Via Francigena Walking Route in Canterbury
The Via Francigena, a 1800km pilgrim trail from Canterbury to Rome, leads down through North Eastern France, Switzerland, over the Alps via the Great St Bernard Pass and then down through Italy to reach the ‘Eternal City’. The route was not a single road but comprised several possible routes that changed over the centuries reflecting trade routes, the political situation and the popularity of the shrines of saints. Along these very same pilgrim routes, a thriving trading activity developed and during times of war armies made use of these established tracks.
The Via Francigena route that begins at Canterbury cathedral follows the path taken by Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury who travelled to Rome in 990 to meet Pope John XV and receive his investiture pallium. The 79 stages recorded in Sigeric’s diary of his journey back to Canterbury have made it possible to retrace the key stops on this, the shortest route between Canterbury and Rome, and which first became known as the Via Francigena in 876. The Council of Europe designated the Via Francigena a European Cultural Route in 1994.
In 2001 the Via Francigena kilometre zero stone was laid in the cathedral grounds to mark the start of the route to Rome.
Whether walking or cycling, the Via Francigena is a wonderful route through some of the most stunning regions in Europe including the North Downs Way National Trail to Dover, the Great War battlefields of Northern France, the Champagne region, Lake Geneva and the mighty Alps, the Apennines, the picturesque hills of Tuscany, through to the eternal city of Rome.
To find out more about the Via Francigena visit the website www.viafrancigene.org/en/
To find out more about National Trails visit the website www.nationaltrails.co.uk