Guidebook for the Via Francigena?

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#1
On the Camino Frances, the "gold standard" is the Brierley guide.

Is there a similar guide that is "the one" on this walk?
 
#2
If we're talking about English language guidebooks, then the "gold standard" has to be Paul Chinn's Lightfoot Guides by Pilgrimage Publications. There are four guides - three for different sections of the VF and an historical and cultural guide to the route. The Lightfoot Guides provide details of walking, bike and horse routes, and the routes are frequently checked so the guides are very up to date. The 7th edition of the guides is expected shortly - so they are well tried and tested. The guides also point out the difference between the original and the official routes (an often controversial subject, particularly in Italy) and provide details of each route leaving the walker to decide on the best route themselves, given their own personal objectives. The guides also provide sensible advice on the best routes to take in bad weather. The maps in the guides are very good and include GPS way marks. The GPS data can be downloaded from the website. There is useful information on accommodation, banks, tourist offices, hiking shops, etc. The website also provides alerts for conditions along the route.

The only other guides in English are the Cicerone guides. There are two volumes in their first edition. The maps are diagrams rather than proper maps, and the guides do not always offer route information on the official versus the original route, so giving the walker no choice of routes in some places. No GPS info. Provides info on accommodation, bars, etc. Reviews of these guides are mixed, with some pilgrims sometimes finding them confusing. However, no one has not reached Rome using them.

Also useful are these strip maps of the Via Francigena through Italy by Franco Cinti andMonica D’Atti. They are bilingual – Italian & English. GPS data (for some reason only available for download via a PC not a Mac) is also available. While the maps themselves are excellent, they suffer the same confusion of the official vs the original routes, and are prone to directing pilgrims down the roads rather than cross country.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
#3
I would basically agree with Torrione, the difference with the Caminos especially the CF is that the route is not yet fixed and councils and other interested parties alter it from time to time not always to the long distance walker's benefit but to include some historic church or village. These diversions are fine for the day hiker but add time and distance for the pilgrim.

I have both the Chinn/Gallard Lightfoot guides and Alison Raju's Cicerone guides and they are different animals but I would not say one is better than the other it is apples and pears.

This page gives some more information:
http://www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk/guides-via francigena.html
 
#6
Does that book also cover the Via Francigena from Lucca > Siena > Radicofani > Bolsena > Sutri > La Storta > Rome? I thought the St. Francis Way only went from Florence to Rome through Assisi and completely different cities from the VF.


EDITED TO ADD: I think I just answered my own question. It's a semantics thing. I didn't realize that the Way of St. Francis is also considered a VF route.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
#7
I was not sure of the differences, Michael.
We decided to go and bought tickets without any basic research

We still have to work out which route.
We had planned on about 20-21 days of actual walking and now (after your post) see that 20 days is the "estimated" time from Lucca and that the estimate from Florence is about 28 days.
400km from Lucca and 550? from Florence.
We had better do some actual digging.

BTW, Michael, do you have a list of your stopping points and accomondations from Lucca forward, that you could share?
 
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#8
I'm planning to put together a list for the Confraterity of Pilgrims to Rome (a great resource) and I can share it but I am still digging out from under 7 weeks of mail / email first. The information is all in my blog though, if time is of the essence. BTW, my next walk was originally planned for the VF Sud from Rome to Brindisi but I'm seriously considering changing to Florence to Rome on the Way of St. Francis.
 
#9
Technically, the Via di Francesco's name is the Via Francigena di San Francesco. But in general most think of the VF in Italy as Valle d'Aosta to Rome via Lucca and Sienna. The Via di Francesco or "Way of St Francis" runs, as said above, from Florence through Assisi to Rome.
 
#10
Walked the French part of the VF with the Alison Raju's guide. Sadly, it was already too out of date.
I also have the Lightfoot Guides, very good but bought as e-books, to save weight. I do prefer a
'proper' book though.

image.jpg I've just ordered this one, will let you know what it's like when I come back :)
 
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#11
I am walking at present....3 days away from Switzerland.

I am using the Lightfoot Guidebooks .... excellent...with the Accomodation Spreadsheet from the UK Friends is Via F Site ...Also very good.

I use the free Maps.Me app on my phone. Download all the required MAPS over WI-FI for the walk. Also download the 3 Lightfoot Waypoint Files and gps tracks using KML format from viafrancigena.me site. All free. Works completely offline in Airoplane Mode. A numbr of the Maps.Me features also make lihe easy....

You may not be where you want to be but you will never be lost!!
 

sulu

New Member
#12
I'm in a state of total confusion, I think it's a case of overkill.

I had the Cicerone guide, a Spanish guide and various maps. They all vary at different points in France, and I am only planning to start in Reims! Today I received one of the Lightfoot guides. It is really good as a guide, good maps and very detailed descriptions, assuming that you plan to walk with your head stuck in a book also, for anyone planning to walk all the way from Canterbury to Rome, there are 3 books, but the worst part is that it is different again in many places. I had worked out where I would be walking now I need to totally rethink, fortunately I have the time.
I was aware that the Via Francigena is a moveable feast but I reckon maybe 1 book is enough:) One can be over informed.
 

