The first part of the Via Francigena cycling itinerary takes you from the snowy peaks of Grand St. Bernard to the fertile Pianura Padana plain, cycling throughout the rolling Piedmont hills. Admire the unique scenery of the "Checkered Sea" around Vercelli, take your time to sunbathe on the fluvial beaches, contemplate the Alps that dominate the scenery as you cycle in the valleys descending through orchards and woods.
At the end of each cycling day, reward yourself with foodie treats: each of the cities you will encounter on the way offer delights for the palate.
The Saint Bernard Pass is open from June to September: in the other months, the trip starts directly from Aosta.
This itinerary is carried out with funding of Routes4U, joint programme between the Council of Europe and European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Sloways and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Routes4U joint programme.
Your adventure begins in Aosta, ancient roman centre in the middle of a valley surrounded by the Alps. Admire the medieval capitals in the cloister of St Orso, and visit the impressive roman theatre. At the end of the day, stroll through the streets of the town centre, looking at the alpine peaks that appear over the roofs of the historical houses.
Today, a transfer will take you to the snowy peaks of the Saint Bernard pass, where Saint Bernard himself built the first pilgrim hostel. You will then descent to Aosta on a panoramic path with breathtaking views. You will first follow a provincial road, then you will continue through forests and orchards as you cross beautiful villages such as Etroubles and Saint Rhemy.
The itinerary continues across the valley floor, on the cycle path that runs along the River Dora, through castles and vineyards. Along the way you encounter the enchanting Saint Germain castle, with its imposing Midday tower that used to defend the noble De Mongioveto family. From here the itinerary continues to Verrès through breath-taking views.
Entering in Piedmont, the alpine scenery gives way to the gentle Piedmont hills, as ascents and height differences become less and less challenging. You alternate wood trails to typical towns such as Ivrea, with its nice old town centre and the tall tower of Santo Stefano. Continuing the ride you arrive close to the imposing Serra of Ivrea, the biggest European drift, until the nice village of Roppolo where a cozy, family-run bed and breakfast awaits you.
Today you enter the area of rice fields, which get flooded from March to May, creating a landscape of great fascination. The leg is easy and enjoyable, and you exit the philological itinerary of Via Francigena to visit the Bosco della Participanza (Wood of Community), whose name originates from the fact that the locals have been taking care of the wood together. If you appreciate local dishes, try the Panissa!
Crossing the fertile plains of the Po river valley you leave Vercelli, the Sesia river, the vast rice fields and the region of Piemonte. As you reach the Ticino river you enter Lombardy region. During the renaissance Duque Ludovico Sforza ruled this land and it is said he commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to design Vigevano’s beautiful central square. Mingle with the locals as you relax at one of the outdoor terraces on the square. Today’s ride is flat and relaxing giving you ample time to visit this picturesque town.
The green way of the Ticino River, among the most important in Italy, lets you immerse in a savage nature, and if the weather is good you may even sunbathe on the beaches or meadows near the river, looking out for great tits and squirrels that run through the trees. You then leave the river to visit the Certosa di Pavia, beautiful monastic complex built in the XIVth century, before arriving to Pavia, one of the “pearls” of Via Francigena: we suggest you end your journey with a nice visit to the wonderful historic center, and discovering the young soul of the city with an aperitiv in Piazza della Vittoria, animated by university students.
This part takes you through the flood plain of the basso Pavese, with its typical flood terraces. You reach the ford of Sigerico, the “transitum Padi”, where walking pilgrims are transported to the other bank: the cycling itinerary allows you to cycle along the river Po until Piacenza, entering gate to Emilia Romagna, a land of great hospitality famous for its food and wine delicacies. Here you will be able to taste the famous charcuterie, washed down with a glass of Gutturnio wine, and pass through the Porta del Paradiso to discover the Romanesque interiors of the Basilica.
Today’s quiet, flat leg leads you to Parma: along the way do not miss a visit of the Cistercian abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba, where you can stand in thought for a few minutes in the silence of the cloisters or admire the carved wooden interiors of the church. The ride continues among the Parma hills, a foretaste of Tuscan mountains, until arriving to the final point of your trip: Parma, the Italian province boasting the largest number of PDO and PGI gastronomic products. A great place to celebrate the end of your trip!
Our services end after breakfast, unless you have booked any additional services with us.
Have a safe trip home!
La Casa del Movimento Lento is a B&B and hostel for travellers, a place to get together and share experiences along the Via Francigena. Surrounded by the green hills of Piemonte that descend till the lake of Viverone, that you will be able to admire thanks to the panormaic psoition of this strucure. A B&B that has its familiar atmosphere as a strong point.
Hotel Matteotti lies just 300 meters from the town centre, close to the main points of interest. It has fifteen rooms, all quiet, ideal for a relaxing night after many kilometres on your bike. The interiors are bright and elegant.
What is included
· Nights in double room in **/*** hotels , B&B and agriturismi with breakfast
· luggage transportation from hotel to hotel
. transfer from Aosta to Grand St Bernard
· maps and detailed description of the itinerary
· Pilgrim Passport
· Medical and luggage travel insurance
· 24h phone assistance
What is not included
. Transfers to the starting location and from the arriving location of the tour
· lunches and dinners, if not otherwise stated.
· visits and entrance fees - tips
· personal expense
· possible sojourn taxes
· everything that is not mentioned in the "What is included" section.
These services can be added to the ones included in the base price of the tour:
· Single room supplement
· Half Board supplement
· Bicycle rental
· Transfers to reach the starting location or to leave the arriving location of the tour, which will be quoted on request.