This is part 2 of my Via Francigena walk. Here I will share my detailed Via Francigena itinerary from Aosta to Lucca.
This part starts in the beautiful Aosta Valley, an excellent starting point for those who want to start walking the Via Francigena.
If you haven't heard about the Via Francigena so far, check out my Via Francigena blogs.
Aosta is well connected by buses and trains. This section is characterized by a dramatic change of scenery after the beautiful views of the Alps and the crossing of the San Bernanad pass.
In the stage between Viverone to Fidenza, the walk lasts about a week on a continuous and never-ending plain of rice fields, some would say the most boring part of Via Francegina. I can agree with that.
After Fidenza, we return to the mountains and beautiful landscape again until you enter Tuscany for the final part of the journey, the most popular stage on the Via Francigena between Lucca and Rome.
My Via Francigena walk divided by 3 parts:
Distance: 27.5 km
Time: 7 hours
A beautiful day where you can be excited in the magnificent Aosta Valley and the high mountain peaks, some of which are more than 3000 meters.
The big descent we made from Great San Barndad is over, and today we go back up and down gradually.
The route we are walking today is part of the route of an old irrigation canal. Extraordinary networks formed in early times. The canals capture water from the main rivers and transport it along the mountainside for tens of kilometers.
Most of this irrigation network dates back to the Middle Ages, between the 13th and 15th centuries, and given today's resources, sometimes extreme measures were required to get beyond the impressive rock walls.
Over the hundreds of years, the irrigation canal continued to operate, even if recently, in many sections, their route was transported by pipelines and buried underground.
You will pass through many tiny towns until you reach Chatillon.
As mentioned, I traveled with a tent mainly along Switzerland. In Italy, there are many more places to stay for pilgrims at affordable prices.
At Châtillon, there is room for pilgrims by donation. There are only 3 beds for pilgrims.
Since I didn't book in advance, I didn't have a bed left and I couldn't find a place to stay at a low price. This is why it is advisable to book accommodation one-two days in advance, as the number of beds is often limited.
I walked another 4 kilometers to Camping Paradise in Saint-Vincent.
A small, homely and very cute campsite.
Distance: 18 km
Time: 5 hours
A day somewhat reminiscent of yesterday, walking in a rural area on wine terraces with quite exhausting ups and downs, especially the steep descent after Torille-Rivarolla but with a beautiful view all along the way.
At the end of this day, you will arrive at Verrès, a town dominated by its castle.
We arrived in Verrès at the weekend on a Friday, so the town was lively and full of people.
I, Simon, and Manuel, the pilgrims I met on the fourth day of the route, connected and continued to walk together.
Unlike the Camino de Santiago, where you meet dozens of people every day, here the social experience is different.
The connection between the pilgrims is even greater, and exciting because not many people walk this way, certainly not in the off-season.
We stayed in a place intended for pilgrims as a donation.
The priest met us and welcomed us, a kind and lovely guy.
In the evening, we went out for dinner at an excellent local restaurant called Ristorante Due Valli. Most of the locals eat here.
Because it was a Friday night, the restaurant was full of people. During dinner, we talked with young locals who live in the town and continued our evening to a party at a bar not far away.
Simon preferred to go to bed early and I can understand him.
Manuel and I followed the locals to the party.
I never imagined that I would finish the night at 3-4 in the morning when the next day, I have to get up at 7 in the morning and continue the route.
But that's the beauty of this type of journey. When have I had the chance to celebrate with locals in a small town in Italy? You never know what a day will bring.
I intentionally mention it here in the road story of the itinerary because even on this route, unlike the Camino de Santiago, where if you stay in the Albergue municipal, you have a gate and closing time, you usually cannot go out and come back after 9-10 at night, which does not allow experience night of this type.
Here on the via Francigena, even if you stay in places for pilgrims, there is almost no such thing as having to return at a certain time, except very few places.
One of the most amazing days I've had in terms of a local social experience.
More accommodation in Verres
Distance: 18 km
Time: 5 hours
A short, beautiful, and very light day, just what I needed after last night, where I slept only 3 hours and woke up upside down, probably after all the wine yesterday, but it was worth it!
I was so tired, so I started my morning with a slow and lazy walk. Luckily this stage is easy and not complicated, most of the day is a flat walk without too many sharp ups or downs.
At the beginning of the day, you will go up to Verres Castle, a 13th-century castle that is on a hill and offers a lovely view. You can enter the castle for a nominal fee of about 5 euros or admire it from the outside.
Later you will pass an ancient bridge with three arches over the Dora Baltea river.
The Siena Romanesque-style bridge that originated in the Middle Ages was rebuilt between 1770 and 1776 and was the only connection with the town of Echallod.
