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#1
Next July some of my brothers and sisters will be walking part of either the Via Francigena or Via di Francesco. My sister and I will have three weeks; the rest of them only have about one week to walk. I'm excited to share with them at least part of the pilgrim experience, even though I know it will be quite different than the pilgrimages to Santiago.

I've read what I could find online, but still could use a little help in finalizing which section to do. I've narrowed it down to Lucca > Siena > Rome (Francigena) or La Verna > Assisi > Rome (Francesco).

Via Francigena goes through all the iconic towns. I like that we'd see them with different eyes than all the tour groups and day trippers. The guys who can only go for a week could do San Miniato to Radicofani. It goes through Tuscany, and everyone loves Tuscany. This would be a super fun cultural vacation. I'm sure we'd love it.

But I am also worried that the area is too touristy, especially at the height of summer. My memories of San Gimignano is of watching hundreds of visitors line up for whatever gelato Rick Steves told them to line up for. I'd prefer a more intimate experience. Also, July is the only time we can go, and I'm concerned about the lack of shade on the route.

The Via di Francesco appeals to me because it appears to blend the cultural with the spiritual a bit more, given it's focus on Saint Francis. I like that it goes through wilder areas. I like that it goes to less well known areas, which to me suggests we'd have a more direct connection to the local culture. And I'm guessing that Umbria is just as beautiful as Tuscany.

My concern here is timing. Some sites suggest La Verna to Assisi takes seven days, but others eight to nine. And it looks like getting from Assisi to Rome in 14 days would not leave much room for error.

My open questions involve cost (is one more expensive than the other?), pilgrimage infrastructure (I know there's less than in Spain, and I like that ... but I don't want to be in hotels the whole time), popularity (I'd like to meet a few other pilgrims!), and just a general sense of what the vibe is of the two.
 
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#2
July will be very hot in Italy Michael, but I guess this is your only holiday window? Six of us from the Uk are doing the Leg : Lucca to Siena but waiting untill September hoping to find it a little cooler and you can manage this in a week. Leaving you to decide if you can really make it to Rome in the time you have left.
 
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