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THE VIA FRANCIGENA
The pilgrim’s road through Italy to Rome • 6 days tour for group • April – October
214 giorni (213 notti)
The Via Francigena is a medieval pilgrim trail and Cultural Route of the Council of Europe between the cathedral town of Canterbury, UK and the tombs of the two Apostles, Peter and Paul, in Rome. It passes through England, France and Switzerland before entering Italy at the Great St Bernard pass or the Col de Montgenèvre.
The Italian leg leads through the southern Alps, the Apennines and the hills, the forests, olive groves, vineyards, hilltop villages and farmsteads of Tuscany and Lazio. The essential stops were – and remain – the great churches visited by the pilgrims and the pilgrim hospitals such as:
• Saint Michael’s Abbey, better known as “Sacra di San Michele”, built in the 10th century, where the boulders of the rocky mountains blend into a single body with the whole of the basement, stairways and buttresses;
• St. Martin’s Cathedral of Lucca where, on a marble pillar adjacent to the Tower, there is a carving in the shape of “Labyrinth”, a symbol of the Francigena;
• the ornate Romanesque-Gothic Siena Cathedral, contains numerous masterpieces from every epoch. A work that in many respects is exceptional, is the floor, “the most beautiful… largest and most magnificent… that ever was made” in the words of Giorgio Vasari, art historian and artist of Italian Renaissance art.
The Via Francigena tour is designed for those who intend to embark on the sacred journey, exploring the ways in which the ancient rites of pilgrimage might inspire modern equivalent for today’s traveller. By taking the Via Francigena, pilgrims are offered the opportunity to restore the spirit, mind and body.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: San Gimignano, Siena, Val d’Orcia, Rome
HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY
- Departure information:
Check in: 8:15 am
Departure: 8:30 am (End: 5 pm in Rome)
From: Turin, Piazza Carlo Felice 63, in front of the pharmacy
- The Sacra di San Michele
The abbey was built between 983 and 987 in the Romanesque style, where the masses of the rocky mountains blend into a single body with the whole of the basement, stairways and buttresses Support. With a short walk to reach the sacred building for the visit Gate of the Zodiac (with the jambs decorated with reliefs of the signs of the zodiac), Staircase of the Dead (so named because during the restoration, between arches, niches and tombs have been unearthed several skeletons monks), frescoes of the Assumption of Mary (1505) and the Deposition from the Cross of Jesus (1505-1510), triptych altarpiece in the center the Virgin Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus (the work of painter Piedmont Defendente Ferrari, 1480-1540).
- Walk (2 km) from Ferriera to Sant’Antonio di Ranverso
- The Abbey of St. Anthony of Ranverso
The abbey was originally a hospital, founded in the 12th century by the Hospitallers of St. Anthony to care for victims of St. Anthony ’s Fire, a painful disease caused by consuming contaminated rye. Pilgrims came here over the centuries for cures and to offer thanks for a miraculous recovery. The highlight are the 15th-century frescoes with their lifelike depictions of pilgrims and saints that decorate the walls of the church. In the sacristy are the frescoes by Jaquerio, an Italian medieval painter, one of the main exponents of Gothic painting in Piedmont: “I quattro Evangelisti” (The four Evangelists), the “Orazione nell’orto” (Prayer in the garden) and the impressive “Salita al Calvario” (Ascent to the Calvary)
- Overnight in Turin
HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY
The old town has preserved its Medieval appearance (due to its finely-worked architecture), ancient and numerous churches (Lucca is also called the “city of 100 churches”) and, thanks to its many towers, bell towers and monumental Renaissance palaces. Among the towers, the Clock Tower is the highest, at 164 ft; here you can admire the hand-wound clock mechanism and the internal wooden staircase, with its well-preserved 207 steps. The Torre Guinigi is one of the most representative monuments of Lucca, displaying a fan of holm oaks at its top. We see some of the city’s other charming piazzas: Piazza Anfiteatro, built on the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheatre; Piazza San Michele, historic heart of the city; Piazza San Martino with the Duomo.
