350 km, or slightly more, from La Verna and the wooded hills of the Tuscany border to the lovely wide valley of Rieti in Lazio, through the most meaningful sites in the life of St Francis, up the hills and down the valleys of wonderful Umbria, the geographical heart of Italy, the ancient soul of this tiny nation in the middle of a sea that is embraced by Europe.
In the first Italian edition of the Guide “The Way of St. Francis” I recommended 15 stages in the walk. In the new guide in English another one has been added that breaks the route in two between Spoleto and Collescopoli, allowing wayfarers to stop and enjoy the special aura of an ancient Franciscan hermitage at Romita di Cesi.
the Cammino continues ...
In 2010 the same publishing house published the continuation of this walk, again conceived and written by Angela Seracchioli “Con le ali ai piedi” [With wings on the feet] (which is only in Italian for now).
The walk is continued, connecting the mountain of San Michele La Verna, where St. Francis received the stigmata (a place that is now known only for Francis’ presence) with Monte Sant'Angelo in Gargano, Puglia, which has been the main place of worship of the Archangel Michael in Europe ever since the 5th century, and which later gave rise to all the other European sanctuaries devoted to the Archangel: La Sacra di San Michele in Piedmont, Mont Saint Michel in Normandy in France, St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and many other minor ones. The Cave – The Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo is the place where Francis came as a pilgrim, following in the footsteps of other ancient pilgrims, who walked from place to place observing the cult of St Michael Archangel and then perhaps embarked for the Holy Land.
The continuation of the walk crosses a magnificent part of central Italy, Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia, passing through mountainous and hilly areas and towns rich in history and culture. We hope this guide will soon also be translated into English, thus completing the Way, which, in its totality, is 900 km long, with a total of 41 stages.
In just 9 years - the first Italian guide “Di qui passò Francesco” was published in May 2004 - the Way has become the equivalent in Italy of the Way of St. James and has been internationally recognised as such and pilgrims from all over the world have already walked it (since 2006 the Associazione degli Amici del Cammino [Association of Friends of the Way] has issued the Credential and, even though many more pilgrims than that have walked it, we know that to date, spring 2013, more than 11000 credentials have already been sent!). The guide in Italian is already in its fourth edition; since 2007 it has also existed in German with “Der Franziskusweg” by publishers Tyrolia of Innsbruck, already in its third edition, and now in April 2013 it is in English too.
The youngest pilgrim to have walked the Way from La Verna to Assisi was 4 years old, while an even younger one, pushed by his parents in his pushchair, was only 8 months old! The oldest, who completed it all by himself, was aged 80!
And, to date, 3 couples have decided to walk the Way in preparation for marriage, to then marry in Assisi.
One certainty inspires
those who work on this project and underpins all those who are responsible for it: this itinerary will become like the Santiago pilgrimage and today’s difficulties will soon become distant memories, like the “pioneering period” in Spain, remembered with nostalgia by those who walked a countryside that was less built-up, but offered more freshness and adventure.