Via Francigena


Inauguration of new hostels along the Tuscan-Emilian Via Francigena

For a pilgrim, hostels are more than just accommodations. They represent, in fact, a place of welcome and refreshment after the stages of the journey, but not only that: over time they have taken on a deeper meaning thanks to the stories of the wanderers that intertwine with those of their hosts, in an exchange of ideas and opinions.  

In addition, the opening of new hostels along the Via Francigena gives space for different opportunities and cooperation between local realities. Strictly speaking, it improves pilgrim reception and the services available accessible to all. Secondly, it allows the enhancement of each territory where the ancient path from Canterbury to Rome passes. All this with a view to the cultural, scenic, and economic enrichment of each individual place.  

For this, the Via Francigena hostels in the Tuscan-Emilian area that were recently inaugurated require special mention.

  • The Pilgrim Hostel in Camaiore, in the province of Lucca, is located inside the monastic complex of the Badia di San Pietro di Camaiore and has 24 beds divided into rooms for 4, 6 and 8 people. It represents a unicum in all of Versilia and is a model for new hostels throughout the Tuscan region. It is managed by the Società Coop Consortile Promozione Turistica Versilia, which organized the inauguration last September 9. An exhibition by artists Adolfo Saporetti, Pietro Paladini and Luciano Regattieri was set up for the occasion, and each pilgrim had the opportunity to discover Camaiore’s traditions and share travel memories.  
  • “Il pane e la rosa” (The Bread and the Rose) is the pilgrim’s home that was inaugurated in Montignoso in the province of Massa-Carrara last June 25. The hostel, which consists of eight beds, a kitchen and communal toilets, was reopened after many years thanks to the synergy between the Pilgrim Reception Association, the municipality and the parish of Santa Maria. In fact, “Il pane e la rosa” today represents a source of pride and socialization for citizens and pilgrims.  
  • Recently renovated hostels, on the other side, include the Hostel of Costamezzana, a hamlet in the municipality of Noceto in the province of Parma, and the Hostel of Felegara, in the Parma section near Medesano.  

The first one, formerly a school, following Jubilee investments in 2000 became an accommodation facility offering 22 beds and an elevator. It is open year-round and welcomes pilgrims, including those with disabilities.  

The second one was inaugurated last June and will be open to the public starting in 2024; it is the result of an urban redevelopment project and recovery of disused properties, aimed at having a second chance and offering services for pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena in Italy.  

This was made possible with the help of Por-Fesr regional funds and cooperation between the Municipality of Medesano, local businesses and the Diocese of Parma and Cariparma.  

Redesigning hostels and hospitality is much more than offering a place to sleep. There is a lot at stake, and it concerns the development of the paths and the future of the Via Francigena. 


International Walk 2023: a multicultural walk to discover Lazio

The International Walk (IW2023) returns to the route of the Via Francigena in the South, in the direction of Rome, between 19 September and 4 October 2023, organised by the Associazione Gruppo dei 12 and promoted by the DMO ‘Francigena Sud nel Lazio’, under the patronage of the Lazio Region and the European Association of Vie Francigene (AEVF).

The history of the International Walk

The initiative came about thanks to the ‘Pilgrims Crossing Borders‘ event, a 3000km relay race that in 2015 took 60 pilgrims from Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, the USA, the UK and Norway, through 15 countries in four months, from the city of Trondheim in Norway, via Rome, to Jerusalem, thanks to the work of Alberto Alberti, then President of the Associazione Gruppo dei 12 ODV, together with the German Via Romea Stadensis Association and the Italian Via Romea Germanica Association 

Then, as now, one of the main aims of the International Walk is to bring together people from different countries who, thanks to walking the walk together, can share an interest in and passion for all that characterises it, namely history, art, nature and spirituality, and which they can experience with every step along the VFS in Lazio.

International Walk 2023

For IW2023 (places were already sold out in autumn 2022) 22 pilgrims are expected to participate from: USA, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Spain, Denmark and Belgium, who on their arrival in Rome will receive the Testimonium in St Peter’s Basilica.  

During the walk, the pilgrim is involved through a tried and tested format:  

  • greetings to the group of pilgrims from the municipal administration 
  • a welcome with local food and wine specialities 
  • entertainment with musical and/or folklore events by local associations 
  • short guided tours of the countries’ main historical/cultural/spiritual points of interest. 

The programme of the event foresees several destinations: 


The itinerary consists of a travel experience in which the route continually changes between paths through hills and countryside, sandy beaches along the Tyrrhenian coast, and the shores of 4 lakes, until venturing into forests and no less than 6 nature reserves that characterise this area of the Mediterranean maquis. There will of course be no lack of opportunities to come across Roman temples, Cistercian abbeys, monasteries and hermitages, castles and Renaissance palaces that characterise the villages along the VFS in Lazio. Passing through these places also means attending unique local folklore events where you can cheer your moments of rest with ancient music and performances, as well as getting to know the customs and traditions of the communities. 

The two weeks that make up the journey will therefore be dense and full of meaning, since in addition to the sight of spectacular landscapes, marvellous views and other beauties of the Francigena South in Lazio, the focus is on the pleasure of meeting and sharing both fellow pilgrims and the people living in the places, which will be a precious memory for each pilgrim participating in IW2023, who will thus arrive in the corners of three different continents around the world. 

