Are you ready to leave for an adventurous ride around our unique country?
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.The journey continues for the part from the agricultural plain dominated by the Po, until reaching the green hills of the Sienese countryside passing through the coasts of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
You will stop in Parma, one of the most beautiful surprises of the Via Francigena, then you will continue your journey through the Appennines at the Cisa Pass until the descent towards Pontremoli and the crossing of Lunigiana, territory of castles and medieval villages. Eventually Versilia, where you will be able to set your bike down and enjoy a nice bath, before ending your journey in Lucca, with its enchanting elliptical square.
The scenery varies from the plain of Lucca to the hills of the Val d’Elsa, where the modern wayfarer can plunge into atmospheres that revoke the medieval pilgrimage, among millenary churches and ancient paved paths, continuing on the legendary dirt roads of Siena for kilometres and kilometres, crossing the Val d’Arbia and the Val d’Orcia, icons of the Tuscan landscape. You will visit wonderful villages like Bagno Vignoni, with its enormous thermal pool in the centre of the square, and Radicofani, whose fortress dominates southern Tuscany.
Once you enter Lazio, you will be amazed by the beauty of Lake Bolsena, and charmed by the ancient paving stones of the Via Cassia, still intact after 2000 years. But surprises continue, from the enchanting medieval center of Viterbo, with an entire district dedicated to the pilgrim, to the ancient Etrurian roads, to the Roman amphitheatre of Sutri, completely dug out from the tufo, to the beautiful cycle path that leads you into the heart of Rome, cycling along the River Tevere until your destination: St.
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.
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.
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 overlooking the Viverone lake 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!
Today a demanding leg awaits you, but one that is rich in beauty: along your way you will come to the villages of Bardone and Terenzo, where you will be able to admire ancient churches and some bass-relieves treasured in their interiors. From this point you will face an ascent that will lead you to Cassio, where a brief descending trait will make you think you have reached your destination. However, this is not true: you will have to face another ascent towards Berceto, a little "stone jewel", where you can restore yourselves with local mushrooms and pattona, a typical cake made from chestnut flour.
There will be no rest during the last leg, but this stage holds so many surprises in store that it will make all your efforts worthwhile. From the Cisa Pass you descend towards Pontremoli, the town of bridges and stele statues, where you can enjoy a relaxing walk among the alleyways of the old town centre. Once in Aulla set your bicycle down and visit the Abbey of San Caprasio, which contains archaeological finds from the medieval period. Do not miss a walk along the ancient walls of the Fortezza della Brunella, pretending to be medieval sentries, before taking a walk through the old town centre. And if you are hungry, there is nothing better than the tasty little local focaccias, to be enjoyed still hot accompanied by charcuterie and cheeses.
From Aulla you will travel along the first section of the journey over demanding but gratifying paths: from here you will glimpse the sea for the first time. Along the road you will pass through very green countryside and medieval villages. Once in Sarzana you will be amazed by the Baroque interior of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and you will admire the Gothic façade of the Pieve di Sant'Andrea, the oldest building in the town. You will discover the taste of the "torta scema": try to get one of the locals to explain the meaning of its name.
Your journey will continue along flat paths, following in the footsteps of the ancient pilgrims who, from the Roman port of Luni used to embark towards Santiago de Compostela. Do not miss a visit to the archaeological area, with the ancient amphitheatre and the museum which is home to a splendid mosaic dedicated to the God Neptune. You will finally arrive in Marina di Massa, where you can enjoy the first bath of your journey.
A nice cycle path along the sea will lead you from Marina di Massa towards Pietrasanta. Before browsing among its art galleries and shops we recommend a visit of the town’s Duomo, to walk among its marble columns admiring its frescoed vaults. From Camaiore you will continue up and down among the hills of Lucca: enter through the walls and immerse yourself in its old town centre, where many attractions await you. You will be able to admire the decorated façade of San Frediano, browse in the little shops of the circular piazza to buy spelt and local biscuits to take home with you, conquer the top of the Guinigi tower and admire the town from up high in its hanging garden.
