The two capitals of pilgrimage in Italy are Assisi, home to St. Francis and St. Clare, and Rome, home to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul and a panoply of others. This itinerary on the Via di Francesco links Assisi to Rome in a green and beautiful walk of sixteen days through Umbria and Lazio and enters busy Rome along a scenic and quiet bicycle trail.
“What you are looking for is where you are looking from.” – St Francis of Assisi
“A pilgrimage is a significant journey, often to a sacred place, undertaken to find new perspective. This magnificent walk through medieval towns and ancient forests in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi offers a chance to reflect and learn from a man who nearly 800 years after his death is still inspiring us with his words and life. It is an opportunity to enjoy not only the nature, art and culture of this place but to step out of our conditioned lives and experience the world and ourselves anew. Through days filled with walking, fresh air, fellowship, good food, contemplative exercises and sharing, we rediscover how to live from our most authentic selves. Communing with yourself and a small group of pilgrims allows you space to rediscover your sense of joy, confidence, and clarity. – Laura Harris
Itinerary for Assisi to Rome:
Monday, May 6, 2024 – Gather, overnight in Assisi (optional tour).
The warm, pink stone of Assisi becomes orange as the sun sets across the Spoleto Valley. The preparations are complete. Have you planned to come early to enjoy this unforgettable town, beloved by St. Francis and his friend, St. Clare? We take our final rest before setting out in the morning.
Tuesday, May 7, 2024 – Assisi to Spello (17.6km/10.9miles, rated Average).
We take the high road to Monte Subasio, enjoying fantastic views over the Spoleto Valley before descending to charming Spello. Delightful Spello and its 37 medieval churches await us.
Wednesday, May 8, 2024 – Spello to Trevi (19.1km, 11.9miles, rated Easy).
Our first stop is Foligno, where Francis sold his father’s cloth to raise money for God’s purposes. We continue through Foligno to beautiful Trevi that sits high on a hilltop, its steeples pointing toward the heavens and its quiet streets welcoming our explorations.
Thursday, May 9, 2024 – Trevi to Spoleto (25-30km, rated Moderate).
Walk from the lovely town of Trevi along the mountainsides filled with convents and castles. Enjoy identifying herbs and watching ripening progress on the olives growing on these scenic hillsides above the vineyard covered Spoleto Valley. Transfer in the van or continue on foot to cosmopolitan Spoleto, home to the Due Mondi International Music Festival. We peek into the historic Duomo which houses an authentic, handwritten letter of St. Francis.
Friday, May 10, 2024 – Spoleto to Macenano (20.3km, 12.6miles, rated Challenging).
On our way up the hill we stop at the Franciscan Convent of Monteluco and soon afterward we gaze across the lofty gorge that begins our entry to the Nera River Valley. Our overnight is in a renovated 10-century monastery on the hillside above the Valnerina scenic area.
Saturday, May 11, 2024 – Macenano to Arrone (10.5km, 6.5miles, rated Easy).
We’re in no rush today either, and our short walk culminates in the charming village of Arrone, at the foot of some of the highest peaks of the Central Apennine range.
Sunday, May 12, 2024 – Arrone to Piediluco (14.5km, 9miles, rated Easy).
The only climb of the day is alongside the might Marmore Waterfalls. Built by the Romans, who diverted the course of the Velino River, Marmore’s waters now flow through hydroelectric turbines by night and over the falls by day. The shores of Lake Piediluco, where St. Francis preached, await us for an afternoon and overnight.
Monday, May 13, 2024 – Piediluco to Poggio Bustone (21.8km, 13.5miles, rated Challenging).
St Francis loved the mountains, and legend tells us that a beech tree sheltered him atop a mountain in a terrible storm. We visit that beech tree 800 years later before making our way down to rustic Poggio Bustone. In a cave above the town, Francis had two visions that would change the course of his life and the course of history.
Tuesday, May 14, 2024 – Poggio Bustone to Rieti (17.7km, 11miles, rated Average).
Midway through today’s forested walk is beautiful Cantalice, which, once it is discovered, will be widely recognized as one of the most lovely towns in Italy.
Wednesday, May 15, 2024 – Rieti Rest Day (Optional tour to Greccio and Fontecolombo).
Either rest for the day or visit St. Francis’ sanctuaries in the nearby towns (price depending on number). Rieti is worth a visit in its own right, with its fascinating underground Salt Road tour. Dinner is not included this evening, so you are free to explore the restaurants of this regional capital.
Thursday, May 16, 2024 – Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo (21.8km, 13.5miles, rated Average).
Cross a 1600 year old Roman bridge before coming to Poggio San Lorenzo, itself built on foundations laid by the Romans. This is Sabina, Italy’s most famous olive-growing region, and these small mountains separated by quiet creeks each shelter their own charming village and people.
Friday, May 17, 2024 – Poggio San Lorenzo to Ponticelli (23.2km, 14.4miles, rated Average).
Here shepherds guard their flocks, which feed among the olive groves on these steep hillsides. Ancient churches stand in testimony to centuries of faith by families whose names are long forgotten.
Saturday, May 18, 2024 – Ponticelli to Monterotondo (29km, 21miles, rated Moderately difficult due to length).
The mountains spread out as the terrain begins its transition to the flat plains of the Tiber Valley. Hints of urban life are kept away from us as we make our way through nature preserves and quiet farms. Walk the entire route or take the van from Montelibretti to shorten your day
Sunday, May 19, 2024 – Monterotondo to Monte Sacro (19.3km, 12miles, rated Average).
The Gattececa Nature Preserve is our morning, and by the afternoon we are on the streets of Rome’s suburbs. While we miss the quiet, the excitement of arriving as pilgrims in one of the world’s great cities is palpable.
Monday, May 20, 2024 – Monte Sacro to the Vatican (15.4km, 9.6miles, rated Average).
Even urban Rome has quiet bicycle paths, and we use them to take us deep into the heart of the city. Once there, we follow the pilgrims’ path, ending in our triumphal entry at the gates of the Vatican City. We’ve done it. We’ve walked the pilgrim path to Rome. It’s time to receive our testimonium that confirms our pilgrimage, and it’s time for a final toast with new best friends who’ve shared this journey of discovery, accomplishment and joy.
Tuesday, May 21, 2024 – Depart Rome.
Bella Roma. Bella Italia. With hearts full of joy we say goodbye and begin thinking about what great adventure awaits. Option: Tour of Rome and extra night in the Eternal City.)