During the Middle Ages, St. Francis used to walk along the ridges and valleys of the Apennines, looking for signs of God's presence in nature and speaking to the people about his message of peace, humility and brotherhood. The first section of the Via di Francesco crosses the green landscapes of the Casentinesi Forests National Park, following some sections of the Via Ghibellina.
The path starts from the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence, and winds through a rural landscape that will offer unexpected and unforgettable views that seem to belong to a bygone era, such as the medieval center of Stia or the Monastery of Camaldoli.
The journey ends at the Sanctuary of La Verna, but why not continue following the footsteps of St Francis towards Umbria?
Arrive in Firenze and breath the Renaissance air all around you: take a stroll along the tiny alleys and end up in piazza del Duomo, or climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo to get a panoramic view, at sunset!
After a short transfer by train or bus you start walking towards La Consuma pass. It's a long walk which runs from the bottom of the valley to the top of the mountains at Consuma pass, with great views over the Sieve valley. You walk mostly in the shade of the forest, passing by Ferrano castle.
From the pass you descend easily to the bottom of Casentino valley. Most of the itinerary runs inside the woods, with an optional detour to the village of Castel Castagnaio. You have also options of an alternative route with great panoramic views over the Casentino valley, before you reach the beautiful hamlet of Stia.
Today you have a long and demanding walk in terms of difference of altitude. You start at the bottom of the valley, you reach the top of Apennines edge and then you descend to Camaldoli monastery, walking through the Casentino's rural landscape, until you reach the fascinating Eremo di Camaldoli, dating back the XI century. A must stop!
Today a relatively short but demanding walk for the difference in altitude going from Monastero di Camaldoli to the top of mountain edge, and then down to the village of Badia Prataglia. The walk runs mostly inside the forests. There is also an alternative route you can follow: 6 km longer but more interesting in term of landscape, with spectacular views of southern Casentino valley, its villages and the surrounding mountains.
Today’s walk runs through the forests till the hamlet of Frassineta from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Vallesanta, La Verna mountain and the Apennine's ridge.
Today you finally arrive in Chiusi della Verna. Head for the hotel and check in. If you arrive early enough, you can visit the Franciscan Sanctuary in the afternoon. The Sanctuary is opened every day of the year from 06:30 to 19:30 hrs (22:00 hrs in summer) NOTE: To enter the Sanctuary, you need to cover your chest and arms and wear trousers / skirts long to the knee.
Last day is included. Service ends after breakfast.
You can reach Florence by train: if your flight is not landing in Florence, you can take a direct train from Pisa, Rome or Bologna, which have international airports. More information and timetables on the Trenitalia website: www.trenitalia.com
Return from Chiusi della Verna: you can take a Tiemme line bus from Chiusi della Verna to Bibbiena. From Bibbiena you can reach Florence by train, changing in Arezzo (Bibbiena-Arezzo and Arezzo-Florence)