- St. Martin Cathedral of Lucca
Construction began on this Catholic cathedral in 1063. Of the original structure, we can still admire the great apse and the bell tower. Inside, there’s the most precious relic in Lucca – the miraculous crucifix “Holy Face of Lucca” – and the funeral monument of Ilaria del Carretto, sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia and considered one of the best examples of Italian funerary sculpture of the fifteenth century. Lucca became one of the main “resting stations” for pilgrims on route to Rome, as it is evident in the crosses engraved by passing pilgrims on the walls of St. Martin’s arcade.
- Walk (11 km) from San Gimignano to Badia a Coneo
- San Gimignano
The town’s main monuments are its walls, which still encircle it, and the famous “case-torre” (tower houses). Of the 72 tower houses that existed in the Middle Ages, only 15 remain, although it is easy to imagine them. The Duomo or Collegiate Church is a remarkable monument of Romanesque architecture in Tuscany and is famous for its murals and paintings, which include works of famous artists such as Taddeo di Bartolo, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Lippo Memmi.
- Overnight in San Gimignano
HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY
The Duomo in Siena lies in a piazza above the Piazza del Campo, a great Gothic building filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo as well as frescoes by Pinturicchio. The exterior and interiors are decorated in white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, black and white being the symbolic colors of Siena. To the rear of the cathedral, an impressive staircase leads to the Baptistery of San Giovanni: he frescoes that completely decorate the magnificent vaults are the most extensive and articulated religious cycle of the Sienese Renaissance, and the splendid baptismal font by Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti. Under the Baptistery, a crypt with 180 square meters of fully painted walls, was buffered and filled with debris It remained buried and hidden for about seven centuries and unexpectedly rediscovered during excavation work in 1999. The paintings, original colors, subjects and architectures give us important insight into the Sienese painting school of the thirteenth century.
- Church of St. Dominic
St. Catherine lived not far from here. In the chapel “delle volte”, above the altar, is the only authentic portrait of Catherine by Andrea Vanni. In the chapel dedicated to her is the tabernacle where her head is preserved and frescoes by Sodoma depicting episodes from her life.
- Walk (10 km) from Isola d’Arbia to Quinciano
- Overnight in Montalcino
HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY
- St. Christina’s Church in Bolsena
The sanctuary of Saint Christina has three main buildings: the Chapel of the Miracle, the Basilica and the Grotto of Saint Christina, to which the Catacomb of Saint Christina is added. An extraordinary event occurred here in 1263: Peter, a priest from Prague in pilgrimage to Rome to find confirmation of his wavering and above all uncertain faith in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, stopped at the sanctuary to celebrate mass after having visited Saint Christina’s tomb. At the moment of consecration, blood seeped from the host and spurts stained his corporal: this was the sign that Peter desired, and this is the Eucharistic Miracle, or Corpus Christi, whose feast was instituted by Pope Urban the 4th on August 11, 1264. Peter’s corporal is preserved today in the cathedral of Orvieto; the altar on which the miracle occurred and the bloodstained slabs are instead preserved in Bolsena.
- Walk (11 km) from San Lorenzo Nuovo to Bolsena
The city’s golden hour culminated in the years between 1257 and 1281, when it was chosen as Papal See as an alternative to Rome. In the following centuries, especially during the Renaissance, Viterbo maintained its role of culturally lively city and preeminent centre along the road to Rome. The presence of the Sanctuary of Saint Rose made it a pilgrimage destination very frequented up to present times. The historic centre of the city is more or less intact and still surrounded by the medieval boundary walls, which are very well preserved.
- Overnight in Viterbo
HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY
Conquered by the Anguillaras, a baronal family of Latium, at the end of the 12th century, Capranica became the heart of their dominions until 1456, when the family came into conflict with Pope Pius the 2nd. From this moment Capranica passed under the direct control of the popes, who for centuries entrusted its government to a cardinal. Thus began a particularly fortunate period for the town: the town centre was enlarged with the building of the present Borgo Vittorio Veneto, and many cardinals commissioned works of art and important construction enterprises. With the end of the Papal State in 1870, Capranica, having lost the privileges of primary centre of the area north of Rome, entered a period of decline.
