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We will be walking Way of St. Francis, the Northern Way, this portion is just under 200 kms and is from La Verna to Assisi. This prayerful walk will be that and so much more as we walk through Tuscany and meander through the towns that St. Francis himself walked.
9 walking days, mixed with prayer and meditation. This will be an amazing pilgrimage. We want to offer this to everyone, so there will be an option for light walking and van transfers. You choose, choose your prayer time. Some like walking and some may wish to walk a little and then make it to our resting place with time for prayer and meditation. It’s your day, its your walk, you do what you are being called to do.
We will gather as a group to enjoy spiritual exercises and prayer.
From the Sanctuary of La Verna in Pieve Santo Stefano through the Forests of the Casentino Park in Tuscany.
After having visited and meditated in the places of St Francis in La Verna, the first leg of the journey begins.
It has challenging height differences, but the journey brings pilgrims closer to the beauty of nature proclaimed by Francis. The path leads through the woods as far as Pieve Santo Stefano.
This leg is one of medium difficulty, the climb is gradual, but there are a few steep areas on Mount Calvano and Mount Modina, which serve to get your legs accustomed to the walk to Assisi.
The leg is approximately 15 km long and should be tackled slowly while enjoying the beauty of the woods, which are at their most lush in this area.
Pieve Santo Stefano is famous as the “City of diaries” because it is the home of a fascinating public archive, in which there is a collection of writings by ordinary people that reflect, in various forms, the life of all the people and the history of Italy: they are diaries, letters and autobiographical memoirs. You can draw inspiration for your own diary of your journey to Assisi.
Dinner and Evening in Pieve Santo Stefano.
Today is a long one, some may wish to walk the complete path and others may wish to be picked up along the way.
You will have options along this path.
From Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro, through the Alpe della Luna Nature Reserve, stopping off at the Franciscan Hermitage of Montecasale.
It is a hard leg of the journey, but the natural landscapes and the Franciscan hermitages will be among the fondest memories of your walk.
The height differences slow down your pace but perhaps they are a way of getting to know the “perfect joy” of St Francis.
Every path has its own impossible challenge and this leg will drive you to despair when you tackle it, but at the end of the day you will feel overjoyed about having overcome all the obstacles.
A place in which you can stop to meditate and rest is the Hermitage of Montecasale where the air is filled with the presence of St. Francis, who passed through here and converted three thieves. You continue on downhill towards Sansepolcro, the name of which refers to two pilgrims who returned from the Holy Land and founded a monastic community here. The town is a real treasure chest of beauty and in it you will find famous works by Piero della Francesca, Rosso Fiorentino and other Renaissance masters.
Dinner and Evening in Sansepolcro
Sansepolcro to Citerna, the landscape becomes more gentle and the Umbrian countryside begins.
A short leg of the journey, without any unevenness between Tuscany and Umbria.
You can take advantage of the day to visit Sansepolcro or Citerna, places historically linked to the pilgrim routes, reaching the town of Citerna in less than four hours, which is where your journey through the land of St. Francis begins: Umbria.
Sculpted on the door of the Cathedral of Sansepolcro is the traditional image of the pilgrim, with a stick and knapsack, as if to create a bond of continuity, over the centuries, between the ancient and the modern spiritual travellers. This route lasts approximately 4 hours, mainly on flat ground between the cultivated fields and ancient country houses.
The Village of Citerna, which is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, stands on a hill in the Upper Tiber Valley and has the characteristics of a fortification functioning as a watchtower.
Places worth visiting in the old town centre are: the church-museum dedicated to St. Francis, the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, in which you will find the precious Crucifixion by Pomarancio and a Madonna with Child of the Della Robbia school; a visit to the unusual medieval walkway within the walls is a must.
This route is about 20 km long and has a pleasant pace. From the rugged Apennine landscape of the previous legs, it takes you to the gentler landscape of the Upper Tiber Valley. The uphill stretches are not too demanding and you will be walking through fields and little villages.
Amid the horse chestnuts, oaks and downy oaks you will tackle uphill and downhill stretches without any steep slopes. Along the Way there are resting areas and drinking fountains where you can get food and water, among which there is a buffalo breeding farm that produces delicious mozzarella cheese. Once you have reached the ridge of the hills in the locality of Le Burge, you can enjoy a 180° view of the Tiber Valley and the Umbrian landscape, featuring hills, hillside villages, woods and churches.
Along the way, a votive shrine and an iron cross indicate the Franciscan hermitage of Buon Riposo to us, which gets its name from the fact that St Francis stopped here. The last stretch is downhill and leads to the simple, elegant façade of the Cathedral of Città di Castello, which welcomes pilgrims on their way to Assisi.
Città di Castello always had a very important cult of art: important artists worked here and solemn buildings and monumental churches were built, like the Cathedral, St Dominic and St Francis. Città di Castello is the home of one of the greatest Umbrian artists of the 20th century, Alberto Burri, whose works can be found in the town’s two museums. Not to be missed is the Diocesan Museum, where the Treasure of Canoscio is kept, one of the most ancient existing collections of objects for liturgical use, dating back to the Early Christina era.
From Città di Castello to Pietralunga, you will walk uphill and downhill through the silent woods.
Again you can choose to shorten your walk with the available van support.
You will be walking through nature, climbing and descending between the hills and, along the trail, there is one of the places at the heart of the Way: Pieve de Saddi.
Pieve de’ Saddi, centre of the first Christianization of the Upper Tiber Valley and, for centuries, a religious centre for the entire mountain area. The path continues on with uphill and downhill areas through valleys and fields where the silence and peacefulness of the areas regenerate the spirit.