A demanding leg, but one with unique beautiful scenery, awaits you. From San Miniato you will descend towards the bottom of Val d'Elsa to later ascend again towards Gambassi Terme, where you will be able to cross the threshold of the Pieve di Chianni and enjoy a healthy bathe in the hot springs of Gambassi, surrounded by ancient trees. You will continue your journey pedalling across a splendid natural scenery towards San Gimignano, one of the most beautiful towns along the Via Francigena: you will get a foretaste of your arrival when you see in the distance the famous towers that make its skyline unmistakeable. Do not miss a view of the medieval town and its surrounding valleys from the top of the Torre Grossa, or if you haven't yet run out of energy, venture up the steps of the Rocca di Montestaffoli, for an even more special view.
A demanding but unique section awaits you. From San Miniato you descend in the bottom of Val d’Elsa to later ascend again towards Gambassi Terme, where you will be able to cross the threshold of the Pieve di Chianni, where the same Arcibishop Sigeric slept on his way to Rome. You will continue your journey pedalling across splendid natural scenery to San Gimignano, one of the most beautiful towns along the Via Francigena: its famous towers that make its skyline unmistakeable. Do not miss the view of the medieval town and its surrounding valleys from the top of the Torre Grossa, or if you don’t run out of energy, venture up the steps of the Rocca di Montestaffoli, for an even more special view.
From San Gimignano you continue, up and down, through the Tuscan hills to Colle Val d’Elsa, an out-of-time Tuscan village with a charming old town centre and narrow alleyways winding through the stone walls. The itinerary then continues through one of the most beautiful sections of the Via Francigena: a meditative route, along which you can surround yourselves with the silence of the Pieve di Strove, with its Romanesque interiors, or stand in the quietness of the splendid Abbadia at Isola, with its imposing Abbey. Do not miss a stroll along the wall of the breath-taking castle of Monteriggioni, once defending the Repubblica of Siena, before reaching Siena through dirt roads and the ancient medieval hamlet of Cerbaia. An unforgettable way to celebrate your arrival? A plate of pici all’aglione in the illuminated Piazza del Campo. And don’t forget the panforte!
Let’s hope that the sun will be shining during the first day of your journey, because the crests of the Val d'Arbia offer unforgettable views: after saying goodbye to Siena, resting on the hills on the horizon, you will travel along the strade bianche (typical dirt roads of the Sienese countryside) as far as the fortified village of Lucignano, with its fine church. At the gates of Monteroni d'Arbia you will be able to admire the impressive Grancia di Cuna, a fortified farm which once held the reserves of wheat for the Republic of Siena.
From Lucignano you will continue your journey through the Valle dell'Ombrone to Buonconvento. You will cross wall gate and enter the fine old village centre, discovering why its name means "happy fortunate place", before jumping again on your bicycle to continue towards San Quirico over dirt roads and some paved ones: these however will be compensated by the beautiful views of the Val D'Orcia, among hills tinted with charming shades and scattered with vineyards and cypress trees. At San Quirico you will stand enchanted before the gate of the Collegiata, trying to recognise the various architectural styles that blend into its decorations, before enjoying a rest among the green hedges of the Horti Leonini, a fifteenth century garden.
You will continue your journey across the fabulous views of the Val D'Orcia: just beyond San Quirico you will enter a timeless world visiting Vignoni Alto, and you will be able to enjoy a reinvigorating rest in the thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni. Today you will test your strength with a short but demanding leg of your journey which will take you as far as Radicofani: however it will definitely be worth it, because admiring the view from the Radicofani fortress, tired but satisfied, will repay all your efforts. You will also be able to visit the Pieve di San Pietro, a little jewel dating back to the thirteenth century, and take an evening walk in its old town centre, admiring the magic of the illuminated Fortress.
From Radicofani you will walk towards one of the most exciting sections of the Via Francigena, leaving the fortress behind you and travelling along the old Via Cassia, surrounded by scenery of infinite hills dominated by Monte Amiata. You will be able to walk in silence in the Romanesque crypt beneath the Basilica del Santo Sepolcro, among decorated capitals and arches: where, according to tradition, some stones bathed in the blood of Christ are supposed to have been kept.
