SAINT FRANCIS WAY

SECTION 3/4 – SELF-GUIDED

Trip Style

Rolling hills and valleys, olive groves

Availability

From May to October

Highlight

Basilica of San Francesco, Santa Maria Assunta, Cascata delle Marmore

Price from

1110 EUR

 

Grade

St Francis is the patron saint of Italy as well as the patron saint of animals, merchants & ecology.

 

The third section of the Saint Francis Way has you starting in the home of St Francis, Assisi and is predominantly through the region of Umbria before moving into the region of Lazio and arriving at the final stop on this section Rieti.  Walking through the Umbrian countryside you will pass by Trevi the ‘capital’ of olive oil production, Spoleto where you can view a letter written by St Francis as well as visiting Monteluco where St Francis meditate in caves.  Like the previous sections many of the towns and villages along this section of Saint Francis Way are rich in stories connected with St Francis and none more so than your final destination on this section, Rieti.  It is here that the ‘Miracle of Wine’ was preformed when St Francis was staying here towards the end of his life.  So why not treat yourself as the end of this section to a glass of white or red Colli della Sabina D.O.C. wine.

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Arrive into Assisi, the birthplace and final resting place of St Francis. This town is full of stories and connections to St Francis and well worth exploring. Here you will experience a sense of peacefulness, not only at the Basilica of San Francesco but also throughout the town.

PACKAGE DETAILS

Day 1: Assisi


Arrive into Assisi, the birthplace and final resting place of St Francis. This town is full of stories and connections to St Francis and well worth exploring. Here you will experience a sense of peacefulness, not only at the Basilica of San Francesco but also throughout the town.

Day 2: Assisi to Foligno (20km 5hr)


Leaving the town of Assisi which overlooks the valley flanked by the Chiascio and Topino rivers, you will take a scenic walk pass orchards of olive groves and country houses as you weave your way down then up to the hillside town of Spello. Here you can spend some time exploring the charming ancient town with its medieval gateways, Roman ruins and many churches. While here, why not sample the local cuisine and treat yourself to a hearty lunch of gnocchi! A short walk of approximately 6km past fields takes you to Foligno, your stop for the night and one of the few towns that are built on the plain in Umbria. Like other towns along this route during World War II, it was destroyed but has been lovingly restored to ensure the heart of this town has retained its medieval charm. Here is also where the first printed edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy was printed. Spend time exploring the town and its many museums, cathedrals and churches before sampling more local cuisine in one of the many restaurants.

Day 3: Foligno to Campello Sul Clitunno (21km 5hr15)


From Foligno, you will start out walking today on a mostly suburban route through Sant’ Eracilo. Passing by olive groves then through a forest before passing more olive groves you will then come into Santa Maria in Valle before again returning to walk through olive groves and a small forest before reaching Trevi. Here you can enjoy the quiet streets and perhaps stop and get a bite to eat in one of the local cafés or restaurants while admiring the view of the valley below. Leaving Trevi you will walk gently uphill through a vast orchard of olive groves providing a panoramic vista of the valley below, mountains in the distance and Trevi perched on its hilltop setting making it easy to see why Trevi is known as the ‘capital’ of olive oil production. Continuing through the peaceful olive groves up on the hill you will see Eremo Francescano where St Francis is said to have visited. To your right, across the highway, is Tempietto del Clitunno, a small paleochristian church and world heritage site that is worth a detour to visit. Going downhill through Pissignano you will pass by the Fonti del Clitunno Park with its spring-fed canals and swans and can be a nice spot to have a break before coming to your stop for the night Campello sul Clitunno. Here, there are many restaurants to choose from and where you can get a taste of the homemade local cuisine.

