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Francigena Way

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The Via Francigena, in antiquity referred to as the Via Francesca or Romea and then taking on the name Francigena, is the pilgrimage route that from Canterbury leads to Rome and it was one of the most important European roads in the Middle Ages.

 

History tells us that it was Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, on his way to Rome to visit Pope John XV, who was the first to note this path, thus leading to its becoming one of the most important pilgrimage itineraries.

 

The Via Francigena winds along over 1600 kilometers and goes from Canterbury, arrives in Dover then crosses the English Channel; from Calais, passing through Reims, Besançon and Losanna to then reach the Alps which are crossed over through at the Gran San Bernardo pass. From the Valle d'Aosta it goes down to Vercelli, Pavia and then crosses the Apennines between the provinces of Piacenza and Parma. From Pontremoli it continues on to Lucca, Porcari, Altopascio, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Siena, and Viterbo ending in Rome. The cities crossed through by the original itinerary were thirty-three: Canterbury, Calais, Bruay, Arras, Reims, Châlons-sur-Marne, Bar-sur-Aube, Besançon, Pontarlier, Losanna, Gran San Bernardo, Aosta, Ivrea, Santhià, Vercelli, Pavia, Piacenza, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Fidenza, Parma, Fornovo di Taro, Pontremoli, Aulla, Luni, Lucca, Porcari, Altopascio, San Genesio, San Gimignano, Siena, San Quirico, Bolsena, Viterbo, Sutri, and Roma. It took Sigeric 79 days to walk the entire way on foot. His average daily walk was thus about 20km per day.

 

In 1994, the Via Francigena was declared a "Cultural Itinerary of the European Council", earning, just like the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, international recognition.

 

In regards to the Piacenza part, those walking the Via Romea coming from Pavia stopped at the ancient Parish of Olubra, around which developed today's Castel San Giovanni. The importance of this area was due to a crossroads of important streets: the Via Romea, the Via Postumia and the road along Val Tidone. There was a lot of traffic both of merchandise and men. For this reason, as early as the 18th century, there were four hospices: the hospice of Costola, that of S.Giacomo, Ospedale dei Battuti and the hospice linked to the parish church. Besides Piacenza, the Via Francigena coincides from here on with various parts of the Via Emilia and crosses through the towns of Pontenure, Cadeo, Fontanafredda, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Castell'Arquato, Lugagnano, Velleia, Vernasca, Castelletto and Morfasso.

 

More specifically, for the city of Piacenza this route passes through Piazzale delle Crociate where, in November 1095, Pope Urban II called for the first Crusades and where the imposing Basilica di Santa Maria di Campagna stands, the street with the same name, piazza Borgo and the Church of S.Brigida. Passing along Via Garibaldi you reach the heart of the city: Piazza Cavalli with the monumental Palazzo Gotico and its equestrian statues of the Farnese. Not far away take the Via S. Antonino and you can stop and admire the oldest church, and current Basilica of the city. Continuing along the Via Scalabrini you arrive on one of the most important arteries of the Via Francigena, the Via Emilia. This road leads out of the city through San Lazzaro the current office of the Episcopal seminary, the museum of Collegio Alberoni, of the university and of a convent for pilgrims.

 

The European Association of the Vie Francigene (AEVF) issues the Pilgrimage Credentials. A document that attests that the person in possession of it is on a pilgrimage for a religious destination. The pilgrim must always have it with them to be identified as such and to have access to the hospitality structures. In every place where pilgrims stay they will receive a stamp, until the walk is completed. Through the Credentials it will be possible for the pilgrim to receive a certification of the pilgrimage completed from the competent religious authorities.

 

In detail

 

Countries crossed: England, France, Switzerland, Italy

Regions crossed: Valle D'Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio

Legs: in Emilia Romagna this route crosses through Piacenza then continues on to Fidenza and its passes through the Apennines to reach Siena going through Pontremoli, and finally down to Rome. Keeping in mind the places to stay, the itinerary can be broken down as follows:

1st leg: Caledasco - Piacenza - 11.3 km

2nd leg: Piacenza - Fiorenzuola - 34 km

3rd leg: Fiorenzuola - Fidenza - 22.3 km

4th leg: Fidenza – Fornovo – 34 km

5th leg: Fornovo – Cassio – 21 km

6th leg: Cassio - Passo della Cisa - 19 km

Length: the Piacenza leg, going along the Via Emilia from Castel San Giovanni to Fidenza, is about 75 km long total. The Emilia Romagna part is 141.6 km total. The entire route is 1600 km long.

Level of difficulty: due mostly to the length, the incline and the eventual scarcity of water. The route does not have any particular technical difficulties.

 

Information

 

Website: www.viefrancigene.org/it/

segreteria@viefrancigene.org

 

Province of Piacenza with information on the via and the stops

Tel +39.0523.492001

iat@comune.piacenza.it

 

Province of Parma with informazioni on the via and the stops


Last modified May 03, 2017

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