About SandyBrown

Pilgrim trek writer and guide.

Translation of text: Sigeric’s Journey on the Via Francigena

One of the things I love about my writing work is getting to do research in ancient documents and scholarly articles. As I write the introduction to my Vol. 3 “Lucca to Rome” guidebook, I’ve been digging into the historical roots of this fascinating pilgrimage itinerary.

The manuscripts above come from an 11th c scribe who copied a text recording overnights on the 990 walk of Archbishop Sigeric of Canterbury from Rome to the English Channel. They also record the churches he visited in Rome, providing a rare list of what would interest an Anglo-Saxon prelate from among Rome’s 10+/- churches. Both lists are a fascinating and unique window into the world of pilgrimage from 1000 years ago.

Here’s the transliterated text of the above manuscript along with a translation below. All are thanks to Veronica Ortenberg and can be found in her article “Archbishop Siger’s journey to Rome in 990.”

Transliterated text:

Primitus ad limitem bead Petri apostoli, deinde ad sanctam Mariam scolam Anglorum, ad sanctum Laurentium in craticula, ad sanctum Valentinum in ponte Molui, ad sanctum [sic] Agnes, ad sanctum Laurentium foris murum, ad sanctum Sebastianum, ad sanctum Anastasium, ad sanctum Paulum, ad sanctum Bonefatium, ad sanctum [sic] Savinam, ad sanctam Mariam scolam grecam, ad sanctam Ceciliam, ad sanctum Crisogonum, ad sanctam Mariam transtyberi, ad sanctum Pancratium, deinde reversi sunt in domum. Mane ad sanctam Mariam rotundam, ad sanctos Apostolos, ad sanctus Iohannes [sic] in
Laterane; inde refecimus cum domini [sic] apostolico Iohanne, deinde ad Ierusalem, ad sanctam Mariam maiorem, ad sanctum Petrum ad uincula, ad sanctum Laurentium ubi corpus eius assatus [sic] fuit.

Iste sunt submansiones de Roma usque ad mare: I, urbs Roma; II, Iohannis VIIII; III, Bacane; IIII, Suteria; V, Furcari; VI, sancte Valentine; VII, sancte Flauiane; VIII, sancta Cristina; IX, aqua pendente; X, sancte Petir in pail; XI, Abricula; XII, sancte Quiric; XIII, Turreiner; XIIII, Arbia; XV, Seocine; XVI, Burgenove; XVII, ./Else; XVIII, sancte Martin in fosse; XIX, sancte Gemiane; XX, sancte Maria glan; XXI, sancte Petre currant; XXII, sancte Dionisii; XXIII, Arneblanca; XXIIII, Aqua nigra; XXV, Forcri; XXVI, Luca; XXVII, Campmaior; XXVIII, Luna; XXIX, sancte Stephane; XXX, Aguilla; XXXI, Puntremel; XXXII, sancte Benedicte; XXXIII, sancte Modesanne; XXXIIII, Philemangenur; XXXV, Mezane; XXXVI, sanctae domnine; XXXVII, Floricun; XXXVIII, Placentia; XXXIX, sancte Andrea; XL, sancte Cristine; XLI, Pamphica; XLII, Tremel; XLIII, Uercel; XLIIII, sancte Agath; XLV, Eueri; XLVI, Publei; XLVII, Agusta; XLVIII, Sancte remei; XiJX, Petrescastel; L, Ursiores; LI, sancte Maurici; LII, Burbulei; LIII, Uiuaec; LIIII, Losanna; LV, Urba; LVI, Antifern; LVII,Punterlin; LVIII, Nos; LIX, Bysiceon; LX Cuscei; LXI, Sefui; LXII, Grenant; LXIII, Oisma; LXIIII, Blsecuile; LXV, Bar; LXVI, Breone; LXVII, Domaniant; LXVIII, Funtaine; LXVIIII, Cadeluns; LXX, Rems; LXXI, Corbunei; LXXII, Mundloduin; LXXIII, Martinwzd; LXXIIII, Duin; LXXV, A6erats; LXXVI, Bruwsei; LXXVII, Teranburh; LXXVIII, Gisne; LXXX, Sumeran.