The advantage of this short day is that you can enjoy it without rushing, visit the ancient villages, take longer breaks, and enjoy this wonderful area of Italy.
About a 5-kilometer walk from the bridge, you will reach Bard and its famous citadel.
Hail Citadel is a fortified complex built in the 19th century by the House of Savoy. The fortress is located on the banks of the river Dora in Lataya, near which an ancient Roman road also passed.
You can choose to reach the fort by the free lift or on foot. There are several museums inside, the fortifications museum, the museum of the Alps, the prison museum, and the natural history museum.
I was surprised because the fortress was used as a filming location in the Avengers: Age of Ultron.
After the impressive citadel, you will have another 4 kilometers of beautiful walking with a view overlooking the valley until you reach Pont-Saint-Martin.
Pont-Saint-Martin is the last town in the province of Valdostana, through which we traveled for five unforgettable days.
Unfortunately, when I arrived, I realized that the hostel for pilgrims was closed, and the other places to stay were expensive for me.
After a short search, I found a campsite about another 45 minutes away.
That's why I took a tent with me for this route. I knew that the affordable places to stay for pilgrims are quite limited, at least as far as the Tuscany part, and that's without mentioning that they almost don't exist in Switzerland.
So if I want to save on costs, it's always good to have a tent with me.
Distance: 21.5 km
Time: 5.5 hours
Today I woke up to a beautiful and sunny morning that helped me dry the tent from the humidity.
After Pont-Saint-Martin we say goodbye to the mountains and the Aosta Valley and enter Piedmont. It's amazing how quickly the landscape changes.
Today's trail passes through lots of towns almost every few kilometers. You should stop at Settimo Vittone, a beautiful little medieval town.
Beyond the many towns, the path passes by Lago Pistono, a peaceful and pleasant lake that is worth stopping and taking a break from. There is an excellent restaurant right by the lake if you are hungry or want to drink something.
I took advantage of the pleasant and sunny weather to drink a beer in front of the lake view. What's better than that?
From the lake, there is a walk of about 5 kilometers until you get to Ivrea, where I ended the day.
Ivrea is a small and lively town where you can find a hostel with an excellent atmosphere for pilgrims.
More accommodation in Ivrea
Distance: 20 km
Time: 5 hours
A beautiful day passes through 2 lakes, one small at the beginning of the day and another bigger lake when you reach Viverone.
The path passes between starting orchards, patchy areas, vineyards, and olive groves.
On the way, you will pass through historic towns such as Bolango and Piverone and 2 ancient churches, Chiesa di San Pietro and Gesiùn di Piverone.
At the end of this day's section, you will reach Viverone.
Viverone is a charming little town with a promenade along the lake.
What's better than ending a day of walking with a beer and a view of the beautiful lake?
Important to know: there is no cheap place to stay for pilgrims in Viverone. There is a place in Piverone, a small and beautiful town.
If you are traveling on a budget, you can spend the night at the campsite on Lake Viverone.
The campsite is only open in the summer. I was in October and found the campsite closed.
I decided to stay in Viverone because it was already getting dark, and I didn't have many choices. I looked for places to stay, and they were all occupied or too expensive.
In the end, I found b&b about a kilometer and a half above the town on a tough climb, so I recommend booking a place to stay in Viverone in advance.
Distance: 16.5 km
Time: 4 hours
Today you will feel a drastic change in the landscape.
The last hill is between Viverone to Cavaglià, and then you leave the mountains and enter a flat plain, which I can say is quite boring that will continue for the next few days.
I started the day late because I knew it was a short day and not particularly difficult.
A walk of about 5 kilometers to Cavaglià where I stopped for coffee because, between Cavaglià and Santhià, there are 11 kilometers of continuous walking without towns where you can stop on the way if you want to stop for coffee or eat, so take that into account.
After the rest at Cavaglià, I went straight all the way to Santhià.
Santhià is a large town with all the necessary services, including a train station.
From this stage, towns are bigger than they were until now, and there are more services and train stations. If God forbid you are injured or want to skip a certain section, it's very convenient to use the train.
Santhià has a lovely hostel for pilgrims right on the main square.
The keys must be picked up at the Piazza de Roma, either at the Caffè della Piazza (+39 333 6162086; closed on Mondays) or at the municipal police station (+39 0161 936220). They have a locker and they ring in the same building, but with entrance through Corso Nuova Italia, 134.
More accommodation in Santhia
Distance: 28 km
Time: 6.5 hours
This day begins the section of the walk that will last about a week and a half that I liked least in the via Francigena.
The walk is easy and flat, but the path passes through an open area in famous rice fields, with mosquitoes that will not hesitate to attack and harass you all day.
My luck is that I walked the trail in October, so there were mosquitoes, but I don't want to imagine what it's like to walk the path and this section in the peak of summer when the temperature is high with not a drop of shade and while the mosquitoes are eating you alive.
