The Via Francigena was a major pilgrimage route and a communication corridor in medieval Western Europe from the Kingdom of the Franks, a bridge of cultures between Anglo-Saxon and Latin Europe that contributed to shaping the European identity (Le Goff). From Rome the way continued to Jerusalem, crossing Southern Italy up to the Adriatic Sea at Brindisi. Cultural Route of the Council of Europe since 1994, The Via Francigena is now a hiking route, based on the travel diary of Sigeric, the Archbishop of Canterbury who noted the places where he stopped on his way back from Rome to Canterbury in 990 after receiving his symbols from the Pope. Since 2007 it is promoted by the European Association of Vie Francigene.
European website: www.viaromeafrancigena.com
In Italy, the EV5 planned cycle route crosses the peninsula from the Swiss border near Lake Como up to Brindisi, following the Sigeric corridor from Pavia to Rome. It goes through the Po river plain, crosses the Cisa Pass to reach the Versilia Sea coast in Tuscany, moves through the hilly Apennines in central Italy and, passed Rome, goes through Southern Apennines up to the Adriatic Sea coast. It follows minor roads, cycle paths along canals and rivers, reused former railways, passing by 8 Unesco heritage sites (S. Maria delle Grazie in Milan with Leonardo’s Last Supper, Palazzo Medici of Seravezza, Val d’Orcia, historic centres of San Gimignano, Siena, Rome, Longobards’ heritage in Benevento, Sassi of the ancient city of Matera) and charming medieval towns and villages, archeological areas, remains of the Roman Via Cassia, witnesses of pilgrimages. South of Rome the itinerary follows stretches of the ancient Roman consular road Via Appia and ends in Brindisi, where the Mediterranean is open toward East.
The route is enriched by Italy’s distinctive variety of local traditions, wines and foods.
Currently, the Italian EV5 route is at the planning stage, embedded in the existing plans of regional cycle networks. Most of the Regions are working to develop the route. Within the framework of the European project "EuroVelo 5-Via Romea Francigena", one of the route proposals was surveyed according to the European Cycle Route Certification Standard. A mtb itinerary was identified and promoted by the European Association of Vie Francigene. FIAB and EAVF are collaborating to combine existing proposals into one route as close as possible to the European Standard.
Accommodation services for cycle tourists along the route: Albergabici Ciclovia Francigena
A pilgrim style hospitality at low cost, often in ancient monasteries, convents, granaries converted into a room and board facilities, is developed between Pavia and Rome.
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