Your journey will continue gently as far as the first views of Lake Bolsena: from here you will descend into a volcanic crater and you will continue along dirt tracks, alternating thick woods with meadows scattered with olive trees, as far as Bolsena. If you are curious to see proof of the miracle of the Corpus Domini, for which Bolsena is famous, in the Cappella del Miracolo some marble slabs stained by the blood pouring from a Host in the thirteen century are kept. If, instead, you are more interested in the typical cuisine. you can taste the products offered by the lake, such as the Sbroscia, a typical soup made from lake fish and tomatoes.
You will continue through woods and olive groves, on a route that will offer constant views of the lake: you will cross an area famous for the production of Extra virgin olive oil, which we recommend you taste on the a piece of fragrant local bread before arriving in Montefiascone: not to be missed, a climb up to the Rocca, where you will be enchanted before a boundless view. After descending from the Rocca, you can visit a typical wine bar and taste a glass of Est!Est!!Est!!!, which is even better here because it is km zero. If you want to spoil yourself a little more, you will be able to enjoy a pleasant stop at the spas of Bagnaccio, recharging your batteries in its thermal waters before proceeding towards Viterbo, the end of your journey. In honour of your trip, do not miss visiting the picturesque pilgrim’s quarter, before admiring the splendid Palazzo dei Papi and enjoying the silence of the Longobard cloisters of Santa Maria Nuova. And to end on a sweet note, celebrate the end of the journey with the delicious local frittellacce !
From Viterbo the journey continues towards Vetralla, town in the heart of the ancient Etrurian territory, to later continue through the green countryside of Lazio you come to Sutri, a small town rich in attractions. The Roman amphitheatre, completely dug out from the tufo, is something not to be missed. Decide whether to sit on the terraces or to get up onto the stage, but as you leave remember to sign the visitors’ register: it is very important for the custodian, and if he is there he will invite you to do so. After this, proceed to the church of Santa Maria del Parto, the tufo walls of which are decorated in well preserved frescoes. Look for the group of pilgrims among the images, depicted in prayer with their sticks in their hand.
From Sutri we go on towards Campagnano: during the journey you will flank the Mount Gelato Waterfalls, where you can stop for a reinvigorating bath. A panoramic road of the Veio Nature Park will bring you to the gates of Campagnano. Here you can rest in the Venturi Park, the home of a three-hundred year old Yew tree the locals call the “Tree of Death”: but don’t worry, you can sit in its shade without any danger! Get back on the saddle and face the last leg of your journey which separates you from the Eternal City. You will continue through the Veio nature park with its woody hills, before entering the enchanting Valle del Sorbo. Along the way you will be able to admire the sanctuary of the Madonna del Sorbo, but also the old town centre of Formello, with its fine medieval buildings
The leg continues across the countryside of Lazio, so close to Rome yet so distant because of its quiet atmosphere. You will have to cross a short section of trafficked roads to reach the cycle path of River Tevere, an enchanting slow path which will lead you to the gates of Vatican City, where you will be able to end your journey in St.Peter Square. Do not forget to take a triumphant photograph in front of the Basilica, before celebrating the end of the journey freshening up with spring lamb, pecorino romano cheese, and perhaps a delicious maritozzo with cream...you’ve deserved it!
Our servcies end after breakfast, unless you have booked any extra nights with us.
Have a safe trip home!
Hotel Cecchin*** is located in the historic center of Aosta, a few steps from the Arch of Augusto and monuments that characterize the city. It born in 1982 on the Roman Bridge, along the Via Francigena, from Roman building.
The Hotel Relais St. Gilles is located in Verrès, in the tranquility of the low-lying valley. Rooms are well-furnished, spacious and clean and are equipped of these comfort: air conditioning, private bathroom, satellite TV and free Wifi.
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 panoramic position 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.
The Hotel Excelsior enjoys a central location, in the Railway Station Square, just a short walk from the historical centre of Pavia. Rooms are clean and spacious, but old-fashioned. Breakfast is normal and various.
Euro Hotel is located in a strategic position, on one of the main road of Piacenza, close to the city center. Rooms are old-fashioned, but clean and spacious with air conditioning, mini bar, TV and satellite TV with international channels, direct dial telephone, free Wifi. Breakfast is rich and various.
