This blog is all about the Via Francigena route, a Day-by-day itinerary from Lausanne to Aosta.
In the fall of 2022, I walked the Via Francigena from Lausanne to Rome.
If you haven't heard about the Via Francigena so far, you can read my other Via Francigena blog.
When I planned to walk the Via Francigena, I knew in advance that it was not the Camino de Santiago, not in terms of accommodations, budget, number of pilgrims, pilgrims' menu, etc.
The Via Francigena starts in Canterbury (England).
The walk from Canterbury to Rome is about 2000 km and takes 3 months.
I didn't have the time required for that, so after researching, I decided to start the journey from Lausanne (Switzerland).
It is very convenient to get to Lausanne thanks to the airport in Geneva.
That way, I could also enjoy the dramatic landscapes of Switzerland and experience Italy and Tuscany on foot.
I traveled alone on a low budget, I knew that Switzerland is very expensive and that there are not many budget places to stay for pilgrims with a low budget, so I took a tent with me to save costs.
You will find campsites in some towns along the way, although not in all of them.
Regarding wild camping, I have met some who did and found places. I did not bother on this trip because it is more difficult to find good spots, especially in Switzerland.
This blog is about the itinerary I did day by day and the places to stay in each town.
I hope this will help you plan the Via Francigena route in the best way.
I will divide the Via Francigena itinerary into three parts.
Part 1: Lausanne - Aosta (125km, 9 Days)
Part 2: Aosta - Lucca (560km, 24 Days)
Part 3: Lucca - Roma (400km, 18 Days)
The stage between Lausanne and Aosta is simply spectacular. It starts at Lake Geneva through the vineyards and picturesque towns, continues towards the Alps, and culminates in the Great St. Bernard Pass.
Distance: 1100 km
Required days: about 50-54 Days
Average cost: 45-55 euros per person per day
Accommodation: Camping, Convent, Hostels, Monastery, B&B
I walked the Via Francigena off-season in October-November. I was lucky because the weather was great with a few days of heavy rain.
July-August can be too hot, especially in Italy.
I recommend April-June or September and October.
Okay, so when I entered November, I had to make changes to adapt myself mainly to the accommodations for pilgrims so as not to sleep in expensive hotels.
At the end of October, many places to stay for pilgrims are closed, therefore, if you are traveling on a low budget, you need to understand which ones remain open and adjust the walking days.
Even so, the offer of accommodation for pilgrims is not large, so in November, it is even trickier.
The main problem I encountered was that some pilgrim accommodation was closed after the end of October. So sometimes I had to pay more for accommodation or adjust my walking to towns where the pilgrim accommodation did remain open.
What this means in practice for those traveling in November is that you should call the place to stay for a day or two and ask them on the phone if they are open so that you don't get to the town and find out that it is closed and it will be too late.
For those who travel in the summer, there should be no problem with this matter. Until I got to Lucca, the stages I walked sometimes were different from what was listed in the "Official Guide".
This is one of the disadvantages when walking in the off-season because sometimes I had to cover longer distances to find an open place to stay within my budget.
Beyond that, In retrospect, I'm glad that it turned out that way.
After all, I stayed in small charming towns that I might not have experienced because I would have continued according to the official stages.
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Accommodation prices in Switzerland are expensive.
Even if you stay in a shared room in a hostel.
I stayed in Lausanne Youth Hostel, 53 francs for a bed in the dorms!
It was so crazy expensive. It was the cheapest place I found because there is no accommodation for pilgrims in Lausanne.
You should have a pilgrim's passport to stay in places of accommodation for pilgrims.
You can pre-order the pilgrims' passport online or purchase it from various places along the route.
I didn't order the pilgrims' passports in advance because I knew I could get one in Lausanne.
When I arrived in Lausanne, I went to the tourist office, where I was directed to an address about a 10-minute walk away from where I could pick up the pilgrims' passports.
The place is a bit tricky and hard to find at first, or at least I didn't really understand where exactly it was.
You can see this in the picture below.
The address is Rue de Bourg 29, 1003 Lausanne, Switzerland.