In addition, you will add to the discomfort of the trains that fly at high speed not far from you.
It is a day of 28 kilometers, so it is recommended to start the day early, especially, if you are walking in the summer, to avoid the burden of the heat and the sun that will accompany you throughout the day because there are almost no shaded areas.
I got up in the morning and started walking like every day.
After about 8.5 kilometers, I reached the town of Vercellese San Germano, where I made a stop.
Luckily, there was one open bar, so I stopped for a drink because I knew that from now, 19 kilometers of continuous walking without passing through another town and without options for shady stopping places.
I finished my coffee, put my bag on my back, and continued walking toward Vercelli.
As I already said before, I don't have much more to say about today's path because it is a straight flat path that goes through open rice fields and mostly lots and lots of mosquitoes. For those sensitive to mosquitoes, bug spray is a must in the coming days!
I didn't meet a single soul on the trail all day, except maybe a local guy with a tractor plowing the land. It was just me and my mosquito friends.
Fortunately, Vercelli is a beautiful and charming city, and the first thing was to take comfort in a beer with an aperitivo after the frustration I experienced from the mosquitoes.
I was sitting in the main square of Vercelli where the heart of the city was in the medieval period. In the center of the square, there is a statue, from the 19th century, of Count Camilo Cavour of the Unifiers of Italy.
I have to mention something personal. Before I started the Via Francigena, I knew that in a walk of over 1000 kilometers, there would be sections that I like less or stages that are more boring, and this makes sense, so I knew that this week was going to be like this.
I wasn't upset by this fact. I just coordinated my expectations with myself and knew what I was in for.
More accommodation in Vercelli
Distance: 32.7 km
Time: 7.5 hours
A direct continuation of the previous day, more of the same, rice fields and mosquitoes.
If you are in the peak of the summer season, take a lot of water with you, you will need it like yesterday, there are not many places that provide shade along the way, and there are almost no fountains or water points to fill up on the way, except in towns.
Vercelli has a beautiful synagogue which unfortunately was closed when I was there, so I was impressed by the building from the outside.
Even today, I was alone in the infinite and unending plane.
When I arrived in Robbio, I made a slightly longer stop than I planned at a local bar. For me, These stops were an integral part of the journey. I met mostly locals on the Via Francigena.
Even if you don't speak the language, you can still communicate and experience authentic Italian culture which can be hard to find, for example, in Rome or Venice.
From this stage, the road signs improve considerably and are found in many places, whether it is in a large brown sign, or in all kinds of different drawings such as cute signs that indicate the distance to Rome and other destinations.
In addition, you can find a map of the section and more information and mentions of Via Francigena, something that has not been at this level until now.
Following my long stop in Rubio and another rest in Nicorvo, I arrived late in Mortara at sunset before it got dark.
In Mortara, I slept in a small and charming b&b with a kind hostess, Brigitte, a woman from Germany who hosts pilgrims with warmth and love and was waiting for me even when I arrived late.
I highly recommend staying at her place, and don't forget to send her a greeting from me :)
Distance: 20 km
Time: 4.5 hours
As in the last two days, nothing new under the sun. The rice fields and canals still dominate the landscape.
Again the same flat and empty road as yesterday, exactly the same. Today I experienced even more small annoying mosquitoes all along the way, and I'm traveling in October! In the summer, I imagine it's much worse.
I stopped for a coffee in the town of Romedo at a small, local bar and from there towards Garlasco.
Another day of me alone on the trail without meeting anyone. Be prepared to walk an entire day without meeting a single person on the trail.
A lot of days, you will be whole days like the last 3-4 days, where I didn't see anyone along the trail. It also has an advantage and something unique because when you are alone with yourself on the path, you get to know yourself even better.
In Garlasco, there is a house for pilgrims. I contacted the owner of the place before, and they sent me instructions on WhatsApp on how to take the key and enter the accommodation independently. It's amazing how much they trust the pilgrims!
I was also alone in this accommodation. I had the whole place to myself. I guess that in the summer, It's full of pilgrims.
More accommodation in Garlasco
Distance: 24.5 km
Time: 6 hours
That's it. The rice fields that accompanied us the last few days are ending, and the landscape is changing.
Before Pavia, we reach a large river, the Ticinon, which we will walk to until we reach the city.
Prepare your mosquito repellent because you will be walking by the river, and it is the perfect place for mosquitoes.
In Villanova d'Ardenghi, I stopped at a small local bar run by Mario.
Mario speaks English, and I got to talk with him about the area and the road. When traveling alone, especially in the absence of pilgrims, it's fun to find communication with the locals. It helps when they speak English because you can learn about the history, the place, and the culture, and that's what, in my mind, sets the Via Francigena or the Camino apart from other hikes.
