Italy Hiking ? Umbria?s Via Francigena

Trip Length 7 Days
Group Size 4?14
Difficulty
Starting from
$3,199 for REI Members
$3,499 for non-members
Departures Apr 2020-Oct 2020
Mon���Fri 7am���5pm PT

Spend eight days following the Via Francigena route through some of Italy's most striking countryside.

Follow in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims on our journey, winding through picturesque landscapes, tranquil olive groves and thick oak forests. Experiencing Italy?s beautiful countryside?hiking through stunning scenery and spending evenings in charming hilltop towns?is an unforgettable experience.

We begin in beautiful Assisi, settling into the idyllic Umbrian countryside. Hike past quaint stone farmhouses leading to some of Umbria's best-preserved medieval towns. We pass from Umbria into Lazio, a region known for its volcanic lakes and mountain ranges. Here, we hike between small villages and fortified towns, taking time to explore historic Perugia. Discover Orvieto?s Etruscan catacombs and then hike through woodlands filled with wild boar to the volcanic crater lake of Bolsena. Each day?s adventure is countered with a chance to enjoy the sensorial pleasures of Italy: flavorful regional cuisine, tasting a variety of wines, and a cooking lesson.

Open trip gallery
See all trip photos

Trip Highlights

  • Follow the Via Francigena?s ancient pilgrimage route from Assisi to Viterbo
  • Hike past picturesque stone farmhouses, olive groves and Roman ruins
  • Savor culinary specialties and world-renowned regional wines
  • Learn to prepare handmade Italian pasta from an agriturismo chef
  • Visit ancient abbeys, Etruscan catacombs and charming, medieval hilltop towns

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. We hike 2.5?10 miles (3.5?6 hours) most days, on established dirt and stone trails, olive grove and forest pathways, and village cobblestones. Daily elevation gains and losses range from 330??2000? with some short steep ascents and descents.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Double-occupancy accommodations for 7 nights, all meals as specified on the Itinerary, 1 glass of beer or wine with included dinners, all transfers and luggage transportation as indicated in the Itinerary, one group departure transfer on Day 8 to Rome?s FCO airport, expert English-speaking guide(s), professional tour guide for St. Francis Basilica guided visit, Perugia city tour, underground Etruscan catacombs tour, wine tasting on Day 5, cooking class it Viterbo on Day 7, entrance fees and taxes as required to support the Itinerary.

Accommodations

Hotels, 7 nights.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Meeting in Assisi, we tour the Basilica of St. Francis.

Arrive at our group hotel in the medieval city of Assisi, Italy by 12pm today. Assisi can be reached via direct rail connections from Rome. It is the birthplace of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Assisi's finely preserved marble buildings and scenic location on the slopes of Monte Subasio contribute to its reputation as one of the most beautiful towns in Umbria. This afternoon we enjoy a walking tour to see the Basilica of St. Francis, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We also visit the 53 Romanesque arches of the Friary of St. Francis and the Cathedral of San Rufino. We overnight in Assisi. Dinner included.

Walking: 2.5 miles, 3.5 hours; elevation gain/loss: 440'.

Day 2

Follow St. Francis's footsteps on a hike through the Vale of Spoleto.

Today's hike begins in Eremo delle Carceri. This small hermitage, located in Monte Subasio Natural Park, served as a spiritual retreat for the young St. Francis and is still home to a small group of Franciscan monks. We follow in the footsteps of St. Francis, hiking on a mix of dirt and gravel trails through the Vale of Spoleto's rolling hills, verdant valleys and thick oak forests. Our destination is the quiet village of Spello with its beautifully intact pink-stone medieval center. Time permitting, we stop to view Pinturicchio's superb Renaissance frescoes in Spello's church of Santa Maria Maggiore before heading back to Assisi. All meals included.

Hiking: 10 miles, 5 hours; Elevation gain/loss: 1,100'/2,400'. Walking 1.5 miles.

Day 3

Explore Perugia, known for its artistic traditions, and travel to Orvieto.

The medieval hill town of Perugia was founded by the Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago and conquered by the Romans in 309 BC. We tour Saint Lorenz Cathedral and view paintings of the Renaissance master Pietro Perugino, one of Umbria's native sons and Raphael's teacher. A short transfer brings us to Panicale, a tiny architectural gem set amongst rolling hills with vineyards and olive groves. We stroll through narrow cobblestone streets and enjoy lunch. Next, we visit Orvieto which stands high above the Paglia valley on a crag of soft volcanic stone called tufa. We walk through cobblestone streets and visit the town?s unusual black-and-white banded marble cathedral. This Gothic building has an intricate and colorful fa���ade made up of both mosaic and sculptural elements. We take a guided tour of the underground city, following winding passageways to discover a 2,500-year-old world. We overnight in Orvieto. All meals included.

Walking tour of Perugia: 2.5 hours; Orvieto underground tour: 1 mile, 1 hour; Driving 3 hours.

Day 4

Hike to volcanic Lake Bolsena with lunch en route at a charming agriturismo.

Departing Orvieto, we follow an ancient Roman road to reach Bolsena. En route to the eastern shores of Europe?s biggest volcanic lake, we stop at an historic agriturismo to try the local produce and specialties. Following lunch, we continue our hike to Bolsena, a medieval Roman town with a rich history. Archeologists have identified Roman baths, temples, a small theater and amphitheatre to be from the 3rd century AD. The surrounding landscape is equally rich with black volcanic sands and beaches stretching for miles. Our waterfront hotel lies below la Rocca Monaldeschi dell Cerva; this impressive historical building has been a fort, castle and prison and now houses a museum. We overnight in Bolsena. All meals included.

Hiking: 8.2 miles, 4 hours; Elevation gain/loss: 713'/370'.

Day 5

Hike a ridge trail to Montefiascone and sample local wines.

Tuscia Laziale is an agricultural region known for its volcanic lakes, flower-filled fields and olive groves of rare beauty. Our path heads south as we hike along a scenic ridge trail overlooking Lake Bolsena. We follow a stretch of the ancient Via Cassia en route to Montefiascone, the next stop in our modern-day pilgrimage along the Via Francigena. This important Roman road once connected Rome with Italy's northwestern coast. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Montefiascone and nearby Viterbo became safe havens for numerous popes. This was during a period when the papacy had difficulty asserting its authority over Rome. Today, the town's historic buildings, churches and piazzas allow us to imagine what medieval life might have been like for its former inhabitants. Upon reaching Montefiascone we enjoy a tasting of famous wines of the region. All meals included.

Hiking: 8 miles, 4.5 hours; Elevation gain/loss: 2,000'/1,500?; Walking: 1.2 miles.

Day 6

Hike the ancient beech forests on Monte Cimino and explore the Parco dei Mostri.

The ancient beech forest of the Cimini Mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We hike the lush slopes of Monte Cimino (3,455'), an extinct volcano, following forest trails surrounded by 200-year-old trees that tower up to 130'. The next section of our hike takes us into a chestnut forest, where we learn about this important staple of the area?s cuisine. Following a lunch that focuses on local products, we have free time to visit Soriano nel Cimino and the impressive crenellated Orsini castle. Our adventure continues as we explore the Parco dei Mostri?the Park of Monsters. This open-air museum is comprised of dozens of huge, Renaissance-era stone sculptures. Dragons, giants, lions and other fantastic creatures were commissioned in the 16th century by Prince Vicino Orsini to express his grief upon the death of his wife. A transfer brings us to Viterbo; we become acquainted with this town, then have free time for dinner on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 10 miles, 5 hours; Elevation gain/loss: 430'/1,900'; Walking: 1.4 miles.

Day 7

Explore the shores of Lake Vico; learn to make a typical Italian meal.

Today?s countryside hike follows trails through chestnut, hazelnut, oak and beech groves which are divided by old dry-stone walls. Our trail ends on the shores of Lago di Vico (1,673'), which occupies the old crater of the Cimino volcano. The horseshoe-shaped lake lies in the shadows of Mount Venere (2,792'), a small volcanic cone that emerged after the volcano?s last eruptive phase more than 100,000 years ago. In the afternoon, we return to our hotel in Viterbo to freshen up, then transfer to one of the area?s most celebrated restaurants for a cooking class with the head chef. We learn to make a classic Italian meal, then dine on our creations to celebrate a week of exploring with new friends. We overnight in Viterbo. All meals included.

Hiking: 6.2 miles, 3.5 hours; Elevation gain/loss: 1,300'/1,480'; Walking: 0.5 miles.

Day 8

Transfer to Rome's Fiumicino airport and final farewells.

Following an early breakfast, we transfer to Rome?s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino (FCO) airport. Departing flights can be book after 11:30am. If you are extending your stay in Rome, you will transfer independently by taxi or train to your next destination. Breakfast included.

Driving: 1.5 hours.

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary?this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

You might also consider

Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.