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The Story

The via Francigena is a route system, rather than a single way.  Seasonal conditions and other factors would determine the paths traditionally followed.  Little information was available in Spring 2004, but there is much more now.

Please note the distances are approximate, and are probably further (certainly felt like it!).  We took minor roads for preference, diverting from the "official" via Francigena and adding to the distances.  We would also take the higher level roads where possible.

The times include finding accommodation each day, sometimes that could take an hour or so.
Date Section Km Time What we did
14-May Aosta na 10:00 We flew into Zurich and took a train from Zurich Airport to Aosta, via Zurich, Milan and Chivasso.
15-May Chatillon 24 8:00 Walked on the south side of the river on SR, rather than on the SS to the north.  Lots of ups and downs.
16-May Pont St Martin 28 10:15 Some waymarked footpaths.  Aqueducts, roman roads.  Hotel Ponte Romano was the only hotel open on Sunday.
17-May Ivera 22 8:00 Nice path through the forest.  High level medieval path from castle to castle.  Excellent walk.  Could not find a restaurant in Ivrea so picnicked.
18-May Santhia 27 8:30 All SS road walking via Lake di Viverone.  Terrible.  Off SS possible, but much longer.  Hotel a few klms out of town.
19-May Vercelli 25 7:00 Minor roads.  Out of the Valley and now flat country.  Rice paddies.
20-May Mortara 31 9:00 Met the author of a book on the VF in this region in Robbio.  He showed us a way across the fields and along the railway line.
21-May Pavia 42 12:00 Very long day.  Last 10 klms diverted off the road to follow a path along the river.  Very pretty, but made the day longer.
22-May Piacenza 15 10:00 To avoid the SS, we took a train to Orio Litta, then walked to Corte San Andrea.  Took the river taxi to Calendasco, and walked to Piacenza.
23-May Fiorenzuola 0 00:15 Avoided the SS by taking the train.  15 minutes train or 9 hours walking.   Rest day.  Medieval country fair at Fiorenzuola.
24-May Fidenza 17 6:30 Followed the alternate way shown in L'Eredita.  Tourist office very eager.  Pilgrim friendly library.
25-May Fornovo 32 10:00 L'Eredita.  Minor roads in the morning.  Nice variant in the afternoon through the fields on tractor tracks.
26-May Berceto 30 11:30 Climbed.  Way marked paths, but got very lost which took an extra hour.  Saw our first other pilgrim (Norwegian).  Berceto very medieval.
27-May Pontremoli 25 8:00 Off road, waymarked paths to the Cisa Pass.  Descended on minor road via Gravagna village.  Roman bridge across stream.  Pontremoli beautiful.
28-May Sarzana 9 3:00 Walked minor road west of river to Villafranca, then by bus to Sarzana, avoiding SS.  There is a  path waymarked by CAI, but could not find it.
29-May Camaiori 24 7:00 Train to Massa, avoiding the sprawling  Carrara.  (Path marked by CAI?)  Pietrasanta to Camaiore on original paved VF and along a canal.
30-May Lucca 26 7:30 Hilly, forest.  Olive trees, grapes.  Lovely walk.  Followed the river into Lucca.  Large medieval town.  Touristy, but nice.
31-May Castelfiorentino 15 7:30 Dreadful walk out of Lucca - very noisy & busy road.  After 15 klms and 3.5 hours to Altipascio took the train to Castelfiorentino.
01-Jun Gambassi Terme 19 6:00 Followed booklet La via Francigena in Valdesa for the next 4 days. Footpath, waist high wet grass, muddy. 
02-Jun San Gimignano 13 4:00 Got lost for an hour.  Towers of San Gimignano visible for many kilometres.  Dreadfully over touristed.
03-Jun Gracciano 19 7:00 No hotels in Gracciano so bus to Colle di Val d'Elsa.  Lovely ridge top town, quieter and more relaxed than San Gimignano.
04-Jun Siena 18 6:00 Took a bus from San Martino to avoid chaos into Siena.  Siena must be one of the world's great cities!
05-Jun Buonconvento 20 6:30 Bus to Isola d'Abria from where the minor roads/paths are waymarked.  Got a bit lost for a while, but very attractive walking.
06-Jun San Quirico D'Orcia 16 4:30 Bought an excellent map by Kompass to follow minor roads, paths and bike trails for the next few days.  Beautiful days, world's best walking.
07-Jun Abbadia San Salvatore 27 9:30 Took the highest path, from 300 metres to 1100 and back down to 800.  Alternative routing via Radicofani looked better.
08-Jun Acquapendente 28 9:30 Via Piancastagnalo and Ponte a Rigo.  Some SS, but not too bad.  From Ponte Gregoriano shown in L'Eredita.
09-Jun Bolsena 22 5:15 Via San Lorenzo Nuovo - unusual octagonal town place.  Bolsena the best medieval town yet - a real surprise.  Nice walking off road.
10-Jun Montefiascone 16 6:00 Waymarked off road track, but got lost in the Bosco and ended up back on the SS.  Montefiascone is the home of the EST! EST!! EST!!! wine. 
11-Jun Viterbo 18 6:45 Fantastic roman road on route to Viterbo - still in use.  Stayed in the Quartiere San Pelligrino - original, preserved medieval section.
12-Jun Sutri 30 8:00 Climbed up to San Martino, then via the crater Lake di Vico national park - forest, shady and cool.  Waymarked off road from Capranica.  Sutri great.
13-Jun Campagnano 22 4:45 Off road to Monterosi, waymarked.  Then on some major SS, but there is a "breakdown lane" - OK, but not really recommended.
14-Jun Roma 15 5:30 Walked on the road to La Storta.  Possible off road walking via Parco di Veio?  (Tourist office has maps, but closed in the pm).  Took a train from La Storta to San Pietro - the truly dedicated could try walking it.