At the end of the day, you will arrive in Pavia.
Pavia is a peaceful and rural small town. The University of Pavia (one of the oldest in Italy) combined with several scientific research institutions located there, make the city an academic center in Italy.
As a city full of students, Pavia is full of entertainment places, restaurants, and parties, and like other Italian cities - it is also full of bits of history. If you come at the weekend, the city is lively with street markets and performances.
Distance: 32.5 km
Time: 8 hours
First of all, if you didn't get to walk around the city the day before, I recommend getting up early in the morning and exploring the city a bit and getting an impression of it.
That's exactly what I did, I knew I had a long day, so I got up early in the morning and explored the city a bit before I started walking again.
No doubt, it's never fun to leave a big city because it's usually walking on a road. I left Pavia and walked mainly on asphalt about 8 kilometers to San Leonardo.
I sat in a bar in the small town of San Leonardo where I met 2 local young women who speak English so I stayed there for about an hour and just talked to them about different things and beyond that, they helped me book a place for the night in Miradolo Terme by phone because, as in many cases, the person who manages the accommodation for pilgrims does not speak English so sometimes it's hard to communicate.
They spoke to them in Italian and booked a bed for me.
Beyond that, they started teaching me basic Italian and some curses in Italic that are specific to their region. Somehow you always meet strange and funny people along the way.
They even offered me to go to lunch with them at their expense. They were so kind but I couldn't because I had another 21 kilometers to walk. I didn't want to get to town too late, so unfortunately, I said goodbye to them.
I continued walking to Belgioioso, where you can admire its monumental neoclassical palace, but only from the outside.
From Belgioioso, I walked on the path just me and my shadow to Miradolo Terme.
When I arrived at the accommodation for the pilgrims, a small place run by a local woman, a surprise awaited me.
After many days of being completely alone and thinking I was the only pilgrim, I met 2 other pilgrims staying at the same place.
A French guy is doing a short stage of the Via Francigena, and Su is an Australian girl who started walking from England and intends to reach Rome. It was really nice to meet other pilgrims again.
Distance: 11.7 km
Time: 3 hours
A short and easy day but with walking mainly on asphalt and some unpleasant road sections. The landscape changes after you cross the Lambro River until you reach the rural town of Orio Lita.
I knew it was a short day, so I took my time in the morning drinking coffee at the nearby bar and started walking towards Orio Litta.
The path is still very similar to the last days, a flat walk in an open space. In the middle of the road, I stopped to admire the impressive castle located in Chignolo Po.
In Orio Litta, a large hostel for pilgrims awaits you, one of the largest and newest ones I've been to today.
Very spacious, with a fully equipped kitchen, and well maintained by the host who provided good information and warm hospitality.
In addition, the hostel has bicycles that you can take and move around with at no extra charge. It was great because I could bike around and explore the area differently.
I took the bike and rode about 2 kilometers to the nearby town. I stopped to drink a beer in front of a bunch of locals playing cards.
On the way back, I stopped at the supermarket to buy groceries for dinner.
If you have energy left after the walk, you should take the bike and wander around the area a bit.
Distance: 25.5 km
Time: 5 hours
Today you have 2 options that you can choose from.
Crossing Lake Po by boat made by Sigrico and many other pilgrims. This option is shorter and is 22 km.
The big disadvantage here is the cost of the cruise and what awaits you after the cruise, walking mainly on asphalt and some say the entrance to Piacenza is the worst of all via Francegina.
If you choose to take the ferry, you must call and book at least one day before.
You can also do this through the hostel at Orio Litta. They will take care of you and call for you.
In any case, this is the number you will have if you want to order the boat.
0523 771607 ferry boat - call at least one day before.
Do not take the boat and walk on the route suitable for bicycles.
It's about 5 kilometers longer but with fewer roads since the route runs along the stream. At the same time, even in this way, the entrance to Piacenza by the bridges is also terrible.
I chose the second option mainly because I wanted to avoid walking a lot on asphalt.
The walk on the bike path was very comfortable, and the entrance to Piacenza was relatively tolerable compared to the damn exit from it which I will write about.
When you arrive in Piacenza, you will discover a city full of monuments and many unique churches.
As befits a large city, there is a wide selection of places to stay.
More accommodation in Piacenza
Distance: 32 km
Time: 7.5 hours
Okay, this is the day I can say that I liked the least of all Via Francigena.
If you thought nothing could be worse than entering Piacenza, then I'm sorry to disappoint you.
Walking out from Piacenza is much worse and is one big, continuous nightmare. An hour and a half to two hours to leave the city. The traffic on the congested ss9 road is simply terrible.
I didn't start walking from Canterbury, but I can say that this is the worst part of Via Francigena.
