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: www.pilgrimpaths.net. 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.

img_9036

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.

img_9290

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.

DSC00186

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.

DSC04313

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.

IMG_7868

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*

img_9750

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.

img_9637

Lake Bolsena along the Via Francigena.

23 thoughts on “Come walk with me in beautiful Italy in 2017!

  1. Ciao, Sandy,

    Well, you got my attention! – to say the least. I’ve thought about the walk you’re writing about, or parts of it many, many times.

    Let me tell you a bit about myself to let you know where I’m coming from. I’m a retired Baptist pastor having served in Texas, Montana, and New York state. My wife. Claudia, and I visited Italy many times from 2001 through 2008. I was “forced” to retire (by my wife) in 2008 and we moved to Italy permanently. We now have lived in Pienza since that time – and are loving it!

    I’m a walker, but have not done long, long distances. I’ve dreamt of doing a part of the Via Francigena, have read about it, followed people who have done it, etc. I’ve thought about walking the Camino, but watching “The Way” (many times) is as close as I’ve gotten.

    Much of our good, fun walks have been in the Dolomiti (I got “hooked” on mountain walking while in Montana and having lived for a while in Colorado). Several trips there.

    Now, I’ve been fearing that I’ve waited too long. I’ll be 74 in two months. I’m in relatively good health. I’m well equipped with the gear, etc., and, with the schedule you’ve shared, I have lots of time to get into the shape I need to be in to do the parts of the trips you’ve written about. My question is: are you open to people signing up for parts of your walks. I would be most attracted to the part from Siena to Radicofani – or, maybe Acquapendente. I also could offer a side trip to Pienza where I have access to a wonderful hermitage that has roots to the Via Francigena (a booklet I wrote on it is attached) and we have a wonderful view from our terrace looking over the “Gladiator” view where Russell Crow’s character walked through the wheat fields at the end of the movie. It’s just made for a glass of wine with the view…

    Anyway, that’s my situation. I would love to hear your response to see where this goes. Please let me know. As I said, you have my attention…

    Cordiali saluti,

    Gary Moore

    • Awesome! Thanks for your interest, Gary. I’ve seen plenty of walkers in their seventies, so age is not the limiting factor. If you’re healthy and in good shape you can do this. I suggest to people a double test: 1) can you walk up and down the stairs of a 10-story building in a reasonable amount of time, and 2) can you walk 10-12 miles on successive days? The first question is about cardio fitness and the second question is about stamina. I also encourage training that includes testing boots/shoes and socks on varied terrain for blister prevention. Anyway, like you say, there’s plenty of time to make this work.

      As far as doing only part of the route, I’d discourage that since it makes our arrangements a little more complicated and takes away the opportunity for another pilgrim to join us for the entire walk. I imagine if we end up at the last minute with fewer than our limit of walkers it could be a possibility, though.

      Ahhh, Radicofani. I love that place! Let’s stay in touch. Cheers ~
      Sandy

      • I’m trying to increase my walking, but run into time constraints due to work. So I’m doing bike rides when I’m short on time. Currently looking for a 10 story building. What is a reasonable amount of time?

      • A strong walking pace is 3-4 mph. A goal for stair climbing (going up) is to not have to pause to catch your breath. A StairMaster at the gym works well, too. The goal is build strong quads, calves and cardio. Have fun in your training!

  2. Hi, Sandy.

    As I told you in a recent private exchanges, my wife and I are definitely interested in walking in Italy next year, after having logged in over 4700 kms on various “caminos” in France, Spain and Switzerland (all leading to Santiago de Compostela) over the past 11 years.Whether we would opt for an “organized” walk of the kind you are putting together -something we have never done – or for doing it on our own – our practice thus far – remains to be seen. But the king of package yiu offer certainly is very appealing …..

    Our interest in your offer on the Via Francigena lies in the fact that all of our other longs treks thus far were linked to Santiago.And so id the Via Francigena, of course. On the “down side”, but is it really?, your plan calls for walking mostly in July (July 1 to Aug 7). Might not that be quite warn in Italy on those days?

    As for your plans for walks from Florence to Santuario Della Verna, to Assisi, to Rome, it would call for walking in September and October: might those be ‘better’ months for walking? Should we opt for the St. Francis Way, I cannot say yet whether we would go for the entire trek, or just for the Assisi-to-Rome part.

    Costs will naturally be a factor in our decision as to we would go-it-alone or in your good company, and in this latter case, on which of the options you offer.

    Do not hesitate to contact me directly if you so wish.

    Best regards from Canada.

  3. Hello from Norway, I have finished 2 Caminos, the Camino Frances and Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago, alone.

    I am intersted in the tour from Sept. 20th until Oct. 5th, Assisi to Rome.

    I am quite fit, 70 years old, but prefer to have day distances not longer than about 20 km. Could you send some information please. Also on size of Groups, possibility for backpack transfer. etc.

    Kind regards, Hilde Schlaupitz

    • Hi Hilde ~ Thank you for your note. It will be a delight to have an experienced pilgrim with us. I have you on our list as a possible participant for the Sept 20 Assisi to Rome trip. Our longest day is 25 km, and the second longest day is 20.5 km. We will have baggage transfer service for all participants, and our maximum group size is 10 walkers. I hope this can work for you. I’ll stay in touch as we get more information about pricing. Thank you so much!

  4. Sounds fantastic, Sandy and I would love to do a walk in Italy but sadly at this point financially and time-wise I don’t think is feasible for me. I do love to keep up with your caminos though and have thoroughly enjoyed your blog and photos. For me, it bings back such good memories of my year living in Italy! And I’m sure my Italian would snap back into shape pretty quickly!

  5. Hi Sandy, I am a student of Theresa’s. My partner and I are interested in the trip from Florence to Della Vern Sept. 03-10 next year. Are we too late to get on your list?
    KaranYvonne

    • Not too late at all, Karan. I’m excited to hear of your interest! I have put your “moksa” email onto our contact list so you will receive updates as more details become available. Thank you!

  6. Sandy,
    I am very interested in joining you for the September-October Assisi to Rome Pilgrimage. I look forward to hearing more!
    Mary

    • Yep, I got it nearly a month ago and replied on Facebook. You’re on my list. We’re still waiting for pricing and I’ll send you a note as soon as we have the final numbers available. Thank you so much!

  7. Hi Sandy

    I have read your book on the St Francis Way and have wanted to do this for several years. Unfortunately, much as I would love to join your walk in 2017 due to work commitments this wont be possible. Do you think it is likely that you will be running them in 2018?

      • Hi Sandy
        I had another look through your itineraries for walking groups next year. I was wondering about the Lucca – Siena in July. I could probably manage to block out a week – 10 days.
        I also looked at the blog you wrote when walking this section (which I enjoyed). Will the daily milage be similar to those you did and are we talking high level/arduous?
        Sheelagh

      • Great! Some of the days are indeed arduous, however we will have van service to help us out. I’ll put you on the contact list for more info as it becomes available. 🙂

    • I’m posting the distances and difficulty ratings very soon — hopefully by the end of the day. You’ll have to be the judge since a lot depends on fitness level. Many of these walks are a full year away, so if you feel you need extra conditioning there’s still a good amount of time left!

  8. Hi again, Sandy.

    I reiterate the content of my earlier post about our (wifi and I) potential interest in your September walk. Any idea as to when you will be in a position to price those?

    Best regards from Canada.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s