The program will focus on creating an environment for reflection in order to deepen your connection with God. This retreat is open to people of every demographic. A typical day will look like this:
Morning: Pilgrims usually rise shortly after daybreak to enjoy the crisp morning air. We will begin the day with a short facilitated meditation on the inspirational theme for the day followed by an orientation for the hike ahead. Breakfast will then be on your own, based on your own needs and desired departure time. The morning will be spent walking, with rests and lunch along the way.
Afternoon: After walking 4-6 hours (averaging 25 km each day), you will arrive at your overnight destination sometime in early to mid-afternoon. Everyone is permitted to walk at their own pace, with or without a companion. Afternoons will be spent showering, resting, journaling or doing laundry. Before dinner, you will have the opportunity to debrief the day with the group over drinks, if desired.
Evening: You may choose to eat dinner with our cohort, a smaller group, or on your own. Dinner in Italy is typically much later than in other countries (around 9pm). However, due to the rigorous exercise of the pilgrimage, we will aim to arrange dinner between 7-8 pm. Afterward, there will be an optional brief meditation before bedtime.
The program above describes a typical day and the opportunities that will be available to you. While we hope you will participate in some of the group sessions to enrich the experience of others, it is not required because we realize that every person’s pilgrimage is unique. Each person comes with different questions, hopes and needs. We want to respect and honor where each person is at. The intent of the program is to provide a basic rhythm that pilgrims can follow as desired.
Via Francigena – Florence to Rome
The pilgrimage begins in Tuscany and takes you past the towers of San Gimignano, the circular walls of Monteriggioni and on to Siena, the emblem city of the Via Francigena. You will find solitude in wheat fields and olive groves and be immersed in history, such as the square basin of Bagno Vignoni, a thermal spring whose water was a cure-all for medieval pilgrims. On the border area between the Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal States, you’ll wander solitary roads and wild landscapes topped by the volcanic cone of Mount Amiata. You’ll visit Acquapendente and other ancient towns such as the gorgeous lake town of Bolsena where a miracle is reported to have happened in 1236.
After Lake Bolsena you will walk through the classic Italian landscapes of Umbria and Lazio which are relatively off the beaten track so you may have the trails, piazzas and churches to yourself much of the time. You will pass through the fortress town of Montefiascone, known for its great wine and fabulous views of the Cimini Mountains, and the medieval walled city of Viterbo, once a favorite residence of medieval popes. As you continue through spectacular landscapes, you will pass waterfalls, charming Etruscan villages and historical sites such as the necropolis and the ancient city of Sutri with its Roman amphitheater. Once you arrive in the vicinity of Rome, you will transfer to the Via Appia Antica so that you can follow this preserved Roman road into the Eternal City.