Back on the trail — 700 kilometers to Rome

Stazione Piacenza. A welcome sight.

As the train pulled up to the station in Piacenza yesterday I finally felt that wonderful combinations of feelings — expectation, release, hope, joy, excitement, wonder — that mark the beginning of a camino. Ten minutes before the actual stop I was already up from my seat, pack on my back, standing at the door ready to jump off the train and …. walk. For the next month. Walk on to Rome.

When I say “finally” arrived, that stands not just for the 24 hours of flights and layovers from Orlando here, and not just the three agreeable days spent in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, at the board meeting of our Salud y Paz mission org. It also means I’m finally here after years of knowing about and dreaming about the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim route from England through France, Switzerland and Italy on to Rome. With two months before my new job back home, I opted to spend one of them on as much as I could do of one of my dream walks. The whole walk is 1700 km (1050 miles), which would take more time than I can spare, but by my calculations I can do the last 700 km (405 miles) this month. And I’m excited.

Piacenza’s cathedral after dinner last night.

Today I square away a few things in town. I’ll mail a package, but some food and water for inside my pack, enjoy the sights of this charming and historic town, then Wednesday morning I’ll slip out soon after dawn to feel the trail under my feet again, to watch the dew rise from the fields, to listen for church bells in the distance and hear the quiet lowing of cows and sheep as they begin their days.

I’m truly blessed to be a pilgrim again and with God’s help in 29 days I will rub the foot of Peter’s statue in the mighty basilica that bears his name.

My itinerary — in red.

Photos from my day in Piacenza:

12 thoughts on “Back on the trail — 700 kilometers to Rome

  1. Hi. I am walking from Florence to Rome having finished the Camino de Santiago last year. Navigation was easy on this due to the abundance of waymarks, but I understand that is not the case on the Way of St Francis. I know you have very kindly prepared the required GPX points, but are they needed – I don’t have a GPS device and not sure what spec to buy if I need one. Please can you advise me. Many thanks, Ceri

  2. hi Sandy I will be starting in Spoleto and hiking to Assisi in a month and then onto Florence to sight see. How much Cash do you recommend I bring? Lodging and some food have been prepaid as we are going as a group and pre-booked. I will have a credit card that is accepted internationally. Thanks so much and Buen Camino!

    • Hi Nikki! If your lodging, breakfasts and dinners are prepaid you only need about €10 cash per day for lunches. Dinners can be €20-30 and breakfast is only €5ish since it’s usually only coffee and a roll. Most people just get cash at an ATM when they arrive in country rather than having their bank buy Euros for them in the States. Credit cards work fine for dinners, but are a hassle for small amounts at breakfast or lunch. Buon cammino!

  3. glad to hear you are on camino again and that you are coming back to a one year position at a great church. Exciting events in your life. Congrats!

  4. Hi, I just wanted to give you a heads up that the “here” link on the 2017 page appears to be broken. Looking forward to reading your blog. I’m considering the Switzerland to Rome portion next year, if I can make it work with another hike in the alps. Thanks for the write-up and good luck.

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