Walk up the stairs after the restaurant, and there you will find the office where you can purchase the pilgrims' passports for a nominal sum of 5 euros.
So after you have the pilgrim passport, what remains is to start walking via Francigena!
Distance: 21 km
Time: 5 hours
My first day begins in Lausanne. A beautiful city at the foot of Lake Geneva.
You should spend time in the city and walk around it for an hour or two, and admire the impressive cathedral and the entire Place de la Palud area.
The starting point in Lausanne is on the shore of Lake Geneva, where the Olympic clock is. From the Olympic clock, you can find the waymarks.
In Switzerland, the Via Francigena is route 70. After I saw it, I started walking my first steps on the Via Francigena.
The weather was perfect, warm, and pleasant. I took advantage of the sunny day to take many breaks and enjoy the lake view.
The walk starts near the lake and continues by the lake for the first two days.
In the first part of the day, You walk right on the water's edge, with a sequence of bathing areas, parks, marinas, and residential areas where you can get an impression of the high standard of living in the area.
You can walk peacefully and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake and the Alps.
After about 8 kilometers you will have to start climbing, going up and down the hillside, already in this short section, I discovered that Via Francigena is not going to be a walk in the park.
You can admire the vineyards and the 2 picturesque towns of Rivaz and Saint-Saphorin. You will find wineries, and you can meet many day hikers.
This stage is not easy and is characterized by many ups and downs. However, the view is rewarding and worth every moment. I stopped every 20 minutes to take pictures of the spectacular view.
After the 2 picturesque towns, the route will lead you to Vevey.
The first day is spectacular in its beauty and gives a taste of the picturesque small towns and terraced vineyards on the shores of Lake Geneva.
I camped before Vevey, a perfect place on the lake with a spectacular view! If you have a tent, don't miss this campsite and try to get a spot close to the lake.
The camp staff is kind and speaks excellent English.
The campsite also has a restaurant where you can have dinner and breakfast.
A highly recommended place, right before Vevey.
Distance: 25 km
Time: 6 hours
What a perfect morning!
I open my tent and this stunning view in front of me first thing in the morning.
After packing the tent and equipment, I walked about 40 minutes to Vevey. A lovely place.
I found a small place that makes relatively cheap sandwiches and has seating with the best view of the lake.
In the first part of the day, continue walking along the comfortable promenade on the banks of the lake until you reach the resort town of Montreux.
Before reaching Montreux, I took advantage of the sunny weather to take a break by the lake.
Montreux is known for its "riviera" and many tourist centers in its vicinity such as Chillon Castle, Charlie Chaplin's house which became a museum telling his life story, the famous Lavaux vineyard terraces, and of course, the town's beautiful promenade along the lake.
Personally, it felt strange to me. So many tourists that I forgot for a moment that I was walking on a pilgrim path.
A short walk after Montreux, you will reach the impressive Chillon Castle. It is the most famous castle in Switzerland.
Switzerland's fairytale castle stands out against the shores of Lake Geneva and is a vision of Gothic grandeur.
The castle features rounded turrets, pitched roofs, an impressive Roman fortification system, as well as a fascinating network of passageways, rooms, and outhouses behind its picturesque facade.
It is highly recommended to visit and be impressed by the ancient history.
You can book an Entrance ticket to the Castle in advance here.
After visiting the castle, the route from Villanueva to Roche takes a turn, and you leave Lake Geneva towards the mountains.
After about an hour of walking, you pass by many industrial plants until you reach Roche. A small and charming town that is worth stopping here for a short drink until you continue walking for another hour and reach the final destination of the day, Aigle.
In Aigle, there is another castle you can visit from the 12th, located in an area surrounded by vineyards.
Aigle Castle is mainly used as a museum of the wine industry at that time but also describes the history and culture of the region in the 12th century.
I contented myself with visiting Chillon Castle, but you can visit both.
I stayed at a campsite in Aigle. Although not at an impressive camping spot like yesterday, but beautiful enough.
