Since medieval times there have been three famous Christian pilgrimage destinations: Jerusalem in the Holy Land, Santiago de Compostella in Spain, and Rome. The ‘Way of St. Francis'(Roman Way) is a section of a pilgrims' route to Rome. It is passing many places connected with the life of St. Francis. The route, which also carries the symbol of the keys of St. Peter, finishes in front of St. Peter’s tomb in Rome. Every year many pilgrims and trekkers from all over the world follow this path, passing hermitages, sanctuaries, ancient forests, olive groves and valleys rich in art and history.
♦ Via Salaria ("The Salt Road") – ancient Roman road connecting the Tirrenian coast with the Adriatic coast.
♦ Montelibretti – a small town famous for its medieval castle and the olive hills.
♦ Natural Park of Marcigliana – protected nature reserve which preserves all the charm of the Roman countryside.
Day 1. Individual arrival at Rieti
The town centre rests on a small hilltop, commanding a wide plain at the southern edge of an ancient lake. The area is now the fertile basin of the Velino River. Rieti, the Sabine Reate, is a quiet town with a lot of interesting sites. A part of the town is still surrounded by the town walls with characteristic round and square towers and 5 town gates. Worthwhile to visit is the roman cathedral Santa Maria with beautiful frescoes, the 13th century Sant’Agostino church and the 13th century S.Francesco church and the palazzo vescovile ("Bishops Palace"), whose construction was begun in 1283. Noteworthy are the loggia and eight Renaissance-style windows from 1532. A guided tour of underground Rieti is available for anyone interested. You stay in a **** star hotel in the town centre. _/_/_/
Day 2. Rieti - Poggio San Lorenzo
Leaving Rieti today you will get to know a part of the Via Salaria (the Salt Road) which connected the Tirrenian coast with the Adriatic coast. Along the way you will come across the pretty medieval village of Ornaro Alto and at the end of this third stretch the characteristic medieval village of Poggio San Lorenzo is waiting for you. The name of this village probably derives from the 4th century when Sant'Emidio stopped here to preach about the martyrdom of San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence). Sant'Emidio's words made such a mark on the people that they decided to rename their village. The village centre and the town walls date back to the Roman period. Near Poggio San Lorenzo is the famous animal park 'Giardino Faunistico di Piano dell'Abatino', a park with typical sub-Mediterranean vegetation where you can walk among downy oaks, holm oaks, field maples, manna ashes, Turkey oaks and hornbeams. The park is home to about 300 native and exotic animals including sloth’s, chital deer, Bennett's tree-kangaroos, meerkats, lamas, roe deer and raccoons. The animals are kept here for study and observation. You stay in a farmhouse B&B with swimming pool and restaurant. B/_/_/
Walking time: 6hrs; Distance:21,7 km /13,5 miles; Difficulty: medium to difficult; Ascent and Descent: 533m/412m/ max. height 647m – min. height 390m
Day 3. Poggio San Lorenzo - Ponticelli di Scandriglia
The scenery is particularly beautiful today thanks to the combination of ancient oaks, the archaeological area of the ancient Sabine town of Trebula Mutuesca and the church of Santa Vittoria which rises up on the hillside. Vittoria is said to have been a Roman noble girl who lived in the 3rd century AD and refused to wed a rich patrician, instead consecrating herself to God. She died in exile in Trebula Mutuesca, where her sarcophagus is now housed in a church. A lot of salvaged building materials from Trebula Mutuesca were used to build the church, which is a little gem of Romanesque art revised over the centuries. Inside the church is a cistern where water miraculously sprung up when Vittoria died here as a martyr. Continuing on your way you will reach the village of Poggio Moiano which rests at the foot of Mount Moiano. This village is famous for the floral pictures created for the solemn procession during the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (the last Saturday in June). Also in the area protected by the Lucretili mountains is the village of Scandriglia, another little marvel which we will encounter today. Scandriglia is known largely for a tragic event: the martyrdom of Saint Barbara in the year 290. Several places are worth visiting in Scandriglia: the 15th century Palazzo degli Anguillara is a grand building with fine renaissance architecture and some late gothic features. Preserved in the building are some frescoes ascribed to the school of Antoniazzo Romano.
