Via Francigena: how to prepare yourself for the pilgrimage
Get ready for your adventure along the ancient Via Francigena
The Via Francigena, the ancient route from Canterbury to Rome, can be undertaken as a journey of self-discovery or as a challenging sporting adventure.
Whatever your reasons for doing it, it is important to plan the journey in advance and prepare your luggage carefully.
1. Define your programme
The first thing to decide is when you will travel. Winter and autumn are the most physically difficult seasons, as the cold and wet make the journey uncomfortable: a challenging adventure for those who really want to push themselves to the limit. Spring has a mild climate and nature is looking its best; walking through flowering fields is very pleasant. Finally summer, the hottest and most crowded season, but with longer days so you have more daylight hours available.
The second thing to decide is how many days you want to spend on the pilgrimage. If you have only a little time, it is worth remembering that the stages in the Terre di Siena can be done in one day (the shortest ones in around 3 hours). There are 7 stages in the Terre di Siena, a total of 184 km, each of which offers the pilgrim unique views, historic towns and ancient castles.
2. Choose your destination and direction
Once you have decided how long and when to make your journey, choose the stages that meet your objectives and your interests. Decide how long you will walk, the distances and the level of difficulty, and choose your stopping-places along the way.
For full details, visit the official site of the Francigena: viefrancigene.org
3. Get fit and choose appropriate footwear
The Via Francigena is challenging, so you have to be physically fit for it. However, if you are only doing one easy stage, it is not necessary to train beforehand. Choose proper walking boots or shoes that you know are comfortable.
4. What to carry in your backpack
Before starting the journey, get a capacious but light backpack (the usual advice is not to overdo the total weight, and carry a maximum of 7-8 kg on your back).
Only take useful items: underwear, tops, first aid kit, penknife, torch, mosquito protection, sun-cream, waterproofs and your pilgrim passport (a document pilgrims fill in during the journey as a record of their experience).
5. Take your spirit of adventure!
The Via Francigena has its own signposts but along the way you will also find other roads and alternative routes with different symbols, so pay attention to the roads you take so you don’t get lost. Now you’re ready for your great adventure!