Distance: 17.5 km
Time: 4.5 hours
I woke up in the morning to perfect weather for walking. I wandered through the beautiful town for a coffee before walking.
The day begins in the vineyards of the beautiful Aigle and the magical castle.
It was just the harvest grapes season. It's hard work. They saw me and gave me delicious grapes.
After the vineyards, the path continues with a tough walk of about an hour and a half in a forest, where you climb about 300 meters until you reach Ollon.
After the difficult climb, a beautiful vantage point that overlooks the town of Ollon awaits you.
The good thing about this day is that you hardly walk on asphalt.
I like to take my time when I walk and not run. I took a break for an hour in the town of Ollon. I drank a beer there and enjoyed the weather.
I want to point out something that is not so much related to the itinerary. Many times in all types of hikes, I see people constantly rushing as if they have to conquer a destination or have a competition with themselves.
I don't understand why not experience the small towns on the way. Why not take your time and do everything your way?
So even if I arrive late at the final destination of that day, I know that I am enjoying the journey which is more important to me than reaching the accommodation of that day.
After Ollon, there is an ascent of about 150 meters and a nice walk to Massongex. After crossing the Rhone river, you will reach Saint-Maurice.
In the town, you will find the monastery of Saint-Maurice, which is the oldest in Switzerland and has a pleasant hostel for pilgrims. It served as an important pilgrimage center for the veneration of the saint of the Theban Legion.
I didn't have a bed in the monastery because I didn't book in advance. The number of beds is limited.
I stayed in Hôtellerie Franciscaine, 60 francs per person in a single room (there is a discount for pilgrims, I paid 45 francs include breakfast)
An excellent place that is expensive but worth the money, especially when you wake up to a beautiful view from the window.
Distance: 16.5 km
Time: 4 hours
A beautiful day, relatively short and easy.
The day started with a good breakfast at the hotel where I stayed.
If you are traveling on a budget and staying in a hotel, try to choose hotels that include breakfast. That can save some costs.
This stage passes through several towns close to each other so that even if the day is short, you can take advantage of it to spend time and see more of them.
The day begins with a walk in the Bois-Noir (Dark Forest), then the large and impressive waterfall right on the path of the via Francigena.
Pay attention to the route signs before and after the waterfall because it can be confusing. It took me a few minutes to figure out where I should turn.
From the waterfall, we move towards Martigny through another walk in the forest.
Before reaching Martigny, I stopped to rest in the town of Vernayaz, which is about 5 km from Martigny.
In the same bar in the town, for the first time, I met 2 pilgrims.
Manuel from Portugal started walking from London! and Simon from Australia walked from Canterbury, the official via Francigena starting point.
Unlike the Camino de Santiago, where at every stop in the town you always meet hundreds of hikers every day, on the via Francigena, it's really not the same. It was exciting to meet pilgrims like me for the first time.
I highly recommend stopping at Bar Victoria in the town before Martigny. The owner is lovely and speaks several languages.
For me, it is an important part of the journey to talk with the locals.
On Martigny, I stayed in TCS camping.
I slept in a shared room because the price between a shared room and a camping spot was pretty much the same. So there was no sense in sleeping in a tent.
Distance: 19.5 km
Time: 5 hours
The weather changed and became rainy.
I left the campsite and sat down to drink coffee that would wake me up and give me energy because I knew I had a hard day ahead.
A tough day! You start to climb towards the Great St Bernard Pass and reach an altitude of almost 1000 meters for the first time.
Throughout the day, you will gradually increase in height.
From Martigny, you will have to go up and climb a difficult ascent of about an hour and a half until you reach Bovernier, where you can make a small stop for coffee.
Halfway to Bovernier, you will cross a bridge that goes over the river Dranse.
You cross a bridge over a flowing and raging river that the bridge sways slightly. Once you have crossed it, you will continue to go up and down gradually to the foot of the mountain.
Tchyko Bar is a cute little place at the beginning of the town of Bovernier that welcomes pilgrims with courteous service.
After Bovernier, this is the hardest part of the day, walking in a thick forest, many ups and downs, walking between big stones and in my case, wet from the rain.
