Un viaggio attraverso storia, gastronomia e ospitalità: la meraviglia di attraversare la Francigena pugliese in bicicletta.
To prepare in the best possible way for your bike trip along the Via Francigena, we decided to gather all the useful tips and information available on our website in one single page, so as to provide you with everything you need to know to safely face the journey!
Today, most pilgrims choose to walk along the route. However, the Via Francigena is also enjoyable for cyclists. In general, in Italy, according to “Viaggiare con la bici 2023: 3° Rapporto sul cicloturismo“ (‘Travelling by bike 2023: 3rd Report on Cycle Tourism’), a report by Isnart for the Observatory on the Economy of Tourism of the Chambers of Commerce and promoted by Legambiente, foreign and native bike travelers in 2022 were more than 9 million, with an average age between 28 and 57 years old, 22% interested in travelling to more naturalistic than cultural places, although many are also interested in discovering specific territories and their food and wine specialties.
GPX tracks are available for the Via Francigena in Switzerland and in Italy until Rome. Unfortunately there is no official cycling route available yet for the stretch in England and France, as well as for the Via Francigena in Southern Italy from Rome to Santa Maria di Leuca.
If you are planning to cycle the Via Francigena in France and are looking for a reliable itinerary, we recommend to check out this unofficial route from Calais to Besancon tracked by Sandy Brown, author of the Cicerone guidebook series.
Stages of the Via Francigena cycling route are on average 50 kilometers long. Of course it is possible to increase or decrease the length of each stage depending on your personal level of training and preparation. Cyclists are not limited by the presence of pilgrim accommodation, as they can more easily add 5 or 10 kilometers to their itinerary in order to reach their lodging.
There is a guidebook available for the Via Francigena by bicycle from the Great St. Bernard Pass to Rome, but unfortunately for now it’s only in Italian. You can find the guidebook by clicking here.
Both experienced and beginner cyclists looking for the most suitable section along the Via Francigena will be able to find the perfect formula to satisfy their needs and tastes: some may want to immerge in nature between the mountains of the Aosta Valley and the lower hills of the Po Valley, some may be keen to discover the historical mysteries and traditional flavors in the rural areas and ancient villages of Tuscany and Lazio.
Below you can find some itinerary suggestions and advice on where to start your journey. In addition to our website, you can always check our social media channels, which involve a large community of pilgrims, to get ideas from those who have already experienced the route first-hand.
Some popular bike routes which are easy to reach are from Lecce to Santa Maria di Leuca in Puglia, from Aosta to Pavia, from Lucca or Viterbo to Rome, and the Terre di Siena tour from San Gimignano to Bagno Vignoni.
The Via Francigena by bike allows you to visit wonderful places, rich in history and natural beauty: from cathedrals and castles in well-known tourist destinations to small villages, across French and Tuscan vineyards and the most remote mountainous paths – enjoying the journey at your own pace, as our partner sloWays suggests. The travel philosophy of this partner, particularly for tours along the Via Francigena, has also been mentioned by National Geographic.
The cycling route in Italy is signposted every 300-500 meters with stickers and/or blue-white arrows with the words “CicloVia Francigena“. You may also find stickers with the pilgrim symbol surrounded by a bicycle wheel. Signposts are usually placed on poles and supports at crossroads, but since they are very practical yet easily removable and damaged, in some situations they are not sufficient, and aluminium signposts are also necessary.
The “CicloVia Francigena” is the result of a crowdfunding project carried out to trace the cycling route of the Via with the collaboration of EAVF, sloWays, the Slow Travel Network and Ciclica. Thanks to the fundraising, over a period of 3 months, between April and June 2016, it was possible to place around 6000 white and blue adhesive markers (similar to the white/red ones on the pedestrian route) along the cycling route from the Great St. Bernard Pass to Rome. The stickers were placed by Stefano Mazzotti, who travelled 1040 km of the Via Francigena with Franca, his faithful foldable bicycle.
The Via Francigena’s pedestrian route was also entirely mapped out by sloWays in 2014, which made maps and GPS tracks available on the official website.
