Since The Way of St Francis: From Florence to Assisi and Rome was published in 2015 there have been lots of developments and lots of people with questions about many aspects of the trek. To make it easier to answer questions I’ve created this page as a one-stop source where common questions are answered and resources can be shared. Please feel free to contact me with any new questions.
Compared to the Camino de Santiago, how hard is the Way of St. Francis?
Due to the topography of Italy, the Way of St Francis is significantly more difficult and, as a result, much more beautiful. Italy consists of vast mountain ranges running down its length and most any Italian pilgrim walk will include walking among the mountains. Here’s a comparison of elevation profiles between the Way of St Francis from Florence to Gubbio, the Way of St Francis from Assisi to Rome and the Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied-de-Port to Burgos. As you can see, there is no single climb as large as the Route Napoleon on the first day of the Camino Frances, but there are several steep climbs along the way and many more “ups and downs” than on the Frances.
Is there a similar infrastructure of pilgrim hostels like on the Camino de Santiago that allows me to walk without making reservations?
The Camino de Santiago routes are very crowded, and the constant flow of pilgrims makes it easy for hostels to simply be open all the time. Because there are many fewer pilgrims on the Italian routes, most hostel hosts have other work. Making reservations allows them to do their “day jobs” and then meet you at the hostel when you arrive. So in Italy it’s best to call ahead and share as accurately as possible your planned arrival time.
Are there good signs and way marks or it is necessary to have a GPS?
Many stretches of the Way of St Francis are very carefully marked by local volunteers, but in some cases the volunteer infrastructure is not yet in place, meaning some way marks and signs are missing. For this reason it’s best to have a detailed guidebook and/or a GPS loaded with the GPX tracks.
Where can I find the GPX tracks for the Way of St Francis? And how do I load them onto my GPS?
Here’s a link to a post on this site that describes how to download the GPX tracks from Cicerone Press and here’s another link showing how to use them in the MotionX GPS app for your smartphone. I also strongly endorse the Galileo Pro app for the Way of St Francis.
Where can I find a complete listing of accommodations on the Way of St Francis?
You’re in luck. The most comprehensive listing of accommodation is right here on this site. It’s constantly updated and can be found right here. The list includes all known hostels as well as conveniently located monasteries, agriturismos and hotels. Many of these accommodations specialize in hospitality for pilgrims on the Way of St Francis. Some are “by donation” which means there’s no set price, but a donation is expected. A good rule of thumb is to give 10-20 Euros for a donation, more if meals are included.
How do I get a credential for the Way of St Francis?
You can receive a beautiful, official credential from the Via di Francesco by entering information in the online form here. Volunteers who receive your data then determine what country you’re in and either send you the credential directly or have it sent by partners such as American Pilgrims to Italy. Your credential should arrive within a few weeks.
How do I get my Testimonium in Assisi and Rome?
Good question. It’s pretty easy in both cases. First, walk a minimum of 100km on foot prior to Assisi or Rome, then:
- In Assisi: Go to the Statio Peregrinorum (Pilgrim Office) at the Basilica di San Francesco. To find this office, go to the kiosk at the car gate adjacent to the Lower Basilica. Ask there for the Pilgrim Office. If the office isn’t open, the “guard” (usually a friar) will tell you when it will be open or will call the friar on duty to meet you there. The office itself is just a few steps inside the car gate, on the left (south) side of the courtyard.
In Rome: It’s easiest to go to the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi adjacent to Piazza San Pietro at Piazza Papa Pio XII, 9/11, 00193 Roma. The good folk of this lovely office will welcome you and give you your testimonium. It is also possible, but a little less reliable, to go into the Sacristy at Basilica San Pietro for your testimonium. This office, located adjacent to the left transept of the church is closed from about 1:00-4:00 each day and, while they may have some blank testimonia, they sometimes balk at writing one out. Instead, plan to get a tinbro here, which the staff is happy to provide.