Come walk with me in beautiful Italy in 2017!

2017pilgrimpathwalks(N.B to all readers: The final dates for these trips are listed at my pilgrimage company’s new website: Please look there for all the details about our 2017 walks including exact dates and pricing.)

Over the last years I’ve come to understand how much fun it is to be a pilgrim walker — to me it’s travel at its best. But over the last months I’ve come to understand how much fun it is to be a pilgrim leader. By the end of September I will have led a couple of dozen people on pilgrimage adventures from Assisi to Rome, and it’s a total blast! I love watching people accomplish things they never dreamt they could, and see things they never imagined they would see.

So this year I made a big decision. I’ve decided to work with an Italian tour company to put together a series of package pilgrim itineraries in 2017 that will allow people to join me on what I consider to be the two great pilgrimage routes of Central Italy: the Via Francigena and the Via di Francesco.

I’ve come to love both of these Italian cammini over the last couple of years. My book, The Way of St Francis: From Florence to Assisi and Rome is the sole English-language guidebook for the Via di Francesco, and I’ve researched it in-depth and walked it several times over the last three years. It’s a green and scenic walk, punctuated with historical, artistic and gastronomical treasures. Then, just this year, I walked from Piacenza through Lucca and Siena on the Via Francigena, also a beautiful and historic route with world-class wonders of its own.

So my question is: “Wanna walk with me in Italy in 2017?” I’ve posted my schedule below and I invite you to come along on any or all of these five package itineraries. They offer potential pilgrims short or long walking opportunities along these scenic and historic pilgrim trails. The benefit is that my Italian tour company and I will make all the overnight and food arrangements along the way in convenient hotels and agriturismos, we will guide you in preparation and packing and then I will accompany you so you won’t have to worry about directions or translations. We will also have a daily baggage service which allows you to carry only a light day pack. Your job is to walk, discover, and enjoy. The trip will be limited to no more than 10 in a group, and a key consideration is that pilgrims walkers must be fit and healthy enough for what are often challenging days of trekking.

Here are your 2017 options:

July 1-8, 2017: Lucca to Siena on the Via Francigena*

The bookends of this adventure are two of Italy’s most beloved and historic towns — Lucca and Siena. In between are historic towns in their own right, like the towered city of San Gimignano and the walled hill town of Monteriggioni. Unforgettable scenery nearly every day through the heart of Tuscan hill country.


Lucia’s cathedral facade.

  • Day 1 – Gather, tour, overnight in Lucca
  • Day 2 – Lucca to Altopascio
  • Day 3 – Altopascio to San Miniato
  • Day 4 – San Miniato to Gambassi Terme
  • Day 5 – Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano
  • Day 6 – San Gimignano to Monteriggioni
  • Day 7 – Monteriggioni to Siena
  • Day 8 – Tour of Siena
  • This trip can be paired with the following trip for a Lucca to Siena to Rome itinerary

July 9-21, 2017: Siena to Rome on the Via Francigena*

Siena’s cathedral is one of Italy’s treasures and the charming town is filled with art and architecture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Climb to the castle at Radicofani on a day of stunning scenery. Look out from Montefiascone’s Pilgrim Tower over Lake Bolsena and then enjoy pleasant and picturesque Italian villages before making your triumphal entry into Rome.


Piazza del Campo in Siena.

  • Day 1 – Gather, overnight in Siena (optional Siena tour)
  • Day 2 – Siena to Buonconvento
  • Day 3 – Buonconvento to San Quirico d’Orcia
  • Day 4 – San Quirico d’Orcia to Radicofani
  • Day 5 – Radicofani to Acquapendente
  • Day 6 – Acquapendente to Bolsena
  • Day 7 – Bolsena to Montefiascone
  • Day 8 – Montefiascone to Viterbo
  • Day 9 – Viterbo to Vetralla
  • Day 10 – Vetralla to Capranica
  • Day 11 – Capranica to Campagnano di Roma
  • Day 12 – Campagnano di Roma to La Storta
  • Day 13 – La Storta to the Vatican

July 23-August 7, 2017: Assisi to Rome on the Via di Francesco*

Few Italian towns are as beloved as historic Assisi which holds the birthplace and final resting place of St. Francis and his friend, St. Clare. Explore quiet hill towns and majestic panoramas on a trek through beautiful Spoleto and Nera Valleys of Umbria and Sabine region of Lazio. End with a joyful entry into the unsurpassed Eternal City of Rome.


The Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi

  • Day 1 – Gather, tour, overnight in Assisi
  • Day 2 – Assisi to Spello
  • Day 3 – Spello to Trevi
  • Day 4 – Trevi to Spoleto
  • Day 5 – Spoleto to Macenano
  • Day 6 – Macenano to Arrone
  • Day 7 – Arrone to Piediluco
  • Day 8 – Piediluco to Poggio Bustone
  • Day 9 – Poggio Bustone to Rieti
  • Day 10 – Rieti rest day (optional Greccio, Fontecolombo and city tour)
  • Day 11 – Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo
  • Day 12 – Poggio San Lorenzo to Ponticelli
  • Day 13 – Ponticelli to Montelibretti
  • Day 14 – Montelibretti to Monterotondo
  • Day 15 – Monterotondo to Monte Sacro
  • Day 16 – Monte Sacro to the Vatican

September 3-10, 2017: Florence to della Verna on the Via di Francesco*

After enjoying the capital of the Renaissance we figuratively step back in time to ancient forests and monasteries of the Middle Ages. The beautiful Casentino National Forest is the setting and St Francis’s beloved Santuario della Verna atop serene Mount Penna with its active Franciscan convent is the goal. This is a challenging itinerary and includes mountain hiking in the Central Apennine range.


Florence’s famed Duomo and Baptistery

  • Day 1 – Gather, tour, overnight in Florence
  • Day 2 – Florence to Pontessieve
  • Day 3 – Pontessieve to Consuma
  • Day 4 – Consuma to Stia
  • Day 5 – Stia to Camaldoli
  • Day 6 – Camaldoli to Badia Prataglia (or Santicchio)
  • Day 7 – Badia Prataglia (or Santicchio) to Santuario della Verna
  • This trip can be combined with the following trip for a Florence to Assisi itinerary or can be combined with the following two trips for a Florence to Assisi and Rome itinerary.

September 10-19, 2017: Santuario della Verna to Assisi on the Via di Francesco*

From the heights of Tuscany to the fields and forests of Umbria we enjoy sites off the tourist track. Gubbio, a pristine medieval town, is the centerpiece while Assisi is the crown. In between are blue lakes, fields of sunflowers and vast forests of pine and oak. Each night features another gastronomical delicacy from the rustic Italian kitchens of the Valtiberina and Valdichiascio regions.


Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio

  • Day 0 – Optional tour of Santuario della Verna
  • Day 1 – Santuario della Verna to Pieve Santo Stefano
  • Day 2 – Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro
  • Day 3 – Sansepolcro to Citerna
  • Day 4 – Citerna to Citta di Castello
  • Day 5 – Citta di Castello to Pietralunga
  • Day 6 – Pietralunga to Gubbio
  • Day 7 – Gubbio to Biscina
  • Day 8 – Piscina to Valfabbrica
  • Day 9 – Valfabbrica to Assisi
  • Day 10 – Assisi tour (overnight option)
  • This trip can be paired with the following trip for a Santuario della Verna to Assisi to Rome itinerary

September 20-October 5: Assisi to Rome on the Via di Francesco*


Me with two Italian pilgrim friends entering Rome.

The two capitals of pilgrimage in Italy are Assisi, home to St. Francis and St. Clare, and Rome, home to Sts. Peter and Paul and a panoply of others. This itinerary links Assisi and Rome in a green and beautiful walk of sixteen days through Umbria and Lazio and enters busy Rome along a scenic and quiet bicycle trail.

  • Day 1 – Gather Assisi (tour option)
  • Day 2 – Assisi to Spello
  • Day 3 – Spello to Trevi
  • Day 4 – Trevi to Spoleto
  • Day 5 – Spoleto to Macenano
  • Day 6 – Macenano to Arrone
  • Day 7 – Arrone to Piediluco
  • Day 8 – Piediluco to Poggio Bustone
  • Day 9 – Poggio Bustone to Rieti
  • Day 10 – Rieti rest day (optional Greccio, Fontecolombo and city tour)
  • Day 11 – Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo
  • Day 12 – Poggio San Lorenzo to Ponticelli
  • Day 13 – Ponticelli to Montelibretti
  • Day 14 – Montelibretti to Monterotondo
  • Day 15 – Monterotondo to Monte Sacro
  • Day 16 – Monte Sacro to the Vatican

So what’s next?

Drop me a line and let me know which of these — or which combination of these — are interesting to you. I’ll stay in touch as we get pricing and additional details. And one other little prize: Theresa and I are also putting together a two-week “stay-cation” in August 2017 at a lovely Umbrian guest house from which we’ll take day trips to artistic, historic and gastronomic sites. More details to follow. Hope you can join in the fun!

*Itineraries are tentative and subject to change. Pricing information to follow.


Lake Bolsena along the Via Francigena.