Photo credit Andrea Faggi & Alessandro Brucini
At its heart, the journey of each life is a pilgrimage, through unforeseen sacred places that enlarge and enrich the soul. ~ John O’ Donohue
Tomorrow I leave. My second pilgrimage calls and it will be through beautiful Italy. I will place my feet on the medieval route, The Via Francigena, first mentioned in a parchment of 876 AD in the Abbey Of San Salvatore at Monte Amiata in Tuscany.
What makes this trip incredibly special is that I will be accompanied by my parents for the first 9 days. What makes it even more exciting is that we will be joined by Sylvie, my dearest French Canadian friend I made on the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela last year. We will start in the Swiss Alps below the Great San Bernard Pass and walk to Rome. We have 34 days to walk so will be forced to omit some stages of the journey, which include the rice fields in the Po Valley. It will be a good compromise. All going well, we will reach the Vatican City in Rome on time as a point of celebration, much the same as arriving in Santiago, like we did last year.
I feel so very lucky to be on pilgrimage again as an adventurer and spiritual explorer, taking time out of my busy routine. I have the most amazing, supportive family and loving husband who encourages me to follow lucid dreams which can lead to ancient, fragrant paths and villages in Italy! Being on Camino is a wild dream. You cannot know it till you do it. It marks you and claims a seat in your soul. You sit differently in the world. For me it’s a reminder and refresher to live in awe and wonder. To have purpose. So come walk with me, and watch another journey unfold…
Some history of the Via Francigena
The considered starting point of the VF is in the English cathedral city of Canterbury, passing through England, France, Switzerland and Italy, ending in Rome. The route was known in Italy as the “Via Francigena” – “the road that comes from France”. Pilgrims took this route to visit the tombs of apostles Peter and Paul.
Sigeric the Serious, the Archbishop of Canterbury used the Via Francigena to travel to and from Rome, recording his route. He only documented his return journey, consisting of 80 stages and averaging about 20km a day for a total of 1700 km.
The Via Francigena comprises several routes that changed over the centuries, dictated by trade and pilgrimage. Unlike Roman roads, the VF did not connect cities, but relied more on Abbeys – monasteries and convents. About 1200 pilgrims a year make this pilgrimage.