And here is Ortenberg’s translation:

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Ortenberg’s map of Sigeric’s pilgrim churches in Rome

First in the light of blessed St Peter, apostle (St Peter’s Basilica); to Santa Maria at the Angolorum School (now Santo Spirito in Sassia); to San Lorenzo in Lucina; to San Valentino near Ponte Milvio; to San Lorenzo Outside the Walls; to San Sebastiano; to San Anastasio; to San Paolo (outside the walls); to San Bonifazio; to Santa Sabina; to Santa Maria at the Greek School; to Santa Cecilia; to San Crisogono; to Santa Maria Trastevere; to San Pancrazio; to Santa Maria Rotunda (Pantheon); to the Holy Apostles; to San Giovanni in Laterano; to Jerusalem (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme); to Santa Maria Maggiore; to Saint Peter in Vincoli; to San Lorenzo in Panisperna.

These are the submansions (stages or stations) from Rome to the Sea: I. City of Rome, II. San Giovanni in Nono (La Storta); III. Bacccano; IV. Sutri; V. Santa Maria de Forcassi; VI. San Valentino (Viterbo); VII. San Flavianus (Montefiascone); VIII. Santa Cristina (Bolsena); IX. Acquapendente; X. San Pietro on Paglia (near Radicofani); XI. Abricula (Briccole); XII. San Quirico (d’orcin); XIII. Torrenieri; XIV. Arbia (Ponte d’Arbia?); XV. Siena; XVI. Burgo Nuovo d’Isola; XVII. River Elsa (near Colle Val d’Elsa); XVIII. San Martino Fosci (near Monteriggioni); XIX. San Gimignano; XX. Santa Maria, Chianni; XXI. San Pietro Corzzano; XXII. San Genesia (San Miniato); XXIII. Arneblanca (near Fucecchio); XXIV. Aqua Nigra (near Cappannori); XXV. Porcari; XXVI. Lucca; XXVII. Camaiore; XXVIII. Luni; XXIX. San Stefano di Magra (Sarzana?); XXX. Aulla; XXXI. Pontremoli; XXXII. San Benedetto (Montelungo); XXXIII. San Moderannus (Berceto); XXXIV. Fornovo di Taro or Felegata; XXXV. Medesano; XXXVI. San Donnino (Fidenza); XXXVII. Fiorenzuola d’Arda; XXXVIII. Piacenza; XXXIX. Corte San Andrea; XL. Santa Cristina; XLI. Pavia; XLII. Tromello; XLIII. Vercelli; XLIV. Santhiá; XLV. Ivrea; XLVI. Publei (?); XLVII. Aosta; XLVIII. Saint-Remy; XLIX. Bourg-Saint-Pierre; L. Orsiéres; LI. Saint-Maurice; LII. Vervey or Vouvry; LIII. Vevey; LIV. Lausanne; LV. Orbe; LVI. Antifern (?); LVII. Pontarlier; LVIII. Nods; LVIX. Besançon; LX. Cussey; LXI. Seveux; LXII. Grenant; LXIII. St Geosmes; LXIV. Blessonville; LXV. Bar-sur-Aube; LXVI. Brienne; LXVII. Donnement; LVIII. Fontaine; LIX. Châlons sur Marne; LXX. Rheims; LXXI. Corbény; LXXII. Laon; LXIII. Martinwaeth (?); LXXIV. Doingt; LXXV. Arras; LXXVI. Bruay-en-Artois; LXXVII. Thérouanne; LXXVIII. Guisnes; LXXX, Sombre, near Wissant.

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Ortenberg’s map of Sigeric’s stages from Rome to the Channel.

Upcoming speaking engagements – spring 2020

DBD2EC16-024D-4DC0-A694-A69E9E0A5FBBI love to share information about the great pilgrim walks I’m enjoyed over the past ten years. Here are some upcoming dates. If you’re in the neighborhood, I’d love to meet you. I’ll have copies of my guidebooks with me which I hope give you some excellent tools to make a walk of your own. I’m also working on making webcasts or vlogs available for these talks so people who can’t attend can still enjoy the content. Hoping to see you!

