The Francigena route (in times gone by also called Francesca or Romea route) is a pilgrimage path that starts from Canterbury and carries to Rome. It was one of the most important European routes of communication in Medieval age.
Usually the pilgrims followed the Roman Consular Roads. History told that Sigerico, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 990 went to Rome to visit Pope Giovanni XV. During his travel he marked the route, giving birth to one of the most important routes of pilgrimage.
Today we can reconstruct his route thanks to a document in which the stages of his travel are described.
Particularly at the beginning of the II millenium a multitude of pilgrims crossed Europe searching the lost Celestial Native Land.
The branch of the "Francigena Route“ represented the direct link between the north-western European regions and Rome. Numerous pilgrims journeyed along it crossing the Great St. Bernardo Pass.The historical sources of X and XI century say that along the Road of Faith leading to Rome, people could find transaction points with its famous fairs.
Passing on Lemano lake, the route passed through the sluice of Agaune, where there was a famous monastery that conserved Saint Maurizio’s relics.
To Aosta the pilgrims venerated St. Orso and St. Grato’s relics, and following the path the route crossed Ivrea, Santhià, Vercelli and Pavia, and arrived to Lucca,where the pilgrims venerated St. Volto. Finally they arrived in Rome.
The total distance developed for 1600 km. Pilgrims often walked 20-25 km a day, travelling in group and on foot for penitential reasons.
The original route crossed thirty-three cities : Canterbury , Calais , Bruay , Arras , Reims , Châlons-sur-Marne , Bar-sur-Aube , Besançon , Pontarlier , Losanna , Gran San Bernardo , Aosta , Ivrea , Santhià , Vercelli , Pavia ( deviation for Bobbio ), Piacenza , Fiorenzuola , Fidenza ( deviation for Parma ), Fornovo , Pontremoli , Aulla , Luni , Lucca , Porcari , Altopascio , S. Genesio , S. Gimignano , Siena , S.Quirico , Bolsena , Viterbo , Sutri , Roma .
In the 70s there was a rediscovery of the Compostela route and, in Italy, the Francigena route. Just like what happened for the Spanish Fireplace also the Francigena route lies completely under motorway asphalts.
Consequently a group of Francigena route fans decided to paint some marks along the historical path. Sometimes it was possible for them to restore the old original track, but most times it was a hard problem because too few traces were left.
Thanks to a great interest of media, like television nets and internet, the number of pilgrims is bigger. They walk along the francigena route mainly for religious reasons.
This recognition testifies Europe's cultural identity in the broadest sense of the word, by appreciating both its peculiarities and its unity and by laying special emphasis on its artistic patrimony.
The Francigena way represented in fact the union and communication of cultures and ideas belonging to a wide European community expressing then the wish and need for unity which has eventually led today to the breaking-down of national barriers.