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October 9, 2012 / TAB

Via Francigena- mile zero

I first crossed paths with the Via Francigena in 2007 and have stumbled across markings on numerous trips to Italy. It began to click when a friend started talking about her many pilgrimages across France and Spain on the Camino di Santiago. She suggested I watch the movie, The Way, which illustrated the fictional journeys of 4 travelers headed to Santiago di Campostela. I started planning to trace as much of the paths as I could sections at a time.

The Via Francigena is the main pilgrim road from Canterbury, England to Rome, Italy. travelers recorded their journeys back as far as 725 and the name, Via Francigena, was mentioned in 876. It consists of several roads and paths through France, Switzerland, and Italy and depended on the current political climate for its safety for the pilgrims. Its connection points were religious abbeys and monasteries. The average distance per day traveled is about 20 km, although passages in mountainous areas would be shorter.

The path though Lucca was easy, I had walked it many times without really seeing the markers but when I looked they were everywhere. An agriturismo in Montaione, where I stayed, posted a video of the path near them. On visits to Sutri and Viterbo, I found the path markers urging me to continue my research.

So the journey begins:

Canterbury is mile zero for the Via Francigena. It starts at the cathedral founded when Gregory the Great sent Augustine in 579 on a mission to bring Christianity to the Angles after seeing a blond haired slaves in the market, saying they were not Angles but Angels. At the end of the 10th century, Archbishop Sigeric made the journey to Rome to receive his commission from the Pope. His chronicle of the journey became the basis of pilgrim journeys although he wrote about the path from Rome to Canterbury, most pilgrims start from the other end. Pilgrimages to Canterbury became intensely popular when the Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170.

Entering into the cathedral gateway, you can find the mile/kilometer zero stone.

City road signs will show the happy pilgrim his way.

I walked from the Cathedral out of the city gate to the beginning of the path to Dover, following the Pilgrims Way.

Markings on the posts lead the way.

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