 

“Walking Spain’s Camino de Santiago”
March 26, 2020, 6:00-7:00
Location: Rick Steves Travel Center, 130 4th Ave N, Edmonds, WA 98020
Notes: This is my first public event on my Camino de Santiago guidebook. Slide presentation on the facility’s big flat screen TV. Max registration is 70, so early reservations are encouraged.
To register, click here>>>

“Walking the Pilgrim Trails of Italy”
March 28, 2020, 1:00-2:00
Location: Savvy Traveler Store
Address: 112 5th Ave S, Edmonds, WA 98020
Notes: People have been asking for another Italy presentation. The room fits only about 40 people, so early reservations are encouraged. My Italy events generally fill the room.
To register, click here>>>

“Author Event: The Camino de Santiago”
April 16, 2020, 7:00-8:30
Location: Stanford’s Travel Bookstore
Address: 7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, London, UK
Notes: Mark your calendars….registration is not yet open, but the link below should be live by end of February. Room capacity is 50
To register, click here>>>

My new position: Cicerone Press Associate Publisher-Caminos and Pilgrimages

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Selfie taken on my Via Francigena in 2019.

Over the last weeks I’ve been working out a plan with my publisher, Cicerone Press, to join their staff with the goal of helping to bring outstanding pilgrimage guidebook and app resources to English-speaking pilgrims who want to walk on Europe’s great camino/pilgrimage trails. I’m happy to announce we’ve come to an agreement, and I’ll be joining Cicerone’s staff as Associate Publisher at the start of next month. The position is 1/2 time, which allows me to continue pursuing the writing and guiding projects I also hold dear.

My relationship with Cicerone Press began in 2012, after I walked the Camino del Norte in Spain. I’d had to use French and Spanish language guidebooks since nothing was available in English at the time, and I figured if nobody else had done it yet, I should. Just as I was making the first inquiries, I discovered Cicerone was already working with an author for that very route. I offered to review the book when it was ready, which I did, and I liked my interactions with the company. In 2013 I walked the Via di Francesco with friends — again with no English-language guidebook available — and while I was visiting my sister in Honolulu later that year I put together a proposal to Cicerone to publish a guide for that route. They said yes, I wrote the Way of St Francis guidebook, then the Camino de Santiago guidebook (to be released in a few weeks) and now I’m working on a new Cicerone 3-volume guidebook for the Via Francigena.

I’m starting to become adept at

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Our group of pilgrims as we near Assisi in 2016.

walking while recording my GPS tracks, taking notes on the walk and its sights, and taking photographs of my journeys. My winters in my semi-retirement are now spent at my desk where I compile my GPS tracks, gather my notes, edit my photos, lay out my maps, and write about how to enjoy the treasures of these pilgrim walks that have become so dear to me.

Working for Cicerone will certainly be a learning experience. I’ll visit company headquarters in the UK several times each year, but will mostly tele-commute from home, all of which bring their own challenges. The last time I had a permanent position in anything other than a church or church-related institution was over forty years ago! How will Cicerone’s staff react to having a pastor wandering among the desks and bookcases of their offices? As well as working with the great Cicerone crew, I’ll be working with authors, with pilgrim organizations and with local leaders who want an excellent English-language guidebook for their pilgrimage route. It’ll be fun. Cicerone’s press release is below. A big congrats and thanks to Cicerone publisher Jonathan Williams for his investment in the walking pilgrimage market. It means a lot to those of us who love the world’s pilgrimage trails.

Cicerone-Press

Announcement – Associate Publisher: Caminos and Pilgrimages

20 December 2019

For immediate release

Cicerone is pleased to announce the appointment of Sandy Brown as Associate Publisher for Caminos and Pilgrimages. “Sandy’s leadership will be vital in solidifying Cicerone’s position at the forefront of English-language camino and pilgrimage guides,” said Cicerone publisher, Jonathan Williams. The new position will involve direct engagement with pilgrims and organisations, working with Cicerone authors and collaborating with Cicerone’s editorial, production and marketing teams to enhance what is already a notable portfolio of camino and pilgrimage guides.

