/May of 2014. I met a couple of girls-pilgrims from Germany in October of 2015 while visiting Assisi and they gave me your name for info. And then your book came out and I was so excited, thank you.
    I would love to join your group in September, but with my work schedule I don’t think it is possible. Do you recommend this route for a woman walking alone? I understand it is not like the Camino de Santiago, but are there many pilgrims who walk this route? My other thought was the Via Francigena, perhaps more supported?
    Any info could be greatly appreciated, thank you.
    Janice

    • The Via di Francesco from Assisi to Rome is still fairly quiet, but it’s quickly gaining steam. We’ve heard there is big growth in travel on the VdF this year, based on numbers of credentials being requested. However, it’s nothing like numbers of the Camino de Santiago, and if you walk alone you may discover yourself alone the entire time. The Via Francigena is also very quiet in comparison. If you’re looking for company, you may want to consider something like the Camino del Norte. If you’re looking for more solitude, for the next few years the Italian pilgrimages are a good bet.

  5. Hello Sandy,

    I have recently discovered your book and site and am excited thinking about doing the Via de Francesco. I was contemplating walking alone, as I did part of the Camino de santiago last year, but your group sounds ideal. I imagine it’s full by now but thought I’d check just in case. If it is full, do you plan to lead any groups in the future? I live in Seattle, coincidentally!

    Thanks,
    Sara

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