Once you reach the locality of Loreto, the landscape changes: the silent forests give way to the cultivated fields and the villages. You will reach a tree-lined panoramic viewpoint next to the church of San Giovanni Battista (usually closed, but the kind caretaker lives opposite the church).
You continue on downhill, until you reach the locality of Abbadia di Piazza, where you carry on along a secondary road, alongside which there are majestic oak trees. From here, a long stretch in the sun and on the tarmac begins and you will come across the new “Fonte del Pellegrino” (Fountain of the Pilgrim), a gift to wayfarers from the Parish Church of San Venanzio in Sermonte – Rione del Piano – in the Diocese of Gubbio.
Your arrival in Gubbio is a reward for your efforts, not only because of the beauty of the place, but because of the strong bond that unites St Francis to the town.
The Way ends in front of the church of St Francis, where there is an endearing statue of Francis and the wolf, in memory of the miraculous taming of the ferocious beast by the Saint. Give yourself time in town to walk around the town circuit known as the Path of “Fratello Lupo” (Brother Wolf), which allows pilgrims to visit the Franciscan places in the town, the “second home” of the Saint from Assisi.
Gubbio to Valfabbrica through the forests of St Francis. Assisi gets closer and closer.
This leg of the journey retraces, inversely, one of the most important journeys undertaken by St Francis: once he had made the prophetic gesture of ridding himself of all property before the bishop of Assisi, he headed towards Gubbio, where he was welcomed as a pilgrim by his friend Spadalonga.
The route is approximately 36 km long and is challenging, due to its length and the continuous uphill and downhill stretches. Due to the length of this journey, we will have van support. Don’t worry, we won’t let you miss the important parts. Along this road, St Francis proclaimed himself “herald of the Great King” when faced with the bandits who manhandled him. He reached a monastery (Abbey of Vallingegno), where he was received reluctantly and sent to work as a scullery boy in the kitchen. As a pilgrim, Saint Francis faced numerous challenges and difficulties, but these are what makes the journey unique for anyone deciding to follow in his footsteps. The first stretch leaving Gubbio is on tarmac and you need to be careful. It continues on along a dirt road and once you reach the ridge, it is worth turning back to say goodbye to Gubbio.
You continue on walking between the valley of the Chiascio river and the castles standing on the hilltops. In the distance, on clear days, you can get a glimpse of Monte Subasio. You will get to the little church Delle Ripe or Madonna delle Grazie, one of the most endearing places along the Way, where memories of the passage of pilgrims are preserved. Stop here and meditate. Afterwards, you begin to climb through the conifer woods until you reach the hermitage of San Pietro in Vigneto: inside it there is a drinking fountain. After a descent, you continue uphill to the church of Caprignone, which is also a cool resting place. This time, the uphill stretch is challenging and leads to the castle of Biscina, the last place in which you can get a supply of water. From here on, it is almost all downhill until you reach Valfabbrica.
This last stretch is, however, on tarmac and in the sun, so always remember your sun hat and water supply. The Franciscan Parish Church of Coccorano is worth visiting. The wait is almost over and Valfabbrica is a Franciscan Monte do Gozo, where you can meditate on the journey that will end in Assisi in front of the tomb of St Francis.
From Valfabbrica to Assisi: the great day has arrived. The journey comes to an end in front of the tomb of St Francis in the Basilica dedicated to him.
After the long days of walking, of effort and joy, uphill and downhill, the journey to Assisi in the footsteps of St Francis is coming to an end. This leg of the journey requires a final effort in order to tackle the uphill and downhill stretches.
The route starts in the silence of the hills and woods, and then from Pieve San Niccolò the landscape opens up over the valleys with olive groves and vineyards. The first stretch is in the forest and you will have to tackle a few challenging uphill areas in the woods. This leg of the journey is a compendium of the route covered: uphill and downhill stretches, some quite steep, but the nearness of Assisi brings new energy to your legs. Suddenly, you will notice the harmonious and majestic Sacred Convent and the Basilica of St Francis as one with the city of Assisi.
This is one of the most beautiful moments of the journey, which foretells the joy of your arrival. Once you reach Assisi on foot, in the locality of Ponte de Galli, there is the lower point of access to the Bosco di San Francesco (Forest of St Francis) of the FAI (Italy’s National Trust – make an offer to enter), which you can cross as an alternative to the uphill tarmac road. You enter Assisi from Porta San Giacomo, through which the pilgrims left the town on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
The majestic façade of the Basilica of St Francis, when lit up by the sun, is the first reward of the journey. The great moment has come: you only need to reach the Saint’s tomb. Here, in the soft everlasting light, pilgrims can gather their thoughts in prayer and meditate about the journey they have been on. Next to the entrance to the Lower Basilica, there is the Statio Peregrinorum, where you can collect your well-deserved Testimonium (for those who have travelled 100 km on foot or 200 km by bike) or the Chartula Peregrini, which will allow you to remember your journey forever.
Today we will walk to Eremo delle Carceri .. 4 kms … 3 miles
Perched on the forested slopes of Monte Subasio, this monastery is set around the caves where St Francis and his followers prayed and contemplated spiritual matters. The carceri (isolated places, or ‘prisons’) are as peaceful today as in St Francis’ time, even though they’re now surrounded by religious buildings. It’s a claustrophobic walk down to Francesco’s Grotta (cave), where he prayed and slept on a stone bed in his later years.
The oak woods around the Eremo are criss-crossed by several hiking trails. As you walk, look out for a series of bronze statues of St. Francis (kicking back on the ground, sandals off) and two friars, Ginepro and Leone, staring at the constellations.
The Eremo is about 4km east of Assisi – allow about an hour to walk there, less for the downhill return.
- Accommodations Double Rooms
- Van Transfers
- Packed Lunches
- Luggage Transport
- Two Guides
- Spiritual Exercises
- Airfare - International