Sanford “Sandy” Brown is an author, community activist, ordained minister and pilgrimage trekker from Seattle, Washington. Since 2008 he has walked and biked nearly 10,000 kilometers on pilgrim trails in Spain, France, Switzerland and Italy. His walk on the Via di Francesco in 2014 led to his first Cicerone guidebook, The Way of St Francis: From Florence to Assisi and Rome, now in its third printing. Sandy’s latest Cicerone guidebook is a completely revised edition of Cicerone’s pioneering guidebook to the Camino de Santiago by Alison Raju. At its release in January 2020, this new Camino de Santiago: Camino Francés guide, map book and smartphone app will put state-of-the-art resources at the fingertips of Camino de Santiago pilgrims. Currently Sandy is working on an updated Cicerone guide for the Via Francigena pilgrim walk, with two volumes set for production later this year. An ordained United Methodist minister, he holds degrees in medieval history and theology, as well as a doctorate in gender, sexuality and spirituality from Princeton Theological Seminary. Sandy lives in Seattle, USA with his wife Theresa.

In addition to the above mentioned titles, Cicerone’s current camino an pilgrimage guidebooks include The Camino Portugues (Kat Davis, 2018), Camino Inglés and Ruta do Mar (Dave Whitson and Laura Perazzoli 2019, 3rd edition),Camino del Norte and Camino Primitivo (Whitson and Perazzoli, 2019, 3rd edition), Japan’s Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage(Kat Davis, 2019), Walking the Pilgrim’s Way: To Canterbury from Winchester and London (Leigh Hatts, 2017, 2ndprinting), and many more.

Established in 1969, Cicerone stands at the forefront of walking, trekking, mountaineering and cycling guides for destinations all over the world, with nearly 400 titles in print. For more information go to http://www.cicerone.co.uk/contact

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Join us in 2020 to walk some of Europe’s great pilgrim treks

Two months ago I sent in my retirement letter, packed up my office, and set out to live my dream — to make a full-time job of pilgrimage walking. As you may know, since 2008 I’ve been captivated by the great pilgrim trails of Europe, walking over 7500 kilometers (4600 miles) during my limited annual vacation time. While walking, I’ve always kept an eye on how I could share these walks with other people, so I began by blogging here at http://www.caminoist.org, then I moved on to writing guidebooks, and then in 2016 I started my travel company, Pilgrim Paths. Just then, work intervened again and I agreed to return to my first career, allowing me to squeeze out just 2 itineraries during a 2017 leave of absence.

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Luke and I, posing in the mist at Cascata delle Marmore on the Via di Francesco.

Now, my retirement frees me to do pilgrim walking full-time. My 32-year old son, Luke Brown, a musician and experienced pilgrim in his own right, has agreed to give part of his year to the effort as well. So in 2020 we’ll lead groups together on three of the great pilgrim trails of Europe and next year Luke and I will both lead groups separately, expanding opportunities for people who’d like to join in high-quality pilgrim walking.

What makes our offerings different? First, instead of leaving it to chance, we gather groups of people to walk together. Ask any pilgrim, they’ll tell you that conversation is one of the best parts of pilgrim walking. Second, we take care of the arrangements, including baggage service and all translations. It’s more fun to walk when you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to sleep at night. Finally, we know the routes — literally, we wrote the book on them. We can point out to you that special fresco, that hidden treasure that otherwise might be missed. This all combines to make these the most rewarding and interesting pilgrim treks available. Here’s where we’re going in 2020:

03.Florence-AssisiFlorence to Assisi on the Via di Francesco, June 6-21, 2020 — After enjoying the capital of the Renaissance, figuratively step back in time to ancient forests and monasteries of the Middle Ages. The beautiful Casentino National Forest is the beginning and the hometown of St Francis is the end. In between is Santuario della Verna atop Mount Penna, one of Italy’s most beloved holy places. Day 1 Gather in Florence • Day 2 to Pontassieve • Day 3 to Consuma • Day 4 to Stia • Day 5 to Camaldoli • Day 6 to Santicchio • Day 7 to Santuario della Verna • Day 8 to Pieve Santo Stefano • Day 9 to La Montagna • Day 10 to Citerna • Day 11 to Cittá di Castello • Day 12 to Pietralunga • Day 13 to Gubbio • Day 14 to Biscina • Day 15 to Valfabbrica • Day 16 to Assisi • Day 17 depart Assisi (from €3,280 ppdo, €600 single supplement, 174 miles in 15 days).

