The next stop on our tour isn’t actually a stop at all, more a stretch of path with enormous historic importance.
Running through the centre of the city is the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route running from Canterbury, through France and Switzerland, to Rome and onto Apulia in Italy where there were ports of embarkation to the Holy Lands.
In medieval times it was an important road for those wishing to visit the Holy See (the Pope’s jurisdiction in Rome), and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul. The name translates from the Italian meaning "the road that comes from France".
The route was established back in the 7th century, and was perhaps popularised by the marvellously named Sigeric the Serious, the Archbishop of Canterbury who used the Via Francigena to receive his pallium, a decorative Papal emblem.
Canterbury Cathedral’s southern portico marks milestone zero of the route, which passes through Kent to Dover and the ferries to mainland Europe.
Interest in the Via Francigena has grown in recent years when many who, after travelling the Camino de Santiago in Spain, wanted to make the pilgrimage to Rome on foot as well. In Italy, this gave birth to a network of lovers of the Via Francigena, who with paint and brush, began to mark its trails and paths. Closer to home, the Creative Pilgrims continue this tradition today.
The route was designated a Major Cultural Route in 2004, and in 2011, James Saward-Anderson and Maxwell Hannah ran the entire route for Water Aid. They completed the route unassisted in 58 days.
While we don’t run the entire route, we do cover some of it on our guided running tours. To find out more, please visit the link in the bio above.⬆️ ...