To follow the story of the journey:

For further information, please contact the following addresses:  



The Wine Roads along the Via Francigena in Piedmont

“A word to the wise (is enough)” it is said: being a connoisseur or a neophyte in the field of oenology makes no difference, because by now it is well known to everyone that Barolo and Barbaresco are among the best known wines in the world from Piedmont, an Italian region devoted to the production of red wines (but not only), including Sizzano produced between Novarese and Valsesia (today a DOC wine), which according to Camillo Benso Count of Cavour could well compete with the famous Burgundy.  

The wine cellars of Piedmont are all deeply tied to their territory and the centuries-old traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation among the families of producers throughout the region. However, there are wine routes that are even more peculiar because they are linked to the history of the Via Francigena route that connects Pont Saint Martin to Vercelli via Ivrea. If one of the first pieces of advice given to those embarking on the route was to stock up on water, in less recent times pilgrims preferred to quench their thirst with the ‘nectar’ of the vine, which was offered to them, since water resources could be polluted and therefore a source of disease.  

Among the sentiments of those who now travel the Francigena itinerary, there is certainly no lack of curiosity to explore the local wine taste, and in the Piedmont region there is ample choice, considering that there are two wine-growing areas intertwined with the route: the Canavese area and the Val Susa vineyards, two of the four areas included in the ‘Royal Road of Turin Wines‘, recognised as a production itinerary of wine excellence in 2009 and no less than 600 km long. 

settimo vittore
The Wine Trail in Canavese on the Via Francigena

The wine route in the Canavese region includes three interconnected itineraries, but only one runs along the ancient route of the Via Francigena, namely the one that north of Turin extends to Carema, at the gates of Valle d’Aosta. Carema became one of Italy‘s 200 Slow Food presidia in 2014, precisely because of the close link between the area and the wine from its vineyards, namely Nebbiolo. Produced by a social winery founded in 1960, it is characterised by a ‘morainic’ flavour, metaphorically speaking, since the form of Carema vine cultivation is the Canavese pergola, or locally ‘tòpia’, characterised by having the roots of the vines grow in the morainic soil supported by small walls and pillars made of river stone on steep terraces. The Canavese wine trail is in fact dominated by the moraine hill of the Serra d’Ivrea (25 km long, making it the largest in Europe), overlooked by the Alps and bordered by Lake Viverone.  

Very useful for orientation and advice from those who have had first-hand experience of the area is also the AllTrails app, where maps can be consulted and information and comments exchanged. The route lends itself well to a bicycle trip, but a suggestive suggestion would be to walk along the paths between the rows of vines to discover the path. Autumn and winter are the ideal seasons for discovering the oenological flavour of the Canavese, since in addition to the spectacle of colourful landscapes, it is possible to watch the grape harvest and the processing of the grapes for raisin wine. 

vigne lago viverone

An important stop on the journey, in this land littered with vines, is the town of Caluso where one can taste Erbaluce di Caluso or Caluso DOCG, the most characteristic white wine of the Canavese area, which in 2023 was nominated by the Piedmont Region as vine of the year. This wine comes from hillside vineyards and is produced in three different types: still, sparkling and passito, characterised by a minimum alcohol content of around 11-11.5%, and to be served chilled to accompany aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres, first courses and cheeses, dry desserts and amaretti biscuits respectively. 

Vineyards at ‘high altitude’ in the Susa Valley section of the route

The wineries in Val Susa are located on the two sides of the Upper Valley, Exilles and Giaglione/Chiomonte. The presence of a microclimate characterised by adequate exposure to the sun, sheltered from the effects of the cold north winds, has made it possible to cultivate vines at altitudes above 850 m, thus allowing ‘heroic viticulture‘, i.e. at unusual heights, with slopes between the rows of vines of up to 30%, where the vines grow between rocks and stone walls that store heat during the day and release it at night. 

Although this area has been characterised since pre-Roman times by the culture of producing and selling wine, the importance of which is testified to in the ‘Testament of Abbone‘ of 739, founder of the Abbey of Novalesa, it was thanks to the Via Francigena, which connects this side of the Alps to France, that the development of vine cultivation was stimulated, favouring the presence of the numerous inns and taverns scattered along the route that welcomed pilgrims by offering them exclusively local wine.

pellegrini e segnaletica

The wines from Val Susa are Baratuciat (an indigenous white grape variety and ampelographically mysterious, miraculously saved from disappearance and only entered into DOC Valsusa in 2019) and the reds Avanà and Becuet, DOC Val Susa since 1997. The ‘Vino del Ghiaccio’, eiswein or icewine, a passito also known as San Sebastiano, also originates in this area. It is produced at the highest altitudes using a procedure whereby the Avanà grapes are left to dry in the vineyard until the arrival of winter; then the bunches are harvested, strictly by hand, at night or at the crack of dawn, at a temperature of minus -8°. The crushed berries, still frozen, then generate a sugary must that exudes an aroma of wild berries; the wine is therefore excellent with cheeses and dry desserts. 

Visit Piedmont, ambassador of Piedmontese wine along the way 

The regional agency Visit Piemonte, set up to enhance the tourist offer and agri-food production in the Piedmont region, has created, with the collaboration of the Region, a pathway for the knowledge and dissemination, on a local scale, of wine production, using as testimonials the faces of 15 presidents of the Consorzi di Tutela dei vini di qualità certificati (D.O.C. and D.O.C.).  

This activity has thus stimulated in the public a greater knowledge and curiosity towards the excellence of Piedmontese wines and thus to learn the connection of these with the culture and history of the territory of reference, as well as their connection with the Francigena itinerary, whose imagery cannot but lead walkers and tourists in a circular sense to explore the route along natural paths of colours, but also of flavours.