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The Francigena way

From the Appennino to Radicofani... toward Roma

During medieval times there were three very important pilgrimages: That going to Jerusalem that going to Santiago di Compostela and finally that going to the tombs of Peter and Paul in Rome. A thousand years later to celebrate the Millennium, many pilgrims are treading the ancient path called Romea or Francigena once again.

The so called "Francigena" originated in France and connected northern Europe to the Holy City. After crossing the Padana plains it reached Lunigiana and then Tuscany through the Cisa pass ("per Alpen Bardonis Tusciam Ingressus" - Paolo Diacono, Historia Langobardorum, Book 5, Chpt. 27) otherwise called the pass of Monte Bardone, from "Mons Longobardorum". Next, to the southern most tip of Liguria in the province of La spezia, having passed through Pontremoli and Aulla, the areas of Santo Stefano, Sarzana, and Luni before passing on into the heart of Tuscia. The low lands of the Val di Magra, crossed by this great 'artery', was in medieval times a key thoroughfare: infact leading off the Francigena were numerous secondary roads which lead to the Val di Vera and the coast upto Genova. Around the Gulf were the ports of Portovenere, Lerici and S. Maurizio. It was from these ports pilgrims set sail to reach San Jago di Compostela destination of many ancient Italians. Continuing however in the direction of Rome one arrived at the first Tuscan Francigenan city of Lucca.

Continuing on now, beyond the Arno toward Altopascio; a swamp like area where the "Cavalieri del Tau" controlled the area and hosts were bound to offer a ferry service across the Arno. Once across the river the pilgrims continued onto Siena through the Valdelsa arriving at the monasteries of San Antimo in Valdorcia and San Salvatore. Both ancient monasteries, the former being of a French order the latter of a German. Or the pilgrims chose to continue further on to Contigiano (the old Mala Mulier) arriving soon after at the rocca di Radicofani.
Once across the Lazio border, the Francigena was then directed to the great volcanoes of: Volsino, Cimino, and Sabatino. Easily distinguishable for their soft undulating forms and the great lakes, which occupied the surrounding craters, of Bracciano, Vico, and Bolsena. At this point of the journey the Holy City was only a few steps away.

Text tratto dal pratico libro tascabile: "Guida alla Via Francigena 1000 anni dopo" by Claudio e Gianfranco Bracci - Naturarte, Firenze
In vendita da Febbraio 2000 a £ 15.000
La guida bilingue (italiano-inglese) riporta ogni informazione necessaria per la percorrenza e l'accoglienza turistica lungo l'itinerario di pellegrinaggio dalle Alpi a Roma



Text and pictures Gianfranco Bracci
Translation: Jeremy Carden

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