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VIA FRANCIGENA IN PIACENZA AND ITS PROVINCE

Description

The Via Francigena, once called Via Francesca or Romea and sometimes known as Franchigena, is the pilgrim's way that linked Canterbury and Rome and was once one of the most important European communication routes in the Middle Ages.

The story tells that Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, going to Rome to pay a visit to Pope John XV, first defined the trail known as Via Francigena, thus initiating one of the most important pilgrim's ways.

It develops around a path of 1,600 km starting from Canterbury, touches Dover and goes through the English Channel; from Calais, it passes through Reims, Besançon and Lausanne to arrive in the Alps. From the Great St. Bernard Pass the trail arrives in Aosta Valley to go down to Vercelli, Pavia and the Apennines in Piacenza and Parma province. From Pontremoli it reaches Lucca, Porcari, Altopascio, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Siena, Viterbo and ends in Rome.

The cities touched by the original trail are 33: Canterbury, Calais, Bruay, Arras, Reims, Châlons-sur-Marne, Bar-sur-Aube, Besançon, Pontarlier, Lausanne, Great St. Bernard, Aosta, Ivrea, Santhià, Vercelli, Pavia, Piacenza, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Fidenza, Parma, Fornovo di Taro, Pontremoli, Aulla, Luni, Lucca, Porcari, Altopascio, San Genesio, San Gimignano, Siena, San Quirico, Bolsena, Viterbo, Sutri, Rome.

It took Sigeric 79 days to travel, mainly on foot, all the 1,600 km of the Via Francigena, The average travelling speed was of 20 km a day more or less.

Since 1994 the Via Francigena has been elected "Cultural Itinerary of the Council of Europe" thus reaching, just as the Santiago de Compostela trail, a dignity that goes beyond State borders.

Concerning the itinerary that goes through Piacenza, those who travelled on the Romea coming from Pavia used to stay in the old Olubra church, around which it flourished the village of Castel San Giovanni, as it is called today. The importance of this area was due to the fact that important roads met here: Romea, Postumia and the road that led to Tidone Valley. The traffic was busy, both of goods and people. This is why in the 13th century there were already four hospitals: Costola, S. Giacomo, Battuti and the hospital close by the church. Apart from Piacenza, the Via Francigena touches from here other segments of Via Emilia and goes through Pontenure, Cadeo, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Castell'Arquato, Lugagnano, Veleia, Vernasca, Castelletto e Morfasso.

In Piacenza the trail goes first of all through Piazzale delle Crociate, where there is the massive Santa Maria di Campagna church, it continues on the road bearing the same name (Via Campagna) and arrives in Piazza Borgo with its St. Brigida church. Again, there is Via Garibaldi and the trail reaches the heart of the city: Piazza Cavalli with the imposing building of Palazzo Gotico and the Farnese equestrian statues. Not far from here, continuing on Via S. Antonino, you can see the most ancient church (and currently the main church) of the city. Continue on Via Scalabrini to reach one of the most important traits of Via Francigena: Via Emila. It leads outside the city going through San Lazzaro, where today the Bishops' seminar is based and also hosts the Collegio Alberoni museum, the University of Piacenza (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart) and a home for pilgrims. 

Telephone
+39.0523.492792/93 Associazione Europea delle Vie Francigene
Email
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Information Office
Last update
Monday, 06 March 2017
News and information edited by the Tourist Information Office of the Municipalities of Bobbio, Borgonovo V.T., Castell'Arquato, Piacenza and Vigolzone