The Via Francigena - a pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome
The Via Francigena ('the way through France') is a long-distance walk with a difference - a 1900km pilgrimage on foot from Canterbury to Rome. People have been making pilgrimages to Rome since the fourth century.
The latest Cicerone guidebook to arrive is Part 2 of The Via Francigena. Part 2 describes the pilgrim route from the Great St Bernard Pass all the way to Rome. Part 1 describes the route from Canterbury to the Great St Bernard Pass.
Early pilgrims from Britain usually went across to what is now Germany and then down the Rhine, but from about the eigth century onwards many of those who started in Canterbury, or passed through it on their way, would have taken much the same route as on the one described in the Cicerone guidebook.
Waymarking on the Via Francigena
In general the Via Francigena is well and clearly waymarked in Italy, although the style, design and colour of the signs varies quite a lot. Along much of the way is the red and white adhesive tape of the official route, marked with a black pilgrim silhouette to distinguish it from other long-distance footpaths.
In other places are the older markers with either a yellow or a brown and yellow pilgrim carrying a bundle on his back, as well as the yellow and white stickers.
Accommodation - Canterbury to the Great St Bernard Pass
There is hardly any dedicated pilgrim accommodation on the section from Canterbury to the Great St Bernard Pass. A tent is worth taking if you intend to camp regularly.
Accommodation - Great St Bernard Pass to Rome
There are different types of accommodation along the route, including campsites, youth hostels and hotels. The Italian Confraternita di San Jacopo runs three pilgrim refuges on the Via Francigena, in Radicofani, Abbadia Isola and in Rome itself.
Stamps for pilgrim passports
Pilgrims who seek to prove their pilgrimage carry pilgrim passports, or credentials which they have stamped at regular intervals along the way, and then present to the authorities in the sacristy in the Vatican when they arrive Rome. More information about pilgrim passport is available (to members only) from the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome.