The Via Francigena, a traditional pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, has always fascinated me. It passes through the Lunigiana, and changes the landscape drastically. One looks at the map of the route, compares it to a modern road map, and realizes that the Lunigiana would be quite an empty place if pilgrims hadn’t walked through it.
Rich pilgrims in the 11th and 12 centuries didn’t just misread Leviticus and call it “Christianity” as folks seem to do today. They actually took the things Jesus said to heart, especially the part about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. So they left churches, hospices, and inns in their wake. These things are the wonders you see in northern Tuscany today, like the Pieve di Codiponte or the Labyrinth found outside the Duomo di San Martino in Lucca, Italy seen below.
Yesterday, Fabrizio Ardito began from Aosta, intent on walking all the way to Rome along La Francigena. With the sponsorship of the Touring Club of Italy, which puts out some of the best guides to Italy’s regions I’ve seen, Fabrizio blogs, photographs, and phones in stories of the day’s events which you can listen to via podcast. Everything is in Italian though, so you’ll have to work that out, and the technical quality of the sound from Aosta left a little to be desired. It’s always bothersome when you are having trouble with a language and there’s noise to complicate matters. Still, it’s a good way to practice your language skills, if you have any…
In any case, if you’re interested in religious pilgrimage, have a look at the links in this article.