Via Francigena

The first step: how and why to get on the road along the Via Francigena or the Cammino de Santiago

Redazione AEVF
Redazione AEVF

From the 16th to the 18th February 2018 a traveling seminar will be held dedicated to all those who wish to travel on foot to Santiago or Rome, or travel other great routes, but do not think they are up to it (or they just need some information!).

Two days dedicated:

To those who think that slowness is revolutionary

To those who suspect that walking is not just a physical activity

To those who want to discover the beauty of the mind on the way

To those who want to get to know walkers, pilgrims, wayfarers, wanderers, flâneur, from ancient times to today…



To those who say “I’ll never make it”

To those who believe that they must have training

To those who do not know where to start organising the trip

To those who have never prepared a backpack

To those who have never had a blister

To those who think they cannot do without certain comforts

To those who think they’ll get lost … which sometimes happens!

To those who are afraid of having bad encounters (including ones with themselves)

To those who have never seen the Via Lattea up close

To those who believe, to those who don’t, to those who don’t know


Often those who dream of departing for Santiago, Rome or Assisi are intimidated by the prospect of walking hundreds of kilometres on foot, marching for days and days. Life has accustomed us to travel by car or other means of transport for even the shortest journeys, and we rarely walk far.

Even those who are more accustomed to walking, usually do so only in the mountains, or in parks, and look at the prospect of crossing Italy and Spain on foot with suspicion, often leaving the trails to walk along asphalt roads, sometimes with traffic.

Yet today only a journey on foot allows us to understand a territory in all its facets, accepting the ugliness to appreciate the beauty. Only on foot you rediscover the charm of a meeting, the value of a smile, the authentic meaning of hospitality. 

A long journey on foot, especially a person’s first long journey on foot, is almost always an extraordinary experience, capable of profoundly changing a person. And it’s within reach of anyone. But as Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher says:

 “A journey of a thousand miles always begins with the first step.”

The most difficult passage, the most critical moment, is the decision to depart, to separate from your routine, to get involved.  In our course we want to tell you about the beauty and the difficulties of the journey, to provide you with useful information to organize your trip.

We will narrate the Camino de Santiago, the Via Francigena, the Camino di Assisi with words and images. We will give you useful information for training, for organising a backpack, for the choice of equipment. We will explain the most common problems and the most common physical ailments, to teach you to avoid them or to treat them. We will walk alongside you, trying to make “the first step” with you.

The course will take place largely on the road, between the Via Francigena and the Serra Morenica forest.



18:00 : arrival and greetings

18:00 – 19:30 : Presentations, description of the Via Francigena, description of the route, projection of images along the route, description of difficulties and indications on the organisation of the trip.

19:00 : screening of the documentary “The Faces of the Via Francigena”, by Fabio Dipinto.

20:00 – 21:30 : shared dinner



8:00 : Breakfast

9:00 : walking from the Casa del Movimento Lento in Roppolo to reach the ancient village of Piverone and return to the Casa del Movimento Lento in the afternoon along the Via Francigena.  It will be an easy route of about 10-12 km, with features similar to many stages of the Via Francigena.  During the stops we will read some passages from the books of famous authors together.

12:00-13:00 : lunch (sandwiches) in a bar of Piverone

15:00 : Return to the Casa del Movimento Lento, to talk about how to prepare for a long journey on foot: how to dress and what to wear; how to choose a backpack, and how to prepare it; how to choose walking shoes, the right equipment according to the seasons, how to train, how to avoid the most common ailments, and if you really cannot avoid them, how to treat them.

18:00 : Way of St. James – description of the route, projection of images and / or movies on the route, description of the difficulties and indications on the organization of the trip.

20:00 – 21:30 : dinner in a restaurant near the house.

21:30 : Night walk


7:30 : breakfast

8:30 : walk in the Serra Morena plateau where we will put into practice some of the topics dealt with during the first two days of the seminar. It will be an easy walk of about 6-8 km.

12:00 : return to the Casa del Movimento Lento to talk about the study of the route, maps, sources of information, where to sleep, how to navigate with and without a GPS, how to read signage, even when it is not there.

1:00 : shared lunch

4:00 : greetings and departure.

The course will take place with a minimum number of 6 participants, a maximum number of 15.

Recommended equipment: a notebook and pen, hiking shoes, waterproof windbreaker, backpack and water bottle.


The teacher

For over 20 years, Alberto Conte has been involved in spreading slow travel, on foot and by bicycle, collaborating with some of the main Italian tourism promotion agencies.  In 2006 he founded itinerAria (, a company which specialises in the design and surveying of GPS networks of walking and cycling, and consultation in the field of “soft” mobility. In 2011 he founded the Associazione Movimento Lento, of which he is president, and in 2014 the tour operator SloWays.

Since 2005 he has been the technical manager of the Via Francigena on behalf of the European Association of the Vie Francigene, and in 2013 he designed and marked the CicloVia Francigena.  In 2017, together with his wife Susanna, he moved to the Casa del Movimento Lento, a shelter for travellers along the Via Francigena. He is a registered Environmental Hiking Guide in AIGAE and a cycling tour guide.


The course will be held at the Casa del Movimento Lento, an old farmhouse located along the Piedmont Via Francigena in Roppolo, in the province of Biella. The house has a large garden where outdoor exercises can take place while leaving the house to take one of the many country roads that proceed for tens of kilometres in the hills of Biella.

Roppolo is 100km from Milan and 60km from Turin. For those arriving by train, the Santhià station is 12km away, and we can pick you up from the station at a time agreed in advance, or you could take a bus to Ivrea. If you prefer to arrive on foot, just take the Francigena on the road, from Santhià it’s a pleasant 3 hour walk.

If instead you are forced to arrive by car, take the A4, exit at Santhià, then continue towards Lago di Viverone. We are approximately an hour from Milan and 45 minutes from Turin.

Logistics and costs

The course will be held at the Casa del Movimento Lento, an old farmhouse located along the Piedmont Via Francigena in Roppolo, in the province of Biella, near lake Viverone.

The course is reserved for Slow Movement members only. Those who are not members will have the opportunity to register before the course, paying the registration fee of 15 euros per year.

The cost of the course is 90 Euros for each participating partner.

Other expenses include food and lodgings: it is possible to stay overnight both at the Casa del Movimento Lento, and in other affiliated reception facilities.  Cost of a bed in the House in a shared room: 19 euros / night per person (for those who have their own sleeping bag and towels) or 23 euros (including sheets), breakfast included. Packed lunches, and shared dinners.

For information on upcoming courses and bookings: Secretary  – 0161 987866 – 335 7979550 –


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