Assisi-RomeAssisi to Rome on the Via di Francesco, May 9-23, Sept 21-Oct 5, Oct 6-20, 2020 — Walk among vineyards and olive groves through the region that St Francis loved, stopping at key sites in his life. Visit the thundering waters of the largest human-made waterfall and then arrive at the incomparable Eternal City of Rome. Day 1 gather in Assisi • Day 2 to Spello • Day 3 to Trevi • Day 4 to Spoleto • Day 5 to Macenano • Day 6 to Arrone • Day 7 to Piediluco • Day 8 to Poggio Bustone • Day 9 to Rieti • Day 10 to Poggio San Lorenzo • Day 11 to Ponticelli • Day 12 to Monterotondo • Day 13 to Monte Sacro • Day 14 to Rome • Day 15 Depart Rome. (from €2,870 ppdo, €550 single supplement, 132 miles in 13 days).

04.Camino SantiagoPamplona to Burgos on the Camino de Santiago, May 25-June 4, 2020 — While the entire Camino de Santiago can require 5-6 weeks to complete, we offer a 1/3 portion of the walk in 10-day sections each year, making it possible to complete the Camino in 3 years. This year we lead participants in perhaps the loveliest stretch of the Camino – from world famous Pamplona passing among quaint villages to Burgos, the gem of Castile with its World Heritage cathedral. Day 1 overnight Pamplona • Day 2 to Puente la Reina • Day 3 to Estella • Day 4 to Los Arcos • Day 5 to Logroño • Day 6 to Nájera • Day 7 to Santo Domingo de la Calzada • Day 8 to Belorado • Day 9 to Agés • Day 10 to Burgos • Day 11 Depart Burgos (from €2,050 ppdo, €500 single supplement, 136 miles in 9 days).

05.Via FrancigenaCrossing the Alps on the Via Francigena, September 6-19, 2020 — Spanning 1800 kilometers between Canterbury and Rome, the Via Francigena is a World Heritage pilgrim walk. The most challenging and beautiful section is its transit of the Alps at the Great St Bernard Pass between Switzerland and Italy. This unforgettable Alpine walk features snow-capped mountain peaks, towering waterfalls and majestic forests. Day 1 Gather Lausanne • Day 2 to Vevey • Day 3 to Aigle • Day 4 to St Maurice • Day 5 to Martigny • Day 6 to Orsieres • Day 7 to Bourg St Pierre • Day 8 Summit the Alps at Col St Bernard • Day 9 Echennevoz • Day 10 Aosta • Day 11 Chatillon • Day 12 Ponte-Saint-Martin • Day 13 Ivrea • Day 14 Depart Ivrea (from €3,165 ppdo, €700 single supplement, 164 miles in 12 days).

I hope you’ll explore our exciting pilgrimage opportunities and make your reservation to join us! Buon cammino!

Introducing: A new Stage 1 for the Way of St Francis

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The Region of Tuscany’s new network of St Francis trails.

Back in 2014 when I was researching the first edition of The Way of St Francis guidebook I was faced with a challenge. Since the Tuscan portion of the walk was not yet officially recognized by the Regione Toscana I would have to rely on other guidebook writers for the route. That worked for all the stages to Santuario della Verna, where the official Umbrian route begins, but there was a problem with the other guidebooks: they didn’t have a way to walk out of Florence. The most popular guidebook recommended taking a train to nearby Sant’Ellero, a 20km ride from central Florence, and beginning the walk there.

To me it doesn’t seem right to start a walking pilgrimage with a train ride, and that’s what my friend, Jacqueline Ziendlinger felt, too. She had already translated one of the German guidebooks for me and was determined to find a good way out of Florence, so the two of us walked various trails around the Renaissance capital looking for a good route. Finally, I shared the problem with Salvatore Accardi, pilgrim travel expert in Rieti, and he passed on his own solution. I included that in the book as Stage 1 — Florence to Pontassieve — and was proud (thanks to Salvatore) to write the first guidebook that led pilgrims on foot all the way from Florence to Assisi and Rome.

