[Emilia Romagna slow] The Via Francigena
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“Europe was born in a pilgrimage, and its mother tongue is Christianity”
The Via Francigena, also known as via Francesca or Romea, is an ancient pilgrimage route from North-West Europe to Rome (and then through the Appia and the city of Brindisi, in the Holy Land). Literally, the Francigena name designated the origin of the route from the Land of Franche and, contrary to what was believed, was not a single route, but a series of paths that guided the pilgrims to the City of Rome. It was not a easy in fact during the Middle Ages start a journey from France to Rome: there were territories and cultures to cross and the journey could last even months before seeing the city of Rome.
Some pilgrims were dying along the way; others could met bunches of brigands; some were forced to make deviations from the original path for political issues. What prompted the men of the time to embark on this long, dangerous and tiring journey was the visit of particularly significant places for Christians, sites made sacred by the presence of relics or other places of great importance for the Catholic religion.
At the time in fact every good Christian used at least once in life one of the three “Peregrinationes Maiores” that had their target respectively the Tomb of Peter in Rome, in Santiago de Compostela and in Jerusalem.
The first and most complete official document on the Via Francigena is instead a meticulous travel relationship of the 10th century AD. It was written by the Bishop Sigerico, who was traveling from Rome, to whom he had been received by the Pope, in Canterbury, England. It is with this travel diary that officially born the Francigena itinerary; a route that, as already written, has been crossed by a large number of people according to the season, religion and political situation. The constant stream of pilgrims has allowed the various European cultures to communicate, forging the culture, art and the basic economy of Modern Europe.
Today, the Via Francigena, despite the most modern and fast communication routes, maintains its prerogatives of communication and exchange between peoples and culture unchanged and has been declared “Cultural Route of the European Council” since 1994, thus taking a fixed path, just like the Santiago’s journey.
Hamlet along the Way
As well as being a spiritual and naturalistic itinerary among the most beautiful and rich in the world, as far as the Emilia Romagna region is concerned, Via Francigena crosses some historical and spiritual villages such as Bobbio and Berceto. In particular, the town of Bobbio during the Middle Ages was a place of extreme spiritual value; Here stands in facts the San Colombano Abbey, founded in 614 by the Irish monk Colombanus, which was one of the sacred and safe places that met along the road that led to the Tomb of Peter in Rome.
Organization and services
On the official site of the Via Francigena it is possible to find all the information for the trip, the places where to sleep, the opportunity to find cycling paths along with all the other information on how to get the “Pilgrim’s Credential” and the “Testimonium“. You will fin find also the chance to download the GPS file for each stage, the latest track status news along with all the information and the current events.
The Via Francigena is usually divided into 6 stages for a total of just over 140 km, but these info are limited to the Emilia Romagna section (the entire itinerary of Francigena da Canterbury in Rome is about 16000 Km) and it does not present any specific technical difficulties except for the length of the stages, however modest, and water scarcity.
Nations crossed: England, France, Switzerland, Italy
Regions crossed: Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio.
Emilia Romagna section: GPS tracks
1st Stage | Caledasco – Piacenza (km 11,3)
2nd Stage| Piacenza – Fiorenzuola (km 34)
3rd Stage | Fiorenzuola – Fidenza (km 22,3)
4th Stage | Fidenza – Fornovo (km 34)
5th Stage | Fornovo – Cassio (km 21)
6th Stage | Cassio – Passo della Cisa (km 19)
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