This was one of the days I realized how different the Via Francigena was from the Camino de Santiago, at least in terms of conditions and paths.
I walked very fast to escape the city. As you move away from the city, you enter the countryside, where I felt at home, seeing farms, small country churches, and castles.
I have nothing more to add about this day. Walk safely and be careful of heavy traffic along the road.
At least the boring plain days are almost over.
When I arrived at Fiorenzuola d'Arda, I met again with Su, the Australian woman I had met a few days before.
More accommodation in Fiorenzuola d'Ardaֿ
Distance: 22 km
Time: 5 hours
I started the day with a lovely moment.
I got up in the morning and found an open bar, ordered a coffee and a croissant, and sat outside with my backpack, you can realize right away that I'm a pilgrim.
An older local woman saw her and asked me if I was walking the Via Francigena. I told her yes, and she was so excited to see me.
We managed to understand each other, we spoke half English and half Spanish. She told me about the route and the history of the road.
She went in to order herself a coffee and just paid for the coffee and croissant without me even noticing or asking. She told me that she appreciates those who walk the via Francigena and that it is an honor for her. I thanked her very much for that.
These kinds of little things make the heart feel good, and I'm glad I met this kind and warm-hearted woman.
After the morning coffee, I started to walk. Today, the walk is also flat but at least not like the nightmarish exit from Piacenza.
In fact, today is the last day of the long and continuous plain that I walked on for the last week and a half. So I'm already excited for tomorrow.
Today we pass from the province of Piacenza to that of Parma between large cultivated areas, passing 2 monasteries on the way, Chiaravalle Della Colomba, with its Cistercian community, and Castione Marchesi.
Distance: 34 km
Time: 8.5 hours
A simply wonderful day! I'm in October, but the weather is sunny and perfect for walking.
I started the day with a fine Italian coffee.
That's it. The boring flat section is over. Today, I return again to the landscape that I love so much.
After Fidenza, the landscape really changes. You start to notice the green, the trees, the nature. After the terrible days of walking on a plain path full of mosquitoes, it is exciting to return to the mountains again.
The exit from Fidenza begins with a pleasant walk in the parks, and in areas where you can see the locals getting up in the morning and doing sports. From the first second of walking today, I felt so much better, like I came back to life.
Here I want to point out something. If I look back, probably the last week is the most boring, frustrating, and uninteresting section in the entire route of my Via Francigena.
True, everything can't be perfect, but for those who don't have enough time to walk the whole way and want to choose a section, I would skip the walk from Santhia to Fidenza.
In retrospect, I would walk this stage again because it is part of a pilgrimage path. I would not give it up, but yes, at least you should know what to expect. For me personally, it is important to make this information accessible and to be honest with you.
Of course, all this is just my personal opinion.
After the pleasant walk from the town, you start going up and down in a stunning rural environment, through vineyards, farms, churches, and small forests.
The route is rich in natural features and winds between valleys and hill range with laborious soil dotted with farmhouses. We pass the impressive century-old part of Costamezzana Castle and arrive at the foot of the Apennines close to the Romanesque parish church of Fornovo.
Maybe because I missed the open spaces and this view, I just enjoyed every moment of the day.
It's a long day, so you better leave early morning!
I left early, but as always, I took full advantage of the day, especially the pleasant weather, and took many breaks.
As a result, I arrived at Fornovo at sunset, but at least I experienced a beautiful sunset.
I stayed at the parish church of Fornovo. Basic place but good enough for pilgrims.
More accommodation in Fornovo
Distance: 21 km
Time: 5.5 hours
Today we officially return to the mountains.
A difficult day with mostly sharp ascents and descents in the Apennine mountain range which provides a beautiful view.
The day begins on walking on asphalt but with a gorgeous view through 2 small towns with stone houses that will make you feel back in time, Bardone and Terenzo.
Today, for the first time in the Via Francigena, I saw a resting stop for pilgrims. Compared to the Camino de Santiago, where stopping points like this are common, here in Via Francigena, it was very nice to see and stop there.
In general, the more you walk south towards Tuscany, the more you feel belonging to the path. The infrastructure is better, and you feel more like a pilgrim. Although there is still a lot of work to do to become like the Camino de Santiago. On the other hand, this is part of the beauty of this route, it is not commercialized.
In any case, after the stop, the path continues uphill until you cross the ss62 road. From there, you can see a beautiful view of the mountain range.
Tip: When you get to the ss62 road, the path of the Via Francigena crosses the road and continues straight. I highly recommend taking a right when you get to the road because there is a bar and a cool motorcycle meeting point just a minute's walk off the track.
This is an excellent place to stop to rest after a tough climb, eat something small or drink and enjoy the spectacular view.
Pilgrims hardly come here because they may not be aware. After all, it is not on the route. I have met here mainly motorcyclists who stop here to rest because it is the ultimate area for riding between the mountains.