Day 4: Campello Sul Clitunno to Spoleto (11km 2hr15)


Today will be a short day’s walk that will give you plenty of time to explore the town of Spoleto. With Mount Reviglioso behind you, you will walk through the valley pass arable land following a bike path along the Marroggia River coming then into Spoleto. Perched on the hillside surrounded by a visually appealing rural backdrop, it is easy to see why St Francis declared “Nihil iucundius vidit mea valle spoletana” (Nothing is more gratifying to see than the Valley of Spoleto). Spoleto has much to offer visitors boasting a Roman Amphitheatre that has been restored and is used to host concerts and ballet performances, there is also the World Heritage site of the Basilica of San Salvatore which dates from the late 4th Century. A requisite of anyone following the St Francis Way is a visit to the Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta. Here you can see its most prized treasure an original signed letter by St Francis to Brother Leo. With plenty of time to spare you may also want to visit the fortress Rocca Albornoziana which is from the 15th Century and looms over the town.

Day 5: Spoleto to Macenano (21km 5hr15)


Leaving Spoleto you will come to a magnificent viewing point just below the fortress that provides an awe-inspiring vista worthy of a photo before you cross the Ponte delle Torri a 13th Century bridge that crosses from Spoleto to Monteluco over the Tessino river. A steep climb awaits through the Monteluco woods to Monteluco where St Francis sought solitude to meditate in the caves. In this town, there is a Franciscan convent as well as a café where you can enjoy a well-earned break and be sure to visit the Oratorio that has been built over where St Francis lived. After Monteluco, you continue to climb but more gently going through more tranquil woods to you reach a meadow where you can enjoy a picnic if you haven’t stopped to eat at Monteluco. From here you will begin your descent into the Nera River Valley which will be displayed before you in a sweeping vista as you descend to Pontuglia. Continuing now through farmland you will reach the sleepy village of Ceselli that is surrounded by green hills tops and has a beautiful peaceful piazza with benches where you can take a break and inhale the fresh air of the forest. Crossing the Nera River, as you leave Ceselli, you will make your way downhill with the forest on one side and fields on the other till you arrive at your destination Macenano, in the Parco Fluvial del Nera. Here you can enjoy a lovely evening meal freshly prepared in the local restaurant.

Day 6: Macenano to Arrone (11km 2hr50)


Today’s walk is relatively flat and short so you may want to take advantage and have a perhaps a somewhat later start today. Leaving Macenano you will walk through the valley flanked by the forest on the mountain to one side and meadows to the other. Reaching Precetto which sits on the opposite side of the river to Ferentillo you can see the impressive remains of a castle perched high on the hilltop. With time to spare today, you may want to visit the Museum of Mummies where you can view naturally mummified bodies some still with hair and teeth as well as admire the 16th Century frescos that were discovered in the crypt. Walking on through the valley across the flat fields then flanked again by olive groves on the mountainside you will arrive into Arrone your stop for tonight. This hilltop hamlet takes its name from a nobleman who in the 9th Century built a wooden fortified castle here which was later reconstructed with stone. Follow the narrow steep streets up to explore what is left of this medieval castle and be blown away by the view to one side of rolling hills of olive groves, forests and cypress trees. While on the other side you have a commanding view down the valley of the town as it disappears into the overlapping hills.

Day 7: Arrone to Piediluco (13km 3hr15)


Leaving Arrone today the walk will be predominantly flat with only a relatively steep climb up to Cascata delle Marmore. Walking through the valley floor past flat arable fields and small farmhouses you will then begin to walk at the base of the hills with a forest before a steep ascent to Cascata delle Marmore. These falls are not a natural phenomenon but rather were created by the Romans in 271BC to divert water from the Velino River to aid in draining the swamps around Reiti. This though led to problems in Terni where the river would then be prone to burst its banks. It was not until the 15th/16th Century that this issue was resolved through the creation of canals. More recently in the late 19th Century the power of the falls was harnessed for hydroelectricity resulting in the falls being switched off at certain times of days so it is worth checking the schedule of the falls to ensure that they are on when you arrive here today. Leaving the falls, you will then follow a path along the canal of Fiume Velino before approaching and skirting round Lago Piediluco to the picturesque town of Piediluco which means “at the foot of the mountain” and a very appropriate name. St Francis passed through here in 1208 and in his memory the Church of San Francesco was built. This village, due to its isolated location, has remained mostly untouched from the middle ages and exudes a tranquil charm that only mountains and water in close proximity can provide. Why not take a boat trip on the lake or if you are feeling energetic climb up to explore the ruins of Rocca di Piediluco.

