giovedì 25 marzo 2010
The via Francigena
The Via Francigena is a historical itinerary leading to Rome from Canterbury, a major route which in the past was used by thousands of pilgrims on their way to Rome.This route bears witness to the importance of the practice of pilgrimage in medieval times; the pilgrim was to travel mostly on foot (for penitential reasons), covering about 20-25 Km a day,and was driven by a fundamentally devotional reason: the pilgrimage to the Holy Sites of Christianity.The road road is between Rome and Canterbury, passing through England, France, Switzerland and Italy.The Via Francigena was the major medieval pilgrimage route to Rome from the north; even today pilgrims travel this route, but in far fewer numbers than the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago).
The Via Francigena is not just an important pilgrimage route concerning a large area of Italy, but its discovery represents a unique opportunity to get in touch with the places it runs through: an extremely rich heritage of culture, art, history, lovely natural spots and warm hospitality.he Way of Saint James originated and was supported as a defensive bulwark against Islam; the Via Francigena was just one of the many routes leading to Rome or, at most, the converging path of many different trails and during past centuries was never supported by political will. Stretches of the ancient trail have remained intact: in Castellonchio, a few miles before Berceto and nearby the pass of Monte Bardone or in Galleno (Tuscany) or, further South in Capranica, near Viterbo; here you can still walk through age-old hazel groves linked to the memory of Charlemagne and chivalric literature or on the grass-overrun paving stones of the Roman Via Cassia, which is still in perfect conditions in Baccano, near Rome.
Today the Via Francigena enters Tuscany at the Cisa Pass in the area called Lunigiana north of Pontremoli and heads south toward Acquapendente in Latium passing through Lucca and Sienna. It is still possible to follow approximately the ancient road and to find refuge in most of the same villages mentioned by Sigeric. The route passes through four distinct geographical areas where the landscape, the building materials and the gastronomic traditions follow their own local traditions, occasionally still reflecting mediaeval influences.The first of these four areas begins at the Cisa Pass, the crossing point from the Region of Emilia Romagna into the Region of Tuscany, north of Pontremoli in the Appennine mountains, and follows the valley of the Magra river down to Aulla and Sarzana. This area is called Lunigiana, after the Roman port city of Luni.This area is characterised by castles, walled mediaeval villages and isolated monasteries, constructed primarily of the gray limestone found locally.The second area begins at Sarzana and goes past Lucca to Altopascio. The principal characteristic of this sector is that the road hugs the foot of the Appuan alps and stays inland from the sea coast. The main towns one sees are Sarzana, Carrara, Massa and Pietrasanta, all in the marble working area, and Camaiore which is the only village mentioned by Sigeric after Luni.The third sector is the longest segment of the Francigena and runs from Altopascio, down to Fucecchio, and on to Sienna passing through Castelfiorentino, Certaldo, Poggibonsi, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni before it arrives in Sienna. The fourth sector begins in Sienna and goes south to Abbadia San Salvatore.From Sienna south, the Via Francigena closely follows the Via Cassia, another of the old roman roads. Visits to Isola d'Arbia, Buonconvento, Montalcino, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and San Quirico d'Orcia are all worthwhile. However the last two stops of Sigeric, Bagno Vignoni and Abbadia San Salvatore, are the most spectacular. Bagno Vignoni is where for centuries people have gone for health cures because the sulphur water baths.
When you walk through Tuscany, why don't stop for some days in Florence? At Hotel Mario's you could enjoy some rest days and visit the city from a spectacular position.
We are waiting for all of you pilgrims and walkers.