Walk through Umbria, the green heart of Italy, to St. Francis’ birthplace of Assisi.
Follow well-marked trails through beautiful, undulating countryside.
Discover an unspoiled region of old-world traditions and architectural treasures.
Gaze across the landscapes that brought joy to the simple heart of St Francis.
Experience an atmosphere of profound spirituality as you finally reach Assisi.
Via Fransescana (St. Francis’ Way): Self-guided walking holiday in Umbria
St. Francis Way follows in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi through Umbria’s gentle hills. The route links several places that were significant in the life of Italy’s patron saint. You will follow the paths that were walked by St. Francis himself on his frequent pilgrimages. You will discover Franciscan churches, hermitages and convents, as well as works of art that preserve the memory of his words and deeds.
This walking holiday on the St. Francis Way takes you through Italy’s ‘green heart’, along the ridges and valleys of the Apennines. Umbria is characterized by medieval towns perched atop green hills and surrounded by wildflower-flecked meadows, shady forests, orchards, olive groves, and fields of wheat and barley. You will visit towns and villages full of history and culture. Beginning in Città di Castello, your route takes you via Pietralunga to Gubbio. A town rich in natural beauty and artistic treasures, this was the place of St Francis’ first pilgrimage. Some gentle ascents and descents take you across the verdant landscapes of Valfabbrica until you reach your ultimate goal: the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. The birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi has become famous throughout the world as a universal centre for the Franciscan message of peace and brotherhood. The Basilica of St. Francis is a cornerstone of world religious devotion and exudes an atmosphere of profound spirituality.
The spirit of St. Francis is still very much alive in this beautiful and unspoilt corner of Italy, and you can expect generous Umbrian hospitality at every stage of your tour on the Via Fransescana!
“Umbria is a land unto itself, the only Italian region that borders neither the sea nor another country. This isolation has kept outside influences at bay and ensured that many of Italy’s old-world traditions survive today. Travel here and you’ll still see grandmothers in aprons making pasta by hand and front doors that haven’t been locked in centuries”. Lonely Planet.
|6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS||€650 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for triple rooms. Please enquire for prices.
All accomodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite.
Breakfast is included everywhere with the exception of Valfabbrica. However, being in the town of Valfabbrica there are several places nearby where you can find a good breakfast.
Dinner is included for the nights in Pietralunga and Valfabbrica.
The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If a hotel is fully booked, then we will book a similar one for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
You can also book additional night(s) at any of the hotels along the way.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between April 1st and October 31st.|
|DIFFICULTY / TERRAIN||The difficulty level of this trip is rated as easy to moderate overall. The Via Francescana follows the Strade Bianche (gravel roads that meander through the hills), as well as forest paths and cart tracks through the Umbrian fields. As you approach the villages and towns some stretches on tarmac roads are unavoidable. Because the route passes through hilly terrain, some relatively steep ascents are to be expected.|
Day 1: Arrival in Città di Castello
Your Umbrian walking holiday begins in Città di Castello, a town rich in heritage and artistic treasures. Make sure you arrive early enough to pass a few pleasant hours acclimatizing to your new surroundings and discovering the ancient secrets of this charming Umbrian town.
Città di Castello has always had a very strong artistic culture: important artists worked here and contributed to the building of monumental churches like the Cathedral of St Dominic and St Francis. The town is surrounded by long stretches of 16th century walls and you will find wonderful artistry throughout its historic centre. It is evident in the Renaissance architecture, in the courtyards and open galleries of the noble palaces and in the cloisters and aisles of the churches.
You can enjoy wonderful views of the Umbrian hills from the top of the Civic Tower before sampling local delicacies such as white truffles in one of the local trattorias. Sit down for a glass of Montefalco wine amidst monuments dating back to Roman times.
Overnight: Città di Castello.
Day 2: Città di Castello to Pietralunga
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 614 m | Descent: 655 m | Walking time: 5 hrs approx.
After a short transfer this morning, you will walk up and down through peaceful woodlands, fields, and valleys to the welcoming Umbrian village of Pietralunga. You will find many pleasant resting places and water fountains along the route today. The area around Pietralunga is criss-crossed by various stretches of ancient Roman roads and contains ruins of Roman villas and aqueducts.
