Castelli Toscani

Francigena Road

Canterbury, Dover and then across the Channel to Calais, Bruay, Arras, Reims, Chalons sur Marne, Bar sur Aube, Besancon, Pontarlier, Lausanne, through the Great St. Bernard towards Aosta, Ivrea, Vercelli, Pavia, Piacenza, Parma, Fornovo di Taro, Pontremoli, Aulla, Luni, Lucca, S. Gimignano, Siena, San Quirico d'Orcia, Viterbo, Sutri, Rome and then on to Brindisi to embark for Jerusalem in steps of no more than 25 kilometers per day. This is the most 'classic' of the itineraries connected to the history of medieval roads, or simply the Via Francigena, also called Romea (because the pilgrims were called 'Romei' and to mean the 'final destination': Rome).


Why Canterbury? Why Rome?


This true European highway ante litteram was 'inaugurated' by Sigerico, Archbishop of Canterbury, who went to Rome in 994 to venerate the place of martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul, founders of the Church and organizers of the Christian Ecclesiastical community and receive the investiture by the Pope. Sigerico took two months to cover nearly 1600 kilometers and on the way back he wrote down the 80 steps of the route in his diary, since then 'guide' for all the pilgrims and travelers of the continent. The 'middle' medieval man was a great traveler, he did not have large possessions and goods, it was easy for him to pursue the most profitable job, the most fertile land or simply the adventure.


Along the roads, on which the various governments that succeeded the Roman Empire did not carry out, if not very scarce, maintenance works and that therefore soon ended up being shaken by the increasingly frequent use of wheel vehicles, hostels, hotels constantly arose inns, hermitages, hospitals, abbeys, buildings for collecting taxes and cities were growing; if we add to this the presence of bandits and the movements of nobles, sovereigns and armies, it is easy to affirm that the importance of this path goes well beyond the pilgrimage: here the 'medieval life' was understood in its purest meaning.


Great development and impetus to medieval pilgrimages on the Via Romea was given by the Crusades (from 1095), the opportunity to go to the freed Holy Sepulcher was stimulating for everyone. But undoubtedly it was with the invention of the Jubilee, thanks to Pope Boniface VIII in 1300, that the path became really 'busy'. Thus the double result was obtained of bringing Rome back to the center of Christianity's interest, after Jerusalem had stolen the scepter for the centuries of the Crusades, and of generating a not indifferent circle of money and trade bringing new life to the development of the city which languished after the end of the glories of the Roman Empire.

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