What better way to start your journey on the Via Francigena – on the footsteps of archbishop Sigerico – than to have as starting point of the travel the exact Episcopal location of the faraway British Isles, from which the most celebrated pilgrim left in 990.
Take some time to visit the Cathedral, an amazing masterpiece of gothic art, which was built a few centuries after Sigerico came back safe and sound to his domicile, fresh from the long and strenuous journey to the capital of Christianity. On such return he left us the list of 79 stages, described as accurately as possible, of the modern path you are going to take.
Next to the south porch of the Canterbury Cathedral there is the stone that indicates the starting point (kilometer zero) of the itinerary. The first steps will lead you to the Christchurch door and then to St Augustine Abbey along the Pilgrim’s Way, in which Sigerico was an abbot for 10 years.
And then you will leave the city on the North Downs Way, the excursion path which coincides with the layout of the Via Francigena and you will lose yourself in the British countryside, dotted by farms and villages. Kent has been described as “the Garden of England” for its vegetable gardens and for the beauty of its rural landscape. Only two stages – easy and relaxing – will lead you to the sea of Dover. However, you will have time to experience the British reception in the stop-over of Sheperdswell, a calm village in which a pub is the main grouping place, where you can drink to the first day of walk.