Bradypus

Active Member
#13
I was aware that the Via Francigena is a moveable feast but I reckon maybe 1 book is enough:) One can be over informed.
I hate the type of guidebook which gives very detailed route directions of the "after 150m turn right at the post box, then KSO for 750m.." type. I really do not want to spend my day constantly looking up directions. Surely that is the point of the time and effort and expense which is put into creating a fully waymarked route such as the VF or the major Spanish Caminos? I walked without a guidebook and found that once I joined the official VF route at Besancon there was no need for one. For the vast majority of the time the route was either very intuitive or well-signposted. The occasional tricky part through larger towns could be navigated using Google Maps or a similar app on my phone. Once into Italy the excellent free downloadable maps from viefrancigene.org were adequate and signposting was generally excellent. The historical and cultural background information provided in the guidebooks is certainly worthwhile but I tend to spend rather more of my time physically walking than sightseeing and on the whole I am happy to find such information online through my phone or from local sources along the way. There is a lot to be said for serendipity :)
 

sulu

New Member
#14
I hate the type of guidebook which gives very detailed route directions of the "after 150m turn right at the post box, then KSO for 750m.." type. I really do not want to spend my day constantly looking up directions. Surely that is the point of the time and effort and expense which is put into creating a fully waymarked route such as the VF or the major Spanish Caminos? I walked without a guidebook and found that once I joined the official VF route at Besancon there was no need for one. For the vast majority of the time the route was either very intuitive or well-signposted. The occasional tricky part through larger towns could be navigated using Google Maps or a similar app on my phone. Once into Italy the excellent free downloadable maps from viefrancigene.org were adequate and signposting was generally excellent. The historical and cultural background information provided in the guidebooks is certainly worthwhile but I tend to spend rather more of my time physically walking than sightseeing and on the whole I am happy to find such information online through my phone or from local sources along the way. There is a lot to be said for serendipity :)
I agree about the guidebooks and that is what the Lightfoot guide is like, too much detail and too heavy to use as a guide when walking but useful as a resource. I used to be able to just take off but in old age I am finding I need more reassurance, I also have lots of time so I am enjoying playing around planning and drawing up my own 'guide'. For me the most important thing is to know where the possible sleep places are, where I can get a coffee and where I can get food. Other than that I know I'll get lost a few times, hopefully I don't walk too many extra miles.
For anyone walking all the way from Canterbury to Rome in one go carrying guide books must be something of a no-no, I reckon.
 
#15
I walked Lausanne to Rome from 31 July to 16 October this year. I walked Aosta to Siena on my own. I had 2 paper guidebooks Lightfoot and Cicerone but Pocket Earth was what got me through. Walking on my own with no knowledge of Italian other than good day breakfast lunch dinner. Pocket Earth was my best friend. I have been home 3 days now and am still in the pilgrim zone.
 
#16
So now I'm confused. Walked the Camino Frances (St Jean - Santiago, then to Finesterre) in '16. Looking at the Via Francigena (unsure of starting point at this time) to Rome and also looking at the Way of St Francis with a starting point in Florence, through Assisi, to Rome.

Former wilderness hiker/backpacker in the US and used to zero amenities, big packs, carrying tent/food/water filters/etc. Started long distance walking in England quite a few years ago, with town to town walking with a small day-pack. Then the Camino. Came to enjoy the difference between the isolation of wilderness and the social atmosphere that exists in the UK/EU nations. So looking for a village to village walk in Italy that would be similar to the Camino.

Now all that said, which is the more common route, the Via Francigena or the Way of St Francis?

What are the annual pilgrim counts on each route? I gather that they are both relatively uncrowded, like the beginning stages of the Camino (versus the last 200km leading into Sarria and then to Santiago). But I'm curious if there are any annual pilgrim counts for either route?

According to what I can find about the Way of St Francis route it has some areas very poorly marked, others marked pretty well with GPS (or GPS tracks in an iPhone) highly recommended. How about the markings of the Via Francigena?

Basically trying to decide which route and looking for some comparisons about each route.
 
#17
I walked Lausanne to Rome from 31 July to 16 October this year. I walked Aosta to Siena on my own. I had 2 paper guidebooks Lightfoot and Cicerone but Pocket Earth was what got me through. Walking on my own with no knowledge of Italian other than good day breakfast lunch dinner. Pocket Earth was my best friend. I have been home 3 days now and am still in the pilgrim zone.
Where can one buy Pocket Earth?
 
#19
So now I'm confused. Walked the Camino Frances (St Jean - Santiago, then to Finesterre) in '16. Looking at the Via Francigena (unsure of starting point at this time) to Rome and also looking at the Way of St Francis with a starting point in Florence, through Assisi, to Rome.

Former wilderness hiker/backpacker in the US and used to zero amenities, big packs, carrying tent/food/water filters/etc. Started long distance walking in England quite a few years ago, with town to town walking with a small day-pack. Then the Camino. Came to enjoy the difference between the isolation of wilderness and the social atmosphere that exists in the UK/EU nations. So looking for a village to village walk in Italy that would be similar to the Camino.

Now all that said, which is the more common route, the Via Francigena or the Way of St Francis?

What are the annual pilgrim counts on each route? I gather that they are both relatively uncrowded, like the beginning stages of the Camino (versus the last 200km leading into Sarria and then to Santiago). But I'm curious if there are any annual pilgrim counts for either route?

According to what I can find about the Way of St Francis route it has some areas very poorly marked, others marked pretty well with GPS (or GPS tracks in an iPhone) highly recommended. How about the markings of the Via Francigena?

Basically trying to decide which route and looking for some comparisons about each route.
The Via Francigena starts in Canterbury and ends in Rome. Here's a useful website:
http://www.viefrancigene.org/en/
The Via de Saint Francis is only a couple of weeks (I think), in Italy but I don't have any more details. Maybe other people can help?

Ps: Here's what I found https://caminoways.com/ways/st-francis-way-cammino-di-francesco
 
#20
Look on the Apps. if you have a 'smart phone'.
Thank you. I realized that after I posted...doh ! I am not having much luck finding the Terre di Mezzo guidebook on Amazon. I can only find it on the website and it’s 17 euros for the book and 40 euros to mail it! I’m thinking I will be travelling sans book!
 
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