However, like all common goods, maintaining the signposts of the “CicloVia Francigena” requires the cooperation of everyone: pilgrims, associations, organizations, and institutions. Through cooperation, damaged signposts can be repaired periodically or added where missing to facilitate the journey of cycling pilgrims. All those who would like to help can make a notification and will have visibility on the website www.viafrancigena.bike.
Along the Via Francigena, signposting represents a key element for the guidance of pilgrims in all four countries crossed. Therefore, EAVF is in constant contact with local administrations and entities to monitor the state of the route, making sure that paths are clean, accessible and well-signposted, especially at the crossroads.
In Italy, there are several associations that are responsible for the control and maintenance of signposting along the route, according to the guidelines of the EAVF Vademecum on the route – published in 2016 and updated every year.
In this sense, the Lazio Region represents a best practice: the collaboration between organizations guarantees the presence of signposting along the route in Lazio, in synergy with the EAVF, with which, in spring 2022, additional light signage was placed at more than 1,200 crossroads in white and red for the walking route and white and blue for the cycling route. Click here to read more.
The Via Francigena route crosses different countries with different climates. It goes from the almost 2500 m elevation of the Great St. Bernard Pass to the plains of the Po Valley; from the Cisa Pass in the Apennine mountains to the Tuscan hills.
In short, the best seasons to cover the entire itinerary are May and June or September and October. The hottest months should be avoided, especially in the Po Valley, where there is very little shade and the climate is sultry. However, if leaving in summer is the only option, it is always advisable to protect your head and use sunscreen several times a day, heading out very early in the morning, or even at dawn, to avoid the hottest hours.
It should also be borne in mind that the Great St. Bernard Pass is generally only open from the beginning of June until the beginning of September due to the large amount of snow that makes it inaccessible for most of the year. The Cisa Pass can also be snowy during late autumn or early spring. Both stretches are quite demanding and require some training.
Compared to the pedestrian route, which favors unpaved roads, the bicycle route includes numerous paved secondary roads with little traffic and avoids rough dirt roads as much as possible. The route is about 70% asphalted and the dirt sections are mostly on gravel roads with a stable surface. When there are no alternatives, short sections are on roads with heavier traffic.
The cycling route is suitable for cyclists of all ages and with more or less experience travelling by bicycle. Most sections of the route however have considerable uphill stretches, therefore a minimum of training beforehand is advised. The two highest points of the Via Francigena, the Great St. Bernard Pass and the Cisa Pass, are some of the main challenges along the cycling route, but also the continuous ups and downs in Tuscany and Lazio should not be underestimated.
The English and French sections of the route on the other hand are mostly flat, as well as the Italian sections in Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna until Fornovo; along the Via Francigena in Southern Italy, some good flat sections can be found in Puglia.
If you are travelling the Via Francigena by e-bike you should pay extra attention to your necessity of having to recharge your battery during long stretches. Not always will you find places along the road where you can recharge your battery, so we recommend planning ahead of time if you want to cover longer stretches in one day.
Water fountains and refreshment points are frequent in some stages, rare or even absent in others. You should always carefully assess the availability of water and take it into account by filling water bottles appropriately. During an average stage in the middle of summer, it is good practice to drink at least two liters of water, possibly supplemented with mineral salts, to reduce the risk of heatstroke.
But fear not! Most of the towns crossed by the Via Francigena have bars or shops selling food and drinks. Their presence is indicated in the description of each stage.
Pilgrim accommodation facilities generally give priority to travelers who present the pilgrim’s credential. It is therefore advisable to purchase the credential before setting off, do some search in advance about the availability of bed space, for example by booking at least one day in advance, and to inquire about the presence on site of a safe place to park the bicycle for the night.
In some areas, special rest stops for cyclists (“Bicigrill“) have been set up, such as at San Michele in Val di Susa and at Ciampino. Here you can get help in repairing your bicycle and also rent mountain bikes to explore the area.
No worries: one way of transporting your bike is on the buses of our partner FlixBus. The company offers pilgrims special discounts to get to their starting point by bus, to move between different stages of the Via or to return home once the walk is over together with your bike, upon presenting your credential. Note that bicycles must have a maximum weight of 20 kg and the modes of transport differ depending on the countries of transit. Find out more about our partnership with FlixBus by clicking here.
