Inspired around the life of St Francis of Assisi, the Via di Francesco is one of the world's greatest pilgrimage routes. The route takes around a month to walk and passes through three regions, incorporating the most important pilgrimage sites for the beloved Saint.
Francis, often called 'the Poor Man' due to his life dedicated to poverty, was born in 1181 in the Umbrian town of Assisi and was proclaimed a saint in 1228 by Pope Gregory IX, only shortly after his death in 1226. Francis began by preaching to townspeople and soon gained some loyal followers. This led to the beginning of his sacred travels in 1209, when he led a group of 12 disciples to Rome, to seek approval from Pope Innocent III. After some deliberation, the Pope saw Francis in a dream and chose to give him approval, which in 1210 marked the official founding of the Franciscan Order.
At Christmas in 1223, Francis created the first living nativity scene, which is a tradition that still lives on in Italy. This was considered a great devotion to Jesus, for which he would be rewarded the following year. In the summer of 1224, Francis travelled to La Verna, to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Michael's Day, by fasting for 40 days and praying. It was here that Francis became the first person to receive the Stigmata, marks that resemble the wounds on a crucified body, as a reward for his devotion. He chose to hide the wounds for the rest of his life, they were only discovered after his death in his birthplace of Assisi, 1226.
The route can be walked north to south, or the other way around. The official start point is La Verna, where St. Francis received the Stigmata, however many pilgrims choose instead to begin the route from Florence. From La Verna, the pilgrim follows the path walked by St. Francis himself, through Assisi and down to the end point in St. Peter's Square in Rome
The route’s mountainous terrain provides a demanding walk but delivers spectacular scenery and landscapes with pilgrims crossing the Apennine mountains and visiting medieval hilltop villages.
Monasteries along the route:
Foresteria Valdese, Florence
Suore Francescane Angeline, Assisi
Casa Madonna Della Pace, Assisi
Assisi Garden, Assisi
Casa Maria Immacolata, Assisi
Domus Pacis, Assisi
Eremo Santa Maria della Visitazione, Assisi
Hotel Cenacolo Francescano, Assisi
Monastero di San Ponziano, Spoleto
Oasi di Greccio, Greccio
Casa Caburlotto, Roma
Casa Cardinal Guarino, Roma
Casa Il Rosario, Roma
Casa Madre Speranza, Roma
Casa per Ferie Margherita Caiani, Roma
Casa per Ferie Presentazione, Roma
Casa Francesca Romana, Roma
Casa Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore, Roma
Casa Salesiane dei Sacri Cuori, Roma
San Giuseppe House, Roma
Casa Seraphicum, Roma
Casa Preziosissimo Sangue, Roma
Casa San Juan de Ribera, Roma
Casa Valdese, Roma
Domus Australia, Roma