- Walk (8 km) from Capranica to Sutri
- Roman Amphitheatre (Sutri)
The Amphitheatre was built during the Roman period, between the end of the 1st century B.C. and the 1st century A.D., a period of great splendour for the ancient city of Sutri. Completely dug into the tuff, there is no external architectural structure to help identify its presence beyond the cliff overlooking the Via Cassia. At the time it was built, however, its top was crowned by a circle of columns and niches, of which little remains. The arena level, which lacks in basements, is just beyond the entrance; its elliptical layout is 49×40 metres. The podium runs all around the arena, and five doors per side open off of it. The cavea was divided into three orders of tiers that could seat up to nine thousand people and could be reached by a system of stairs and corridors, which are still walkable today.
- Church of Saint Mary with Child (Sutri)
The church is built in a Mitreo (a temple dedicated to the God Mitra) transformed into a church in late medieval period. Prior to this the Mitreo had probably been used for human habitation. The entrance is through a vestibule decorated with frescoes. On the left is the Madonna with child between the patron saints of Sutri, Saint Dolcissima and Saint Liberato. On the right is Saint Christopher, protector of pilgrims and wayfarers. Placed centrally is what is perhaps the most fascinating painting of the entire cycle. It shows, on the right a man shooting arrows at a bull also to the right at the top of a hill. The archer is being struck by these same arrows which evidently are rebounding and wounding him. Above the man stands the Arch Angel Michael and all along the lower edge of the picture file a long line of pilgrims (recognizable for their attire) heading towards the hill. There is no shadow of doubt but that this picture recounts the tale of the bull that took refuge in a grotto and of the first of the three apparitions of the Arch Angel Michael on Mount Gargano in Puglia, events which gave rise to the founding of a sanctuary to the Arch Angel Michael there. Besides this the fresco is also tangible proof to the fact that Sutri was a centre for the worship of the Arch Angel Michael and an important stopping place for pilgrims travelling beyond Rome to the sanctuary in Puglia.
- Overnight in Rome
HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY
We reach to Rome to venerate the tombs of St. Paul and St. Peter. Ever since, the St. Peter’s Basilica has been the center of Christianity and the Basilica of St. Paul’s outside the Walls, the burial place of Saint Paul.
The Three Fountains Abbey comprises three churches that were built on the place of the martyrdom of Saint Paul. One of those churches is the San Paolo alle Tre Fontane (Saint Paul at Three Fountains) dates back to the 5th century but was completely modified in1599. Legend relates that, when St Paul was decapitated, his head bounced three times and three fountains miraculously gushed out, and thus the name “The Three Fountains”.
- Quota di partecipazione:
€ Group rates available on request
- Partenza da:
Entro il 31 Ottobre 2016 o oltre, fino ad esaurimento posti
LA QUOTA COMPRENDE: What is included in the tour cost
All on-tour transportation with new air-conditioned deluxe vehicles • Transport to and from start/end points of walks • 2 nights in a 3/4* hotel or in a church operated hotel in twin rooms with private bath/shower • Meals as indicated (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner) on the tour itinerary • Entrance fees and sightseeing as shown in the itinerary • Tour Director and local guides throughout the tour • All taxes
The Sacra di San Michele (Turin) • The Abbey of St. Anthony of Ranverso (Turin) • St. Martin Cathedral (Lucca); Duomo (San Gimignano) • Duomo (Siena) • Church of St. Dominic (Siena) • St. Christina's Church (Bolsena) • Roman Amphitheatre (Sutri) • Church of Saint Mary with Child (Sutri) • St. Peter's Basilica (Rome) • Basilica of St. Paul's outside the Walls (Rome) • Three Fountains Abbey (Rome).
Tour conducted in English. Available in German, French, Spanish, Russian. Multilingual local guides
LA QUOTA NON COMPRENDE: What is not included in the tour cost
Beverages (wine, beer, bottled water or soft drinks)Passport fees, visas, and visa photos as required • Other items not specifically mentioned as included • Optional Travelers’ Protection Plan (unexpected events before or during a trip may leave you with cancelled plans, lost luggage, or unforeseen medical expenses) • Guide and Driver tips are left to your discretion