Pay close attention to the route markings because you can easily get confused in this part.
At the end of this part, you reach another town, Sembrancher.
Keep in mind: if the weather becomes rainy like in my case, it makes the climbs, especially the sharp descents very slippery, so take care of yourself. Walking sticks will make it easier for you in such cases.
From Sembrancher, we still continue a steady ascent but in a much more comfortable way. The view here is simply stunning.
It is a challenging but rewarding day that goes through the mountains, on goat paths on the edge of cliffs with beautiful views, forests, and a lot of green in the eyes.
Today you start to feel that you are getting closer and closer to the Alps.
At the end of the hard day, you will reach Orsières.
In Orsières, for the first time, I stayed in a place for pilgrims. I met again with Manuel and Simon. You need to request an access code at the tourist office or at the train station. There is 2 beds and mats on the floor.
Distance: 14 km
Time: 4 hours
Another difficult day characterized by a gradual increase.
Compared to yesterday, the ascent is less steep with fewer gradients. You will pass mainly through forest and asphalt tracks that will make it easier to maintain the walking pace.
On the first day of the ascent of the Camino Frances to the Pyrenees from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, we follow in the footsteps of Napoleon, who gave the route its name. Here too, we walk again on Napoleon's route.
After Orsières, you will have an ascent of a fairly comfortable path.
You will start to feel that you are gaining altitude over time.
Prepare your legs and knees because 2 more climbs await you, the first a short before you reach Dranse (it's not really a town but a collection of buildings). Then you will go up to Liddes again.
I highly recommend making a stop here to refresh yourself, maybe have a drink, eat something small or at least rest a bit after the walk and before continuing the route.
Right at the entrance to Liddes, you will find Restaurant De La Channe, an excellent and pleasant place to sit with fine food.
After Liddes, you will have another 5.5 km, about an hour and a half to 2-hours of walking uphill until you reach Bourg-Saint-Pierre.
Bourg-Saint-Pierre is a small town, the last one to the summit. Although it has no services, it maintains a community hostel which among other things, is also a place to stay for pilgrims.
Important tip: in Bourg-Saint-Pierre, there are no services such as supermarkets or shops and places to buy groceries.
If you arrive on Sunday, like me, when everything is closed, take food or basic groceries that you need with you ahead of time because from now on, there will be no places to buy groceries.
At least not until crossing the Alps, you can equip yourself in Orsières or Liddes.
I stayed in Maison St-Pierre. It's a big renovated historic building with many beds and a kitchen that welcomes pilgrims. It's necessary to call for an access code.
Distance: 11.6 km
Time: 4 hours
If crossing the Pyrenees from France to Spain has become a myth for pilgrims to Santiago, then you can already imagine what it means to cross the Alps, via Grand-Saint-Bernard, at an altitude of 2,473 m.
One of the experiences that moved me the most was crossing the Alps on foot.
There is a continuous ascent of about 850 meters from Bourg-Saint-Pierre until you reach the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass.
On the way, you will pass the Lac des Toules lake, where you can find a small place to stop for refreshment and rest while you watch the lake and the stunning Alps.
When I looked at the forecast, I knew the next few days would be rainy and snowy. Luckily, on the way to the pass, the weather was cold but stable.
A short but demanding day at the end of which they reach one of the peaks of the via Francigena and the highest point on the route.
Since it was a relatively busy day, I took my time. I didn't rush. I stopped a lot to rest and take in the beautiful surrounding scenery.
Towards the end, you will walk next to the road and see how the cars come so easily, but where is all the fun in that?
Walking to Grand-Saint-Bernard is so satisfying and worth it.
You feel like you really did something special. That's how I felt at that moment.
However, it must be said that I was traveling in the off-season and I didn't feel any rush of tourists around me.
The large car park was empty apart from a few cars. I can assume that at the peak of summer in July and August, this is a very popular area and full of travelers who come by car for a day trip.
Because it is a relatively short day, you can visit the small museum. It will allow you to learn a lot about the history of the place and about the beloved dogs.
