Experience a Modern Italian Pilgrimage

by Holly Riddle

Oct 9, 2019

A short distance from Milan, Bergamo is a medieval inland town known for its picturesque streets and squares. The historic structures include 16th-century city walls and a 12th-century basilica, as well as 18th-century frescoes in the Cappella Colleoni chapel. © Slowcentury | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

Pilgrimages throughout Italy are nothing new. Middle Age and Renaissance travelers would traverse Italy on foot for days at a time. These slow travelers certainly didn’t enjoy the amenities today’s travelers do, though. However, you can still take advantage of the best parts of slow travel for yourself, without giving up any of your creature comforts.


2019 is the Italian Year of Slow Travel and, as such, Emilia-Romagna, a destination in the north of Italy, separated from Tuscany by the Apennine Mountains and accessible to American travelers via flights to Bologna, is showcasing 10 ancient pilgrimage routes that crossed through the region centuries ago. Now, travelers can more easily cross these 10 pilgrimage routes via pedestrian and cycling paths that highlight the region’s cultural and religious heritage.


Some of the paths open to travelers include the Via Francigena, perfect for culinary tourists and foodies; the Via Romea Germanica, the Via Romea Nonantolana and Romea Longobarda, all paths that ancient travelers would have taken to Rome; the Via deli Abati, a path that abbots would follow to cross the Apennine Mountains; the Cammino di Sant’Antonio, Assisi Walk and the Cammino di San Vicinio, all pilgrimages that recognize Saint Francis and Saint Anthony; the Via degli Dei, otherwise known as the Way of the Gods and connecting Florence and Bologna; and lastly the Path of Matilde di Canossa, which connects the Reggio Emilia Apennines with Tuscany.


While traversing any of these paths, travelers will find monasteries, sanctuaries, historic parishes, archaeological sites, medieval towns, nature reserves and more. Additionally, each of the paths follow routes that offer accommodations and dining.


Learn more about taking your own pilgrimage here.


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