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.
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:
Florence 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 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).
Pamplona 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).
Crossing 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!