After drinking a beer in front of the beautiful view, I continued walking toward Cassio. From here, the route is lined with challenging ups and downs, and right before you reach Cassio, there is a steep ascent, but don't despair, it's just around the corner!
In the town itself, there are a total of 2 places. A bar is open from morning until evening, and next to it, an excellent Italian restaurant is open for dinner from 18:00 - 23:00.
Cassio is a small and nice place with the famous big pilgrim hostel. The rooms are comfortable, clean, the bathroom very good and the house is spacious.
Distance: 19 km
Time: 5 hours
The second day in the Apennines. Get ready for another challenging day like yesterday because the ascents continue, but with beautiful views.
Today we go up to a height of about 1000 meters. In fact, this is the second highest point on the via Francigena after crossing the great San Bernard.
The walk from Cassio starts on a path with a beautiful panoramic view, about 10 kilometers of ups and downs to Berceto.
I took advantage of the sunny and good weather. I put my backpack on the ground, sunbathed, and enjoyed the warm days of late October.
Since I was sitting right on the path, 4 new pilgrims passed me whom I had not seen until now, I waved goodbye to them and knew that I would surely meet them again and so it happened.
After the break, I continued to go to Berceto. I met the pilgrims I saw on the way, in the same bar. 4 Italian guys who live not far and only spend the weekend on the trail.
It is very worthwhile to make a stop in Berceto because there are no other places to stop until you reach the accommodation.
Today's final destination is not at Passo Della Cisa.
The accommodation Ostello Della Cisa is about 2 kilometers from the mountain pass. This is a big hostel in the middle of nowhere. There is no mobile reception there and nothing around. The hostel has a bar and a restaurant with a delicious local dinner. The people who run it are lovely.
20 euros for accommodation and another 20 euros for a satisfying dinner. As mentioned, there is nothing in the area, so if you don't want to pay for dinner, be prepared and buy food before that.
Personally, one of the most fun evenings I've had on the via Francigena. Since the place is literally in the middle of nowhere, there is a great atmosphere.
Su, the woman from Australia I knew, and the other 4 Italian pilgrims I met yesterday. We ate together, drank, and talked. It was a perfect evening with an atmosphere that made me grateful and appreciate the journey of the Via Francigena.
Ostello della Cisa - 20 Euros | 30 Beds | Telephone: +39 0525 264153 | +39 328 2114870 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.orgLocation:SS Cisa 89, 43042 Berceto PR, Italy
Distance: 19.5 km
Time: 4.5 hours
A very challenging day when we descend sharply in front of us the gorgeous panoramic view.
From the hostel, there is a walk of about 2 kilometers until you reach the Passo Della Cisa. There is a bar there where I stopped for a coffee. When we cross the Passo Della Cisa, we leave Emilia Romana and enter the legendary Tuscany!
From Passo Della Cisa, go up the stairs next to the old church on the left, and from there begins a steep and demanding descent about 8km to Groppoli, so prepare your knees.
Pay attention to the route markings! I walked in the fall, and the leaves covered the entire path. The waymarks are clear and marked on the trees, follow them because you can get confused and get lost easily in the forest.
If it's raining, go down carefully because the stones can be very slippery which makes the descent even more difficult.
As you pass through the forest, a panoramic view opens up. The walk is simply beautiful along the mountain range with a gorgeous view. From there, the walk continues downhill until Groppoli.
Nothing better than relaxing in a beautiful spot with a mountain view and lots of greenery around.
Groppoli has no essential services or bar/cafe to stop.
About a kilometer from Groppoli, there is an oasis, a resting place for pilgrims who walk the Via Francingana with a place to sit and rest, to fill up with water and even beer and sweet drinks with a box where you can put money. It's a beautiful place worth stopping by because there aren't many stopping places on the way.
After the rest stop, there is again an ascent of about 300 meters.
The path goes through a thick forest until you reach Passo Della Crocetta, with a beautiful viewpoint. Of course, every ascent has a descent, so we descend all the way until we reach Pontremoli and end this tough day.
It was one of the challenging days for me mainly because of the sharp descents. Walking poles will help you a lot in this stage.
As I got to Pontremoli, I ended the day with a cold beer while I waited for my friend.
In Pontremoli, my friend Fernando joined me. We met exactly a year ago in Zubiri on the Camino Frances, and we continued until Santiago and became close friends.
That's the beauty of the Camino, you make friends for life. It's not a cliché. That's what happened to me.
I stayed at Convento Frati Cappuccini. A huge place and an excellent choice to sleep in Pontremoli like a real pilgrim but with all the comforts. Excellent welcome, spacious rooms with bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen.
