The Way of St Francis

Via di Francesco: From Florence to Assisi and Rome

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8 Sep 2015
13 Jul 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm

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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.

Seasons Seasons
Spring, summer and fall. Winters are possible, too, except for higher elevations where snow is not uncommon.
Centres Centres
Florence, Camaldoli, Santuario della Verna, Cittá di Castello, Gubbio, Assisi, Spello, Spoleto, Cascata delle Marmore, Rieti, Rome.
Difficulty Difficulty
Some steep climbs and descents, but no special gear required. All walks are graded either "Easy", "Moderate", or "Hard".
Must See Must See
Renaissance 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.
8 Sep 2015
13 Jul 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm
  • Overview

    This guidebook to the Way of St Francis describes a 550km month-long pilgrim trail through the green heart of Italy. The route begins at Florence and goes through Assisi before its climax in Rome, exploring the mountains of Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio on the way. The route is split into 28 stages, each graded from 'easy' to 'hard'. Some stages include steep climbs and descents, but no special gear is required.
    Alongside a detailed route description, colour maps and accommodation information, the guidebook contains a concise biography of Francis of Assissi and stories of his life that relate to each location visited. Also included is a walking tour of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. This book is a trove of information that makes a perfect companion for anyone setting out to walk the Way of St Francis.
    The Way of St Francis is one of the most popular pilgrim routes in Italy, and it offers a great range of sights: olive groves, vineyards, Renaissance Florence, the Casentino National Forest, hilltop towns, ancient ruins, mountains, the Marmore Falls, the Vatican City and more.

  • Contents

    St Francis and the Way of St Francis
    Geography and climate
    Getting there
    Getting around
    When to go
    Eating in Italy
    Budgeting and cash
    Post, phones and internet
    Water fountains
    Planning and training
    What to take
    Maps, GPS and waymarking
    Using this guide
    Discovering Florence
    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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    Jan 2018

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  • Reviews
    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".

    The Tablet

    "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."

    Hannah, That Adventurer Blog

    "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

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    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!"

    Coralie, Tea Time in Wonderland

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Sandy Brown

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,

View Articles and Books by Sandy Brown (Rev)