At the end of the day you can visit the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which has welcomed a good number of saints: Blessed Bonaventure of Barcelona, Saint Leonard of Porto Maurizio, the Venerable Jean-Baptiste Trunchet of Burgundy and Brother Angelo Savini of Ponticelli. At the end of your walk you will be transferred back to the farm house B&B in Poggio San Lorenzo for another overnight stay. B/_/_/
Walking time: 6 hrs 25 min; Distance: 21,1 km; ; Difficulty: difficult; Total Ascent-Descent: 570m/748m/ max. height 560m – min. height 329m
Day 4. Ponticelli di Scandriglia - Montelibretti
After breakfast you are brought back to pick-up the route in the village of Ponticelli. Today is a short day but with not to much climbing. The path crosses the road for Nerola, where you can visit the Orsini castle which is perched on a high rocky outcrop. Through the countryside you go up to Montelibretti with its 10th century Palazzo Barberini. You can still see the defence walls of the town with lookout towers. The olive mills of Montelibretti might tempt you in for an olive oil tasting. Your overnight stay is in a farmhouse B&B close to the old centre of town. B/_/_/
Walking time: 4 hrs; Distance:14.3 km; Difficulty: medium; Total Ascent-Descent: +292m -389m/ max. height 362m – min. height 80m
Day 5. Montelibretti - Monterotondo
You leave Montelibretti and soon the olive groves of the hills give way to vast orchards. At the end of your day's walking the Via Salaria will lead you to Monterotondo, where there is plenty to see: the basilica of S. Maria Maddalena (17th century), the church of Madonna delle Grazie (14th - 15th century) and the Palazzo Orsini-Barberini, where you can admire the dining room frescoed by the Flemish artist Paul Brill. Your overnight stay is in the centre of Monterotondo in a *** hotel. B/_/_/
Walking time: 5 hrs 15 min; Distance: 17,4 km / 10,8 miles; Difficulty: medium; Ascent-Descent: 233m/316m/ max. height 232m – min. height 50m
Day 6. Monterotondo - Monte Sacro
Again today the route is mostly flat walking. You will enter the Natural Park of Marcigliana, a protected nature reserve which preserves all the charm of the Roman countryside with its gentle hills and valleys marked by deep ditches. The site of one of the most ancient towns of protohistoric Lazio, Crustumerium, was discovered here in the Marcigliana area. Leaving the Park behind you will find yourself approaching Rome, the climax of the Via di Roma. The end of today's walk brings you to Montesacro, a district of Rome which was founded in 1924. Among the places of interest is the Acqua Sacra water spring where many Romans come to fill up their bottles with mineral water straight from the source. Overnight stay in *** hotel. B/_/_/
Walking time: 5 hrs; Distance: 18,5 km / 11,5 miles; Difficulty: medium; Ascent-Descent: 245m/343m/ max. height 175m – min. height 35m
Day 7. Monte Sacro - Basilica di S.Pietro
There are so many things we should say about today's route! There is so much to see that it would take an entire guide book to sum it up. You will pass near the Mosque and the 'Parco della Musica' auditorium which hosts the big musical events of Rome. You will cross one of Rome's oldest bridges, the Ponte Milvio (4th -3rd century BC). Continue along the right bank of the Tiber to the beautiful Ponte Sant'Angelo bridge, which since medieval times has been the most frequented route for pilgrims heading for Saint Peter's. Pass Castel Sant'Angelo and finally... perhaps tired but surely satisfied, you will walk along Via della Conciliazione to reach the impressive Basilica of Saint Peter, in the crypt of which is St. Peter's tomb: the end of your journey. You will have an overnight stay in a a *** star near the Vatican or B&B at 1.7 km from Termini station and close to metro stop Lodi B/_/_/
Walking time: 4 hrs 15 min; Distance: 15,5 km / 9.8 miles; Difficulty: easy; Ascent- Descent: +60m -86m/ max. height 59m – min. height 15m
Day 8. Departure
End of the tour after breakfast. Satisfied that you made it all the way up to Rome, you salute this beautiful town. B/_/_/