Hotel Torino*** is situated in the historical centre of Parma, just in front of the famous Teatro Regio, 200 metres from the Dome, Battistero and Piazza Garibaldi. Rooms are clean and warm, wi-fi is free, air conditioning, tv, telephone. Breakfast is really good, and varied too. Welcoming staff.
Located in Berceto’s historic centre, just a few steps from the Romanesque Cathedral, La Casa dei Nonni offers different accommodation types with its five rooms: single, twin and double rooms (extra beds available for children). The location is well-finished and beautifully decorated. Breakfast with house specials is served on the ground floor and for the dinner it's suggested to try the restaurant.
Hotel Demy*** is located in a strategic position for visiting Cinque Terre. Rooms are basic and clean, but old-faschioned and neglected. WiFi isn't working properly. Breakfast is normal.
Hotel Annunziata is located in Massa, just 4 km from the coast and its popular beaches. The structure is dated and it has rooms old-fashioned, but clean. Breakfast is normal and the staff is helpful.
Hotel Rex*** is 80 m from the main train station and 100 m from the ancient walls of Lucca. Rooms are quiet and well-finished with free Wifi, air conditioned, telephone and fridge. Staff is helpful and courteous. Buffet breakfast is rich and varied.
What in the thirteenth century was a severe monastery cloister is now Hotel San Miniato, refined historic home sits on a hill overlooking the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Pisa. The rooms are comfortable, elegant and clean. Breakfast is good and rich.
The hotel is both overlooking the ancient Piazza della Cisterna used to welcome pilgrims from all over the world and charming hills of San Gimignano. This stately homes is located in an excellent position, into the heart of San Gimignano.
Hotel Chiusarelli*** is located in the city center of Siena and finds its natural setting in a neoclassical villa built around 1870. The Hotel has been completely renovated in 2013 and offers spacious and clean rooms with air conditioning/heating, telephone, free Wifi and TV with Sky Vision. The Hotel doesn't have the lift. Quality breakfast.
Hotel Palazzuolo is situated within a private park of 11 hectares on the edge of the village of San Quirico d’Orcia. The structure is a little bit dated, but rooms are well-furnished and some of these have a balcony with views of swimming-pool or Val d'Orcia. The restaurant is open every day and it offers traditional dishes.
Set between 2 rolling hills in the heart of the Val D’Orcia Valley, Agriturismo Selvella is a renovated Tuscan country house Radicofani 3 km away offering typical rustic rooms and a summer pool. The location is quiet and totally surrounded by nature. Rooms are comfortable and cozy with free Wifi, air conditioned and some of these have a view overlooking tuscany countryside or Radicofani. Owners are hospitable and helpful. Quality breakfast and cuisine.
This agritourism is just 250 metres from the centre of Bolsena and it has a nice view of the Bolsena Lake. Rooms are spacious and well appointed. These offer flat tv, free WiFi, air conditioning, heating, independent bath and shower and some with private entrances. Breakfast is rich and various of sweet and savoury food.
Hotel Riario is located in the center of Medieval Viterbo, in a builiding of the 16th century. Rooms are furnish in elegant way, comfortable and well-finished. These offer TV, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning. Breakfast is good and rich.
Agriturismo Montefosco is nestled in the countryside of Lazio a few steps from Rome and surrounded by its hazelnut trees. Room are well-finished, clean and well-furnished with free Wifi, TV, air conditioning/heating. There is quality cuisine and the restaurant offers traditional dishes with local ingredients. Staff are helpful and courteous.
B&B Nonna Loreta is located in a quiet and comfortable house and it offers a garden and a terrace. Rooms are well-finished and clean with air conditioning/heating, TV, private bathroom and some of these have common bathroom. Breakfast is richand varied. Owners are helpful and cozy.
Selene Style Hotel, located in the center of Rome, is very close to the main attractions and it is also close to the metro. Rooms are all recently renovated and are modern and beautifully decorated. These are equipped with free Wifi, soundproofing, air conditioning, TV, minibar, coffee/tea maker, telephone with direct line. Breakfast is rich and good.
What is included
· Nights in double room in **/*** hotels , B&B and agriturismi with breakfast
· luggage transportation from hotel to hotel
. 2 nights
. 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.