THE VIA DI SAN FRANCESCO - WAY OF ROME: FROM LA VERNA TO CITTÀ DI CASTELLO 

a pilgrimage walking holiday of 7 days

 

Since medieval times there have been three famous Christian pilgrimage destinations: Jerusalem in the Holy Land, Santiago de Compostella in Spain, and Rome. The ‘Way of St. Francis'(Roman Way) is a section of a pilgrims' route to Rome, a European cultural path which starts in Vienna and ends in Rome, passing many places connected with the life of St. Francis. The route, which also carries the symbol of the keys of St. Peter, finishes in front of St. Peter’s tomb in Rome. Every year many pilgrims and trekkers from all over the world follow this path, passing hermitages, sanctuaries, ancient forests, olive groves and valleys rich in art and history. This walking route begins in Tuscany, at the La Verna monastery, where St. Francis received the signs of the stigmata (wounds of Christ). The route then crosses Umbria from north to south and finishes in Rome, in the region of Lazio. In Umbria, the native area of St. Francis, his presence is particularly strong and everything reminds us of the much-loved saint. A highlight of this tour is of course the lovely town of Assisi, where a section of the Via di Roma begins at the St. Francis tomb in the Basilica di San Francesco, one of the most celebrated sacred spots of Christianity. Assisi enjoys a splendid position on a hillside at the foot of Monte Subasio, overlooking the Valle Umbra and lying between the rivers Chiascio, Topino and Tescio. St. Francis (1181/82 – 1226) was born in Assisi and lived here for most of his life. It is certainly worth inserting an extra day in your itinerary to visit this fascinating town. Leaving Assisi you will walk through the wonderful countryside of Umbria, which St. Francis so loved, and you will pass through medieval towns and villages such as Spello, Foligno, Trevi, Spoleto and Arrone. You enter the region of Lazio and along the approach Rome the landscape becomes ever flatter, but not less exciting. On the last two days you will walk through Rome passing many monuments, which are worth visiting, but the highlight will certainly be the Basilica of St. Peter, the final destination of this walking tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

Programme in short:  

Day 1 arrival at Città di Castello 

Day 2 transfer by vehicle to la Verna and walking till Pieve Santo Stefano 

Day 3 Pieve Santo Stefano - Valico di Viamaggio- Montagna (transfer to Sansepolcro)

Day 4 Transfer by vehicle to Montagna and walking till Sansepolcro

Day 5 Sansepolco - Monterchi - Celle

Day 6 Celle- Città di Castello

Day 7 departure or continuing the Via di San Francesco

 

 

 

Programme

Day 1

Individual arrival at Città di Castello

Your hotel is in the old centre of Città di Castello, a town situated in the Upper Tiber Valley and surrounded by a green landscape of rolling hills. It is a town bubbling with life and an important economical centre of the valley. Worth visiting are the municipal museum -with works by painters such as Raphael, Luca Signorelli, Giovanni and Andrea della Robbia, Pomarancio and Ghirlandaio- and the two museums dedicated to the works of Alberto Burri.

 

Day 2

La Verna – Pieve Santo Stefano  

After breakfast you will be taken by vehicle to La Verna Abbey, built upon the mountain bearing the same name. At La Verna Saint Francis received the signs of the stigmata. Still remaining from this period are the small church Santa Maria degli Angeli and the cells of St. Francis and his companions. After your visit of the abbey you will start your first walk of this tour, climbing to the top of mount Calvano (1250 a.s.l.). From here you will have a magnificent view over the valley of Pieve Santo Stefano far below. You will then begin your descent to this town. Pieve Santo Stefano is a town of Etruscan origin, but we don’t know much about its past because in the 19th century all the documentation was lost in a flood. 