More accommodations in Pontremoli
Distance: 16.5 km
Time: 4 hours
Basically, today the stage should end at Aulla. The weather changed and became cloudy and gray.
We started walking in the morning on a comfortable path until we reached Ponticello, an old town of stone houses with a special feeling, I don't know if it's because of Halloween (probably yes) but in certain corners, we saw scary creepy dolls and all kinds of different and hidden accessories that added to the already mysterious atmosphere that this small town has.
After the town, the path passes through a beautiful forest with a comfortable path until you reach Filattiera, another beautiful town that resembles the previous one, although a little less creepy.
From there, we went up and down the forest until we reached Filetto. A town that captured my heart, something magical about it, or at least that was my feeling.
When we arrived at Filetto, we sat down to drink coffee, and it started to rain very hard without a break, so we stayed a little longer. When we saw that the rain didn't stop, we called the pilgrim accommodation at Aulla and found out that it was closed in November. We made a spontaneous decision to stay here at Filleto.
We found Gredo B&B with a cozy room with charming owners for 25 euros per person and stayed in this little town. A very nice room, worth the money, in a small and beautiful town, just like a feeling of the Middle Ages.
Distance: 34.5 km
Time: 8.5 hours
Since we stayed overnight at Filleto, we knew we would have a very long with many ups and downs until Sarzana.
The walk to Aulla on a beautiful path that goes through a forest with ancient stone bridges from the Middle Ages and like yesterday passes through small and charming towns, Fornoli is one of them. I don't know if it's a town, more like a cluster of some ancient stone houses that give a feeling of going back in time.
When we got to Aulla, we made a rest stop because we knew we had another 17 tough kilometers with a lot of climbs.
After Aulla, we leave Tuscany and enter Liguria (but only for one day and return the next day). The walk to Sarzana is not easy. Although we are not in the Alps or the Apennines that we were a few days ago, this route will make you sweat.
The path goes through the forest until you reach Ponzano Superiore.
A small town with a beautiful panoramic view. There is a small local bar there that is worth stopping by. Give your knees a rest before going down to Sarzana.
We stopped to drink a beer there and enjoy the peace and pastoral of the place.
From Ponzano Superiore, you start to descend in height by walking for about an hour and a half to two hours and reach Sarzana.
Sarzana has an impressive fortress from around the late 1400s, with a prison, a dark dungeon, and rooms redecorated with period furniture.
For those interested, from Sarzana you can take a train and arrive in half an hour to la Spezia and from there to Cinque Terre, one of the most visited and famous places in Italy.
I knew someone who did this, left the trail for two or three days, and then came back. I did not do this because I had already visited there, but it's an option.
We stayed at Parrocchia del Carmine. A big room without any kind of privacy. The caretaker not really polite. Bad experience and non-existent value for money. about 10 beds for women and men, with a blind bathroom, without ventilation and with internal light that reverberates in the adjacent dormitory at night.
All in all, for pilgrims it's not such a terrible place, but compared to other places I've stayed and paid the same price, this place is less worth it, but for one night it's fine.
More accommodation in Sarzana
Distance: 16.7 km
Time: 4 hours
I changed the plans today as well.
Again, there was no cheap place to stay in Massa because the place for pilgrims was closed, but I found an open one that accepts pilgrims in Avenza, where I ended the day.
In retrospect, it was the right decision because, in my opinion, Avenza is much more sympathetic than Massa.
At the exit from Sarzana, there is a small ascent from where a beautiful pastoral landscape can be seen, similar to yesterday.
The path then continues with an easy walk to Colombiera-Molicciara. We took a break, taking our time because we knew we had a short day today.
I like the fact that as long as I'm not pressed for time, I can experience these small places and the stops along the way because I know that I probably wouldn't have heard of them or come to them.
After the town, we return to Tuscany by an easy walk to Avenza.
Tip: Don't stick one by one to the itinerary offered on the official website or in the book. Flow with it, split the segments if you find it difficult, or extend it.
Feel your body, if you've had a long and hard day, it's okay to walk less the next day. Do what your body and soul feel, especially if it is a journey of more than 1000 kilometers.
When we arrived at the church in Avenza, a very kind man named Francesco welcomed us. We stayed Infront of the church, a very well-maintained room with hot and new shower.
It occupies two ground floors of two adjoining buildings in the church square, and the give you a key.
He recommended a cheap local bar for dinner run by an older Italian couple who are Batistuta fans (you can see his photos on the wall). A simple and basic place but very tasty and homely.
A must for pilgrims like us! We also went back to it to drink coffee in the morning.
More accommodations in Avenza
Distance: 28 km
Time: 7 hours
I woke up to a beautiful sunny day and started walking like every day. Today is exactly one month since I started walking the Via Frangicana, and this routine is becoming part of the daily routine of this wonderful journey.
When you leave Avenza, you walk a bit uphill to the mountains. A challenging climb awaits us, but with a gorgeous view!
The highlight of the day for me was seeing the sea, feeling the cool breeze on my face while walking, and admiring the beautiful view. The part between Avenza and Massa is impressive and beautiful, even though the walking is mostly on asphalt.
Like out of a movie, there is a bench at the best point on the view where you can rest after the ascent and enjoy the moment. A genius who put this bench!
From there, continue in a downward trend until you reach Massa.
We made a short stop and continued walking, walking mainly on asphalt. After the town of Montignoso, you climb again on a road so it's a moderate climb and not particularly difficult.
Halfway after the ascent, there is a restaurant, La Fortezza Da Piè, in a perfect location, right in front of the view of the sea.
I highly recommend you to stop there, the restaurant is expensive but you don't have to eat there, we drank beer and enjoyed the warm weather and the beautiful view.
After the well-timed rest stop, we descend in altitude and continue walking mainly through populated areas and again on asphalt towards today's final destination, Pietrasanta.
Pietrasanta is a charming and beautiful town. It was Saturday, so the atmosphere was young and lively.
We stayed at Casa Diocesana La Rocca, and 2 cute sisters from Indonesia who volunteer there welcomed us warmly. Simple, clean, and central. Well taken care of by the nuns of the convent. A small and charming place right on the main square.
The nurses even asked us if we were hungry, and they served us excellent pasta they had prepared and did not want to take money for it. It was very generous of them.
We met a couple of other pilgrims walking the Via Francigena with their dog. They explained to me that in Italy, it is easier to walk with a dog because they accept it in most places because Italy is very open to dogs, and there is more awareness.
More accommodation in Pietrasanta
Distance: 18.5 km
Time: 4.5 hours
I woke up to another beautiful sunny day in November. The hike begins with a fairly easy walk of about 9 kilometers to Camaiore.
From there, there is a walk on the asphalt, where you can see Montemagno in front.
The ascent is short but quite tough. There is a cute bar, Mangia&Bevi Bike cafè. We stopped to drink there and rest.
From this town, it is about 4.5 kilometers until you reach Valpromaro.
Valpromaro is a pretty small town with a lovely local bar, good and kind people, and a different feeling to being far from a big city and change atmosphere.
There is one notable advantage, and that is the home of the pilgrims.
An accommodation that every pilgrim should stay at, one of the best places to stay on the Via Francigena.
I recommend to anyone walking on via Francigena to stay here. This is perhaps the coziest place I've ever been, with a feeling of home for everything.
The place is very well thought out and specially adapted for pilgrims. It has a huge kitchen, ingredients such as pasta, pasta sauce, fruit, and everything you need to prepare breakfast.
There is a large living room with a fireplace. At the time I was there in November, it was cold so it was a perfect solution to heat the house.
As mentioned, because I was out of season, the house was quiet without any pilgrims. The owner of the place told me that in the summer, they hold large meals for all the pilgrims who stay there, so this is something that even gives a sense of home and belonging to the Via Francigena.
They do all this kindness voluntarily and do not take money from the pilgrims, except that they have a box where everyone can donate according to their ability.
Even if you don't stay here, I recommend stopping to refresh.
When we got to the house, it was closed. You can call them, and they will come and open the place for you.
Valpromaro is an opportunity to enjoy the best traditional hospitality!
Another advantage of staying in Valpromaro is that it shortens the way to Lucca the next day, which makes it possible to arrive in Lucca early and spend a whole day there because there is a lot to see in this beautiful city.
Casa del Pellegrino - Price by Donation | 35 Beds | Free Kitchen | Washer & Drayer Telephone: +39 0584 956028 E-mail: email@example.com Location: 55054 Valpromaro Province of Lucca, Italy
Distance: 15 km
Time: 3.5 hours
Today is a short day on purpose, so I will have time to see Lucca.
This stage, according to the book or the app, should be longer but as mentioned, I chose to split it and stay in Valpromaro to arrive in Lucca early so that I can visit and explore the city.
In retrospect, it was an excellent decision because I arrived in Lucca early as I wanted, and I slept in one of the best places in the House of the Pilgrims.
We start the day with a small climb and leave Valpromaro behind us with a beautiful view up to Piazzano. Then, we descend in height to the last part which is flat and goes through the Cerchio valley and takes us to Lucca.
Lucca offers us an ancient city full of temples, monasteries, and medieval palaces, with the unique square created on the Roman amphitheater, Guigny tower, Volto Santo in its cathedral, and the atmosphere of its streets and squares.
Lucca is a unique and beautiful city. It is good to be early enough to experience the city both during the day and night.
Soon I will publish part 3 of the route from Lucca to Rome, the most popular stage that goes through Tuscany.
If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer and help.
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