Five years later the Regione Toscana has finally adopted the Way of St Francis as an official, Tuscan pilgrim route. They now actually have FIVE routes to La Verna, including two from Florence. Best of all, they’ve approved a brand new walk from Florence to Pontassieve as the first stage of one of their routes, a stage that lines up exactly with the itinerary of my book and the Dutch and German books. Last month I had the opportunity to walk the path and it’s an improvement, saving a total of 4 kilometers and avoiding a few of the annoying hills of the original route. The walk was pioneered by Leonardo Cortese of Pontassieve, who should get credit for creating a great new route for pilgrims. I had the pleasure of staying overnight at his place in Pontassieve, Leonardo’s Rooms, which I highly recommend for pilgrims. I’ve included a slight variation of it as my new Stage 1 route for my book’s 2019 reprinting.

Revised Stage 1 Profile

Profile of the new Stage 1 route. Now only one hill of 100m height.

The new stage begins at Basilica Santa Croce as did the old, but turns south immediately and for the next 7km follows the Lungarno — the riverside bicycle and pedestrian track that now will carry pilgrims all the way to San Jacopo al Girone.

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The now-official Stage 1 route follows the north bank of the Arno River to San Jacopo al Girone.

From there it heads up the hill and momentarily touches the old route, comes back to Compiobbi where it rejoins the river, heads to Sieci as before, then follows a gravel road and path alongside the railroad tracks right into central Pontassieve. Total distance is only 18.9km and, for all but 150m, the track is free from highway shoulder-walking.

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After Sieci the new route follows the railroad tracks instead of heading up toward San Martino.

There is one drawback. The old route has some amazing views back to Florence, which now are replaced with constant views of the Arno, which is not a terrible tradeoff. The primary advantages other than distance are that there is less walking on pavement and far fewer hills.

If all goes as planned, next spring the Regione Toscana will way mark the route for walkers. Over the next few days I’ll update the full set of 2019 GPX tracks so all of this year’s pilgrims can enjoy this new and improved exit from Florence. Meantime, tracks for the new stage can be found on Wikiloc here.

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Walking along the Arno River on the new Stage 1 of the Via di Francesco outside Florence.

Way of St Francis: Road closed after Monterotondo, here is the temporary alternate

Update: Our thanks to local volunteers who’ve found a much easier alternate. As you approach the gate after the olive oil factory, checked to see if it is locked. If it’s locked, turn off onto a path on the right that allows you to bypass the gate. This alternative has been cleared with the neighbors and property owners, so you’re free to use it with a clear conscience.

The following alternative is retained here in case there is any problem with the work-around above.

I’m sad to report that Way of St Francis neighbors in the Valle Ricca and Tor San Giovanni neighborhoods have locked the gate to the private road on their property, making access to Monte Sacro and Rome much more difficult for pilgrims leaving Monterotondo (Stage 26, Way of St Francis). The gate is locked just after the olive oil plant. A big thanks to Gigi Bettin and volunteers in the Lazio region for finding a temporary alternative that adds only 1.7km to the day’s walk.

The GPX tracks for this alternate can be downloaded from Wikiloc at this link.

Here are directions:

At the end of Via Sant’Angelo (guidebook p. 249) turn left as directed and begin walking along the field with a house and tall, bamboo hedge on your right. Instead of turning right as directed in the book, turn left and (thanks to the kindness of the property owner) follow the edge of the crops, soon coming alongside a ditch. A two-track farm road soon picks up and then becomes a gravel road that ends abruptly at a wood, the Trentani Park. Turn right and continue uphill. Follow this 500m to the first right and in a few meters cross the Via Cesa di Loreto and go straight in a neighborhood of small olive groves and farms. Take the first right (on the paved Via Selva Dei Cavalleri) and then the second left (onto the Via di Quatro Conca). Turn right before the gate of the Villa Sesterzi and follow this road past the back side of the La Cerquetta agriturismo. Continue on past the end of the pavement and cross the wide field on a faint track, aiming at the farmhouse and outbuildings. You are now in the Marcigliana Preserve. Pick up the farm’s driveway, continuing west, until it ends. Turn left and find yourself on the original track.

