The Way of St Francis
Via di Francesco: From Florence to Assisi and Rome
Guidebook to walking the Way of St Francis, Via di Francesco. 550km pilgrimage from Florence, through Assisi to Rome through Central Italy visiting key sites from the saint's life. Described in 28 stages, the guide to the month-long route includes detailed maps, profiles and information about all the shrines, churches and towns along the way.
SeasonsSpring, summer and fall. Winters are possible, too, except for higher elevations where snow is not uncommon.
CentresFlorence, Camaldoli, Santuario della Verna, Cittá di Castello, Gubbio, Assisi, Spello, Spoleto, Cascata delle Marmore, Rieti, Rome.
DifficultySome steep climbs and descents, but no special gear required. All walks are graded either "Easy", "Moderate", or "Hard".
Must SeeRenaissance Florence, the dark and lovely Casentino National Forest, the active hermitage of Camaldoli, St. Francis' beloved Santuario della Verna, historic Gubbio, beloved and beautiful Assisi, charming Spoleto, Marmore Falls. The walk is sprinkled with sacred sites from the life of St. Francis and culminates in the Eternal City of Rome.
This guidebook describes the Way of St Francis' 550km month-long pilgrimage trail from Florence through Assisi to Rome. Split into 28 day stages, the walk begins in Florence and finishes in the Vatican City. Stages range from 8km to 30km with plenty to see, including ancient ruins, picturesque towns, national treasures, and stunning churches. This comprehensive guidebook fits in a jacket pocket or rucksack, and contains information on everything from accommodation and transport in Italy, to securing your credential (pilgrim identity card), budgeting, what to take, and where to do laundry. Stories of Francis of Assisi's life are also included. Although the route includes climbs and descents of up to 1200m, no special equipment is required - although your hiking boots and socks definitely need to get along. Following the steps of heroes, conquerors and saints on this pilgrim trail is manageable all year round, but is best done from April to June and mid-August to October. Route maps are given for every stage, and basic Italian phrases are included in the guidebook.
St Francis and the Way of St Francis
Geography and climate
When to go
Eating in Italy
Budgeting and cash
Post, phones and internet
Planning and training
What to take
Maps, GPS and waymarking
Using this guide
1 Florence to Santuario della Verna
Stage 1 Florence to Pontassieve
Stage 2 Pontassieve to Passo della Consuma
Stage 3 Consuma to Stia
Stage 4 Stia to Camaldoli (village)
Stage 5 Camaldoli to Badia Prataglia
Stage 6 Badia Prataglia to Santuario della Verna
2 Santuario della Verna to Assisi
Stage 7 Santuario della Verna to Pieve Santo Stefano
Stage 8 Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro
Stage 9 Sansepolcro to Citerna
Stage 10 Citerna to Città di Castello
Stage 11 Città di Castello to Pietralunga
Stage 12 Pietralunga to Gubbio
Stage 13 Gubbio to Biscina
Stage 14 Biscina to Valfabbrica
Stage 15 Valfabbrica to Assisi
3 Assisi to Rieti
Stage 16 Assisi to Spello (easier route)
Stage 16A Assisi to Spello (harder route)
Stage 17 Spello to Trevi
Stage 18 Trevi to Spoleto
Stage 19 Spoleto to Ceselli
Stage 20 Ceselli to Arrone
Stage 21 Arrone to Piediluco
Stage 22 Piediluco to Poggio Bustone
Stage 23 Poggio Bustone to Rieti
4 Rieti to Rome
Stage 24 Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo
Stage 25 Poggio San Lorenzo to Ponticelli
Stage 26 Ponticelli to Monterotondo
Stage 27 Monterotondo to Monte Sacro
Stage 28 Monte Sacro to Vatican City
Tour of the Seven Pilgrimage Churches of Rome
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contacts
Appendix C Language tips
Appendix D Further reading
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A very useful guide book for anyone contemplating the St Francis Way.
The first section of the book is devoted to practical issues after a preamble about the history of the route. Advice is given about public transport, how to get a Pilgrim Certificate, best times to walk, what to carry, opening times of shops, restaurants and so forth, budget, itinerary and other useful information that is needed. The four appendices at the rear of the book give language tips, route overviews and other useful information. I can't think of anything useful that has been omitted.
I believe that Sandy Brown has written a very useful guide book for anyone contemplating the St Francis Way. There is a host of useful information, mapping and GPS provided that I think would enable a hiker to complete the route safely. The walk looks challenging and passes through beautiful areas of Central Italy. The weak part of the book for backpackers is the lack of information about camping but we do have the internet now to overcome that problem. Also, if a camp site couldn't be found en route I suspect a few nights in a B&B would be very welcome to most pilgrims.
Jon Ivins, Backpack magazine
"Guidebooks have been all but drowned by the rising tide of free digital content. But specialist guides written by cognoscenti and offering in depth, practical advice, flourish. Even in the age of GPS, pilgrims need help in staying on the straight and narrow. [This guide] steers the walking enthusiast some 345 miles... with excellent maps and detailed routes".
"Perhaps the easiest to follow guide and one of the most thorough guides I’ve come across for an adventure of this kind. If more guidebooks were so thoughfully put together and so easy to follow, it might just keep worries at bay and get more of us out there doing instead."
"What better way to honor St. Francis’ respect and compassion for nature - much-needed today - than to walk in his footsteps along the Via di Francesco, a 550-km route in central Italy, departing from Florence and ending at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, passing through the green heart of Italy, Umbria, and, most importantly, the places and paths touched and loved by Francis himself."
Read more of this article and an interview with the author at Italy Magazine
What makes the itinerary as suggested by Sandy Brown stand out is that it combines the most important sites identified with the life of St Francis into a 550-km long walk, while taking great care to make each of the 28 stages of this walk an enjoyable and scenic daily experience with easy access to services and economical overnight lodging.
A review from Slow Italy
The Way of Francis is a timely trekking guide to a pilgrimage route from Florence through Tuscany, Umbria and Assisi to Rome and its seven pilgrim churches. It specifies the dimensions, highlights and difficulties of each stage in a trip which covers 550 kilometers in 28 days. It pays particularly attention to all the places linked to St.Francis, such as Greccio where he made the first nativity crib and Assisi where he began his mission and where he lies. He came to Rome several times and his memory is preserved at the San Francesco a Ripa church in Trastevere where the cell he occupied can be visited. The American author, Sandy Brown, is an Methodist minister with a degree in mediaeval history. The Way of Francis is a detailed, practical guide well-supplied with maps, graphics and photos as well as historical and cultural ‘boxes’.
See more at: Italian Insider
"Your travel guide on St Francis' way was of great inspiration and I will be using it this summer. It really inspired me to do more hikes this year in the UK too. Can't wait to see which other surprises you have for us!"
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Sandy Brown (Rev)
Sanford 'Sandy' Brown is an activist, long-distance walker and ordained minister from Seattle, Washington. After reading 'The Pilgrimage', by Paolo Coelho, he planned his first trek on the Camino de Santiago and since then has walked over 3500 kilometres on pilgrim trails in Spain and Italy. He records his pilgrim adventures in his popular blog, www.caminoist.org.