Tip: If you are traveling on a low budget and want to save some money, you can walk for about 3 minutes and go to the Italian side to Bar Ristorante Du Lac, a cute and affordable place. There you can understand the price difference between Switzerland and Italy.
When I returned from the restaurant on the Italian side to the hostel, it was already dark, that's created a dramatic view of the lake.
Since it's a mountain pass, there aren't too many options to choose from.
There is a place to stay on the Swiss side and another place a 2-minute walk across the border to Italy.
I chose to sleep on the Swiss side, which is what most pilgrims do.
If you stay at Great St Bernard Hospice, the place offers dinner and breakfast.
Distance: 13 km
Time: 3.5 hours
Benvenuti in Italia!
The first day in Italy. What goes up must come down.
Get ready for a 1200-meter descent from Saint Bernard to Étroubles.
The night I stayed in San Bernard Pass, the weather changed, and there was a snowstorm during the night.
I traveled in the fall, so the weather is not as stable as in the summer.
I woke up in the morning, and everything was covered in snow! Honestly, it was beautiful scenery.
As a result of the snowstorm, we had no choice and in consultation with the priest, we decided to get off the pass via the road, as we could not see anything, poor visibility, heavy fog, snow, and hail on our faces, the walking route was completely covered in snow, we could not see the route marks.
We walked carefully along the sides of the road and descended to the picturesque town of Saint-Rhémy.
Halfway to Saint-Rhémy, there is a bar called Praz d'Arc Chez Lugon, a lovely place to stop with a beautiful view.
As soon as we descended 900 meters, the weather changed from one end to the other. The sun came out, and we returned to the Via Francigena path. Until Étroubles, the weather was stable and good.
As you enter Italy, you begin to see the red and white tape that marks the way.
Some walk from San Bernard Pass to Aosta in one day. It's 28.5 kilometers with a cumulative descent of more than 2000 meters. This is especially possible for those who are short on time.
The advantage to me of doing it in 2 short segments rather than one long day is that you can get to Aosta early, visit and explore the city and give it enough time because there is a lot to see in Aosta.
I didn't book a place to stay in advance, and when I arrived in Étroubles, all the places were closed (probably because it was October). I talked with locals who directed me to Échevennoz.
About a 20-minute walk, there is a place where you can spend the night.
We got to Affittacamere L'Abri by chance because the other places were closed, and it was a local experience and warm hospitality.
Although it was relatively expensive for me, it was worth the money.
The place also operates a local restaurant which is across the street where the mother cooked us dinner.
Distance: 15.6 km
Time: 4 hours
An easy and short day with a beautiful mountain view and a lot of green scenery. As I said, I deliberately chose to split this day and not go all the way to Aosta so that I could get to Aosta early to visit the city.
I can walk 30km every day to Rome but why? Why not stop for a moment and experience Italy and the route itself?
The day begins with an easy and leisurely walk through the forest to Gignod.
From Ginod, it becomes a steep descent through populated areas, stairs, and a more urban area as you get closer to Aosta.
Aosta lies in the center of the Aosta Valley and is the capital of the region. The city lies at an altitude of 700 m above sea level. Around it rise the snowy peaks of Becca di Nona, Monte Emilius, and Becca di Viou.
Throughout the generations from the megalithic period of the beginning of the third millennium BC, through the Roman period, when Aosta was an important city, to the present day - the valley was an agricultural hinterland, a crossing point for military forces and a transport route between Switzerland, France, and Italy.
The provincial city of the valley was nicknamed "Rome of the Alps".
The Romans founded it in 25 BC and many Roman remains are scattered throughout it and testify to its glorious past.
When you arrive in the city, put your bags in the place of accommodation and start exploring the city, from the Roman bridge which is not far from the impressive triumphal arch Arco di Augustus.
Continue to the city center via Sant'Anselmo street and pass the Roman city gate - Porta Pretoria, where you can see the remains of the Roman theater and amphitheater.
Finally, continue to Aosta's impressive main square, Piazza Sanno, which boasts a beautiful town hall built in the neoclassical style in the 19th century.
If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer and help.
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