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 – Orvieto / Acquapendente to Rome*
The last segment of the Via Francigena in Italy is one of the most popular sections of this ancient pilgrim path. This journey takes you 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. Every step of the route is filled with echoes of the past.
Orientation begins in the town of Orvieto which holds a scenic and commanding position atop a cliff riddled with mysterious underground passages and Etruscan caves. Its Duomo is one of Italy’s best medieval treasures with a stunning mosaic facade. After transferring to Acquapendente, the next stop on the walk is the gorgeous lake town of Bolsena where a miracle is reported to have happened in 1236. From there you will go to the fortress town of Montefiascone, also known for its great wine and fabulous views of the Cimini Mountains. The medieval walled city of Viterbo follows, once a favorite residence of medieval popes. As you continue on 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. To finish your journey to Rome, you will be transferred to the Via Appia Antica so that you can follow this preserved Roman road into Rome.
*If you are doing the previous stage of the Via Francigena that goes from Siena to Acquapendente, you will start this last section in Acquapendente. If you only do this last section, you will be starting in Orvieto since it is easier to reach by public transport.