The historic centre of Pietralunga has preserved its medieval village atmosphere. Its old town walls encircle a cluster of narrow streets gathered around the ruins of the 8th century Lombard fortress, the Rocca Longobarda. The church of Madonna dei Rimedi and Pieve di Urbino are well worth a visit.
Day 3: Pietralunga to Gubbio
Distance: 18 km | Ascent: 547 m | Descent: 712 m | Walking time: 5 hrs approx.
Today’s route takes you through peaceful mountain valleys to Gubbio, one of the most important historic towns in Umbria. From Pietralunga you walk through a scenic landscape of woodlands and open meadows, while enjoying sweeping views of the surrounding hills. The trail is dotted with hermitages, abbeys, and little villages. The churches and abbeys offer the opportunity to stop and rest in the shade of the trees. The abbey of San Benedetto, dated back to XII century, was once an important reference point for pilgrims.
To avoid a long stretch of road walking, the final section from Mocaiana to Gubbio is by taxi (included). Gubbio is one of the most ancient towns in Umbria, remaining marvellously well-preserved, with many monuments that bear witness to its glorious past. Architecturally it represents the zenith of medieval civilization. Evidence of its ancient origins is provided by the Eugubine Tablets, one of the most important archaeological records in Italy – seven bronze tablets with writing in the Umbrian language preserved at the Civic Museum – and the Roman Theatre standing just outside the city walls. The monumental Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo, which holds the remains of the town’s patron saint, towers over Gubbio, with its architectural masterpieces that stand as symbols of the power of this medieval city-state.
Day 4: Gubbio to Valfabbrica
Distance: 23 km | Ascent: 336 m | Descent: 336 m | Walking time: 7 hrs approx.
Today’s walk is quite long, along the hills which separate Gubbio from Valfabbrica. The route offers breathtaking views of the Sibillini mountain range, part of the Appenines. It is possible to shorten the walk by taking a transfer (about 2km). It is a very nice walk through the beautiful Umbrian countryside and the valley of the Chiasco river, with medieval castles on the hilltops above. On a clear day you will get your first glimpse of Monte Subasio in the distance. Assisi is now getting close! Some ascending and descending through conifer woods takes you to the church of Caprignone, followed by Biscina Castle. From here it is almost all downhill to Valfabbrica, a quiet town which was an important fortress in the Middle Ages.
Exploring the old town of Valfabbrica, you will find the old medieval castle, which still has a tower which was once the ancient gate of the castle. Outside the Castle are the small Church of the Madonna di Foce, built in 1634-36, with a façade decorated with a large terracotta rose window, and the modern Church of Santa Maria Assunta, with stained glass windows and canvases from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Day 5: Valfabbrica to Assisi
Distance: 13 km | Ascent: 578 m | Descent: 498 m | Walking time: 4 hrs approx.
Your last walking day is an undulating and very scenic route along the Umbrian hills, with the Apennine peaks towering above. The first section is through tranquil woodland and hillsides, then from Pieve San Niccolò the landscape opens up over the valleys with olive groves and vineyards. Around the halfway point you reach a panoramic viewing point where you will catch your first glimpse of Assisi. Your journey in the footsteps of St. Francis is now coming to an end.
You enter Assisi via the traditional pilgrims’ entrance, the Porta San Giacomo, to be greeted by the sight of the majestic façade of the Basilica of St Francis. Your journey comes to an end in front of the tomb of St Francis in the Basilica dedicated to him. The Basilica of St. Francis was built in 1228, just two years after the saint’s death, as a place designed to receive his remains. According to tradition, Francis himself, on his deathbed, indicated this spot to his companions as the place for his burial. The surfaces are all in stone from Mt. Subasio, which has a pink colour during the day and shines white in the moonlight. The Basilica Superiore, which was built immediately after the lower church and consecrated in 1253, is home to one of Italy’s most famous works of art – a cycle of 28 frescoes depicting the life of St Francis.
In the year 2000, Assisi, together with its historic centre, the Basilica of St. Francis and other Franciscan sites, and almost the entire municipal territory, was declared part of the World Heritage of Mankind by UNESCO.
Day 6: Departure - Arrivederci Assisi!
Your walking holiday on the Way of Saint Francis comes to an end after breakfast this morning, unless you have booked any additional services with us.
Getting to Cittá di Castello
Departure from Assisi
|/||On departure from Assisi, you can easily reach the airports of Rome, Pisa or Florence by bus or train.|
|We will send you a pre-departure information pack, which contains detailed public transport information.|