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Along the Via Francigena ancient pilgrimage trail

Thursday, 23 September 2021 19:11

Tuscany has a huge variety of ancient historical and religious itineraries of inestimable natural and cultural excellence like the Via Francigena, which has religious origins and led ancient pilgrims to holy places passing through villages, towns and cities. Travelling along this route Sigeric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, entered Tuscany over the Cisa Pass on his way to Rome. Today the Via Francigena is an important cultural itinerary of great beauty, the embodiment of the new slow travel trend, a journey of great personal enrichment to be made on foot or by bike.

In the footsteps of Medieval pilgrims

The shortest way for Florentines to get to Rome was along the Via Sanese which crossed the Chianti area through charming villages and towns such as San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Badia a Passignano, San Donato in Poggio and Castellina in Chianti. The Romea Strata, a route that follows the ancient roads travelled by pilgrims from Central and Eastern Europe, joins the Via Francigena at Fucecchio and San Miniato, and from there continues towards holy places such as Rome and Santiago de Compostela. Today in Northern Italy five different routes meet in the Veneto region, and from there the old road continues along the stretch known as the Romea Nonantolana-Longobarda. In Tuscany there are the six final stages, passing through Cutigliano, San Marcello Piteglio, Pistoia, Vinci, Cerreto Guidi and Fucecchio.

From Stade in Germany to St. Peter’s Square in Rome

The Via Romea Germanica follows one of the main routes that connected the North Sea with Rome in the Middle Ages.  Described in detail in 1256 by the Benedictine monk Albert of Stade, it runs for almost 2,200 kilometers from Stade (Germany) to Rome, crossing Germany, Austria and Italy.  In Tuscany it proceeds through the Casentino area, comes to Arezzo and then continues through the Valdichiana valley to Cortona and on to Orvieto in Umbria. The route then enters Latium, and in Montefiascone joins the Via Francigena, ending up in Rome’s spectacular St. Peter’s Square.

The St. Francis Sanctuary of La Verna

The Ways of St. Francis are a series of trails in Tuscany connecting the many places linked to the life of St. Francis of Assisi. From Florence modern pilgrims can travel to the famous Sanctuary of La Verna where St. Francis received the stigmata and then cross the Tuscan Valtiberina valley to reach Arezzo, continuing on to Cortona where it is possible to visit the fascinating Le Celle Hermitage.

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