Day 8: Piediluco to Poggio Bustone (22km 5h30)


Heading east out of Piediluco along the lake shore you will be heading initially to the hilltop town of Labro that is visible from the lake shore. Moving out now of Umbria you enter the region of Lazio, home to the Eternal City of Rome, and have a steep climb up to Labro, where you can take an early morning coffee break and admire the views back down over the lake. Walking on you will continue to gently climb up to La Croce after which you enter a more remote section of today’s walk. Ascending steeply through the forest you reach a meadow where there is a small church and from here it is a short walk to the Faggio Dan Francesco beech tree which is said to have bent to protect St Francis during a storm. This is also one of the oldest living beech trees in the world. Returning to the trail after visiting the tree you will now begin to descend down the mountainside to Cepparo and then continue on down to Poggio Bustone your stop for the night. This well-preserved and picturesque town is perched above the Rieti Valley allowing for some spectacular views. This town is closely associated with St Francis whom on entering the town would greet the people by saying “buon giorno, buona gente” (good morning good people). This greeting is commemorated on a stone slab in the heart of the town. St Francis also had two important spiritual experiences here, firstly he was forgiven for his sins by the Archangel Gabriel and also he had a premonition of the future where he would have followers from all over the world. If you have the energy you may also want to visit the Convento San Giacomo where St Francis stayed and you can visit the Grotto of Revelation.

Day 9: Poggio Bustone to Rieti (20km 5hr)


Walking down from Poggio Bustone to the valley below you will continue across this until you begin to head uphill then back down into Cantalice. Following the ridgeline downhill through the quiet countryside, you then have a gentle ascent to Santuario La Foresta. It is here that St Francis stayed when he was ill towards the end of his life. With many people flocking to the area the local vineyards soon realised that their livelihoods were being destroyed by all the people consuming the grapes and so appealed to St Francis to do something. He requested that they bring the remaining grapes to the winepress at the church and to their amazement the winepress produced double the juice of the previous year’s crop, and thus became known as the ‘Miracle of the Wine’. Leaving the church, the rest of the walk is through the suburbs of Rieti to the town centre. Rieti can trace its routes to the 9th Century BC. When it was ruled by the Romans they supposedly abducted the women to serve the Roman men. During World War II the town was partially destroyed but thankfully much of the medieval walls remain. On the riverfront is the Chiesa di San Francesco from the 13th Century, here there are frescos depicting the life of St Francis. Rieti has many restaurants serving freshly prepared local dishes that will not disappoint after today’s walk along the Saint Francis Way.

Day 10: Rieti, end of the walking holiday


After breakfast we bid you farewell.

INCLUDED AND NOT

  • 9 nights in Guesthouses, 2* & 3* hotels
  • 9 breakfasts
  • Roadbook (Guidebook)
  • Luggage Transfer
  • 24/7 Customer Care
  • Flights/trains
  • Insurance
  • Drinks
  • Lunches & Dinners
  • Transfer from/to airport
  • Extra night stays

Access

Getting to Assisi:

The closest airport to Assisi is Perugia and there are direct flights to London with RyanAir.

Getting home from Rieti:


The closes airport is Rome Ciampino. From here there are direct flights to Dublin and London with RyanAir. Alternatively you can also fly out of Rome Fiumicino airport and there are direct flights to Dublin with Aerlingus and to London with AirItalia, Veuling, Easyjet and British Airways.

To get to Rome Cimapino airport you can get a bus from Rieti and information on the times and prices can be found on the following website here.

To get to Rome Fiumicino airport you can get a train to Terni and then to Rome. Information on the train times and prices can be found on the following website here.

Alternatively we can arrange a private transfer to and from the airports for you, get in touch for pricing.
If required we can arrange a private transfer from and to the airport.

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