Due to the services offered by railway companies, carrying bicycles on board is not permitted on Italian Intercity Notte and Freccia trains (and on some Intercity trains), unless the bicycle is dismounted. It is therefore better to opt for an Italian regional train, checking that it is enabled for this type of transport. Click here for more information on the agreement with Trenitalia and Trenord. In France, regardless of which train you take, as long as there are enough available seats, the bicycle can be placed in a case (120 * 90 cm max.) and accepted on board if it is foldable or detachable. The bicycle is stored in a dedicated area that can be identified through appropriate signs after booking.
Due to the characteristics of the route, the use of a hybrid bike, a mountain bike, or gravel bike is recommended, equipped with proper lighting and reflectors, as recommended by the Highway Code.
Two rear panniers and a handlebar case for your luggage are usually sufficient (if you are bikepacking, your setup will be slightly different), as no tent, cooking equipment or sleeping bag are required if you sleep in (pilgrim) accommodations. Padded shorts for the saddle, technical T-shirts, a rain jacket with reflective bands and a change of clothes for the evening are essential. And don’t forget a full repair set in the unfortunate event of a puncture!
Special attention should go to another very important piece of equipment: a reliable lock to secure your bike when you’re leaving it out of sight, for example while food shopping at the local supermarket. Make sure to attach your bike to a fixed object such as a lamp post, and to fix both the frame as well as at least one wheel to the chain.
It is also useful to wear suitable footwear such as the shoes prepared by Garmont, partner of the Via Francigena: the new 9.81 HI-RIDE model is a hybrid shoe, rigid and structured for cycling, at the same time comfortable and flexible when you leave the bike and continue on foot.
Smartphones and tablets are now multifunctional devices that allow you to view your position on maps via GPX tracks. In this regard, it is a good idea to make use of Apps designed for the outdoor experience, such as AllTrails. AllTrails is partner of the Via Francigena and their App allows you to consult maps, even offline, in more than 100 countries around the world. You will also be alerted in the event of deviations from the route during your trip and will obtain information both on the status of path and on points of interest such as characteristic towns or villages to visit along the way. You can also share the experience with an international community through the publication of photos and reviews.
Another option of course is to download the official Via Francigena app, which contains all cycling stages of the Via Francigena in Switzerland and in Italy from the Great St. Bernard Pass to Rome, as well as information on accommodations and points of interest.
In addition, smartphones and tablets allow you to read the guide, a novel at the hostel in the evening, take photos and videos, read mail, surf the Internet and call home, as well as watch TV, read the newspaper, listen to music… all inside a few grams of weight on the bike!
The Via Francigena is often a springboard for initiatives to promote the territory and sustainability as well as charitable activities. Hence, over the years there has been no lack of solidarity events such, with the participation of local authorities, associations, trade organizations and companies as well as all cycling enthusiasts. Discover, for example, the Cycle 2 Recycle, Pellegrina Bike Marathon, Adesso Pedala, FIAB Italia, Eurovelo5, CorreVoce and Bicistaffetta projects.
Cycling the Via Francigena is certainly demanding, but it is also a time for reflection, for deep dialogue with yourself and with those who accompany you if in a group. It can be a daily challenge made up of unexpected events, pleasant discoveries, and an opportunity for new encounters. We have many witnesses and stories both from EAVF members and pilgrims who have tried their hand at cycling the route and who, thanks to this experience, have learned something new or unexpected about themselves and the world around them. Anyone wishing to start the Via Francigena route by bike can strengthen their motivation and draw inspiration from the stories of those who have already ventured on this beautiful journey.
Join our Facebook Community, where you can virtually meet with other Via Francigena pilgrims, ask questions, share experiences, and get prepared for your adventure on the road.
We provide a section dedicated to reports and notifications concerning the cycling route, so that everyone can contribute by sending observations and suggestions from their direct experience of the path.
Click here to make a report concerning the CicloVia Francigena.
Thank you very much and buon cammino… by bicycle!