Distance: 16 km; Walking time: 4 ½ hours; Difficulty: medium; Ascent / descent: + 300m, - 970m

 

Day 3

Pieve Santo Stefano – Eremo di Cerbaiolo – Montagna

Today’ s walk is a ring-route taking in the hermitage  ‘eremo di Cerbaiolo’ and the pass ‘Valico di Viamaggio’. Leaving Pieve Santo Stefano the route climbs towards the hermitage. There is a saying that “whoever has visited La Verna and not Cerbaiolo has seen the mother but not the child”. Cerbaiolo is cradled against the mountain, surrounded by an oak wood. It was a dreary and abandoned place when Francis and his companions stayed here in 1216, but two years later the first Franciscan monks came to live here and restored the hermitage. In 1230 St. Antony of Padua also stayed for a period in Cerbaiolo. The route continues climbing to the Valico di Viamaggio.You will walk through woodland with occasional clearings, from which you can enjoy amazing views over the surrounding hills and mountains. After reaching the top of Mount Verde you will begin the long descent towards Montagna.

Distance: about 24,4 or 22,5 km; Walking time: 7 or 6 ½ hrs; Difficulty: medium - difficult; Ascent / descent: + 968m, - 746m

 

Day 4

Montagna Sansepolcro

After breakfast you will be taken by vehicle to Montagna, where you will rejoin the Via di S.Francesco.  You walk along dirt roads and trails. You descent towards the monastery of Montecasale, where was once a tavern for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. Francis stayed here several times and praised the silence of this place. After another 5 km downhill you will reach Sansepolcro, the birthplace of the painter Piero della Francesca, whose famous painting ‘The resurrection’ can be admired in the town’s museum. Also worthwhile visiting is the cathedral. You will stay in the centre of town.   

Distance: about 13 km; Walking time: 3 hours; Difficulty: easy; Ascent / descent: + 186m - 570m

 

Day 5

Sansepolcro-Monterchi - Celle

Today you have still time to visit Sansepolcro, Citerna and Monterchi. Leaving Sansepolcro you cross the fertile Tiber valley and after the hamlet of Bastia you enter the region of Umbria. The terrain becomes more hilly and the route climbs through the woods to the town gate of Citerna, a small medieval town, which is listed as one of the most beautiful villages (borghi) of Italy. Today’s walk finishes in Monterchi, where you can see another work of art by Piero della Francesca. After your visit of town there will be a last climb through olive groves till your farmhouse B&B with restaurant.

Distance: about 17,8 km; Walking time: 5 hours; Difficulty: medium; Ascent / descent: +460m -260m

 

Day 6

Celle – Città di Castello

After breakfast you will start the last stretch of this tour to Città di Castello. You walk through a hilly landscape with oak woods and fields. Just before arriving in Città di Castello you will pass the hermitage del Buon Riposo, built on the spot where St. Francis stayed in a cave during his journeys to La Verna. Now it is private property. The last stretch of descent will take you past Villa Montesca, where Maria Montessori taught teachers her education method, across the bridge over the Tiber and into the centre of Città di Castello. 

Distance: 15,1 km; Walking time: 4 hours ; Difficulty: medium ; Ascent / descent: + 475m -674m

 

Day 7

departure after breakfast or continue the Via di Roma  

 

 

 

 

 

The tour includes:

  • 6 nights in 3 and 4 star hotels with breakfast 

  • 1 diner in Celle

  • clients assistance 

  • luggage transportation

  • descriptions and maps in English 

  • tour information in English

  • all transfer mentioned in the programme

 

 

Period

every day from 1 April till beginning of November (the other months on request). 

Level 3/4

The daily itineraries pass through moderately mountainous country and hill terrain. On some days the amount of ascent and descent is quite considerable. Daily walking distances are between 15 and 28 km (with an average of 3 – 4 hours walking a day). This route requires a certain amount of experience and familiarity with mountain terrain. A good level of fitness for walking is necessary.

Price p.p. 2017

in double room     € 550,00

in single room      € 675,00

travelling alone    € 795,00

half board supplement (5 diners)  € 110,00

On request

extra nights, discount transporting your own luggage, tracks for gps (for free)

 

Are you interested in this tour: please ask us the detailed programme in pdf !

See also: Città di Castello-Assisi; Assisi - Spoleto; Spoleto - RietiRieti-Roma