This is what it looks like from the satellite:

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The original track after Monterotondo is in green; the temporary alternate is in blue.

 

Guidebook updates will be loaded when a permanent alternative track has been set. Thanks for your patience! -SB

Great fun on a new/old project – the Camino De Santiago

You may have noticed that caminoist.org has been quiet the last several months. There’s a good reason — I’ve been immersed in a time-consuming pilgrim project, a new guidebook on the Camino Francés route of the Camino de Santiago.

Wait, another guidebook on the Camino, you ask? In reality this is not a new guidebook, I should say. One of the first guidebooks on the Camino was authored by the esteemed Alison Raju and published by Cicerone Press many years ago. What I’m doing is renewing and re-invisioning Alison’s work in a new format and for a new day by the same publisher. I was approached in Jan 2018 by Joe Williams and Jonathan Williams of Cicerone who recognized it was past time for a refresher on Alison’s work. They wanted the project to look and feel different than other camino guidebooks and proposed this formula:

  • Excellent, well-researched text;
  • Fabulous photography;
  • Coverage of Saint-Jean to Santiago and also Finisterre/Muxía;
  • Outstanding maps in an accompanying map booklet; and
  • An excellent smartphone app that coordinated with the print set but could be used on its own.

Tower of the Irache Monastery outside Estella, Spain

In short, they wanted to put together the best guidebook/map/app set on the market today. How could I say “no” to a goal like that?

I began researching the route — which I’d already walked twice — looking for the best print materials to form the historical core of the project. I read important documents like the Codex Calixtinus, the original guidebook from 900 years ago, and local histories of Galicia. I read art history books and Spanish history texts. Then I planned my trip.

Theresa and I took off for a five week walking camino last July/August and just had an absolute blast together. She’s such a great walker and explorer and so much fun to be with 24/7. Including 2014’s Way of St Francis project, this was her second time walking with me while I was researching, writing, snapping photos and recording GPS tracks. We walked the entire route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Finisterre and Muxía, biking the Meseta to save time.

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Barca, Muxía, Spain.

After the walk the work began. I sat down with notes, tracks and photos and began the work of putting them all together into an excellent guidebook. Cicerone knew I’d need help, so they stepped forward to purchase great photos from Seattle friend Rod Hoekstra, provided seasoned help for optional camino paths from Cicerone author Mike Wells, and then brought onboard my sister-collaborator, Roxanne Brown Nieblas, to put together the accommodations database that is the heart of any great camino guidebook. Jonathan Williams himself walked parts of the path and sent in his photos, too. Last January I traveled to the UK to meet the Cicerone team and compare our notes and expectations. Finally at the end of last month, after many weeks of every-spare-non-work-minute devoted to the project, I pressed “Send” and entrusted the manuscript and materials to Cicerone for creation of what I know will be a beautiful, elegant and extremely helpful new guidebook.

As their work of editing and producing the book begins my work takes a new turn. This summer I’ll return to Spain and bike the Way, draft guidebook in hand, and check out every detail for accuracy and clarity. At the same time I’ll enter information into the database that forms the core of the smartphone app that’s part of the package. I believe what purchasers will get, once it’s all done in January 2020, is a state-of-the-art guidebook that offers more and better information than anything else out there. Through it all I came to a renewed appreciation for the Camino Francés which is unlike anything else out there and really is a must for any walking pilgrim. I hope readers will see my love of this amazing walk through each page.

Recent pilgrims are happy to see that the Cathedral de Santiago’s façade is restored to its original lustre.

I’d never taken the extra time to see this pilgrim statue until this year. There’s Theresa!

No better place to stay in Burgos than Mesón del Cid hotel. Here’s the view at night.

View from the overlook at Grañon, one of my favorite pics.

Some pilgrims wander into a wedding scene. Taken from another great pilgrim hotel – the Parador in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

This little valley is one of the most-photographed landscapes on the Camino.

Theresa leading the way in La Rioja on our way to Viana and Logroño.

That’s Theresa, standing in awe in front of the retablo of the Navarette church.

The herald blows a trumpet to the world to let them know how glorious is his town, Pamplona.