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VF - walking on the side of the highway or on designated paths.

Nolakarol

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016, Via Francigena (Lucca to Siena) 2017
How much of VF walking is on the side of a road, and how much is designated paths. I walked the Tuscany part of VF in ‘17 and the first day out of Lucca was awful - lots of traffic, noisy... It got so much better after that all the way to Siena. I heard from some pilgrims that up north much of the walking was like that first day - on the side of a busy highway. I’m thinking of doing the entire Italian part of VF but that is my concern - how much walking will be along highways. Can anyone comment on that, please?
 

Jbirk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, SJPP to Finesterre April (2018)
Via Francigena Sept (2018)
Del Norte Aug (2019)
We did Lucca to Rome and I feel like it was about 40% of walking on the road.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
I'm currently walking the full VF from London...I will arrive in Lucca tomorrow.
Through northern Italy, the waymarked VF tries to keep you off busy roads as much as possible but sometimes there is just no other way.
Its hard to give you a percentage split trail vs road but the maps I used to plan my VF attempted to do just that (see screenshot below) if you followed their route.
I have actually elected on numerous occasions to take the road instead of the trail (for various reasons). Remember there is a big difference between 'busy highway' & simply a 'paved road'.
Motorways criss-cross Italy so if you're near one, you can safely assume the bulk of the traffic (incl trucks) will be using it thus making the other roads around it much quieter. Other factors are Italians mostly drive small cars (unlike Australia where monster 4WD's dominate), so there is more room in the lane if there's no/not enough shoulder. Also Italians are very good at swerving when they only see you at the last second due to them being busy texting... 😆
I've had no problems through the entire VF & haven't even had any close calls.
Although road walking can be noisy, maybe hard on the feet & a tad trying at times, I always take comfort in knowing it is the most direct way & won't throw up too many challenging obstacles such as landslides, fallen trees, flooded streams to ford, etc.
Otherwise, grin & bear it knowing 'this too shall pass'. 😊
Best wishes
👣 🌏
Screenshot_20190602-161907_Gallery.jpg
 
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timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
I am with @kazrobbo and @Galloglaigh2 on this, which doesn't really help the OP. Sorry about that. :(
I walked from Canterbury and my wish was to walk all the way. If this meant necessarily walking on a road on occasion, I took this as the hand I was given.
I happen to be going tomorrow to walk in the Derbyshire Peak District for a few days, and I will not expect to walk on ANY roads. For me they are quite different undertakings.
I don't feel constrained to always necessarily follow the route the book or the GPS is directing me to. I like the freedom to look at Google Maps and see what other options there are if, for example, I am particularly tired or the rain is heavy. If walking on the road is a lot shorter, I will add that to the mix of information when making my choice. I don't remember ever feeling in any danger on any road I have walked on and I have sometimes walked 20km on a paved road without a vehicle passing me. I have no objection whatever to walking on tarmac as a surface. And there were times when I was fording the tenth river of the day in Albania last month, and sliding in deep mud, when I longed for tarmac.
In Portugal, I never found the infamous cobbles - a frequent source of expressed sadness in this forum - any problem. The fact that the local people seem to manage them , and have done for centuries, makes me feel they cannot be quite as bad as some people think.
If I recall correctly, on the Camino Frances, as you leave Villafranca del Bierzo, going towards O Cebreriro, there is an alternative path to the right via Pradela, and there is the main road route (with separate pedestrian track) (and a third alternative to the left, the Dragonte). I did the second in very bad weather one year and was keen to do the first another time when I was walking with my nephew, young and superfit, a black belt in karate. He baulked at the sign where the first and second paths diverge, stating that the alternative was 'steep and only suitable for fit people'. I couldn't persuade him to give it a go. Then a woman aged about 90, in bedroom slippers came down the steep path, to do a bit of shopping. That brought the argument to an end. I am always encouraged by what I see other members of my own species accomplish. :)
 
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kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
I am with @kazrobbo and @Galloglaigh2 on this, which doesn't really help the OP. Sorry about that. :(
I walked from Canterbury and my wish was to walk all the way. If this meant necessarily walking on a road on occasion, I took this as the hand I was given.
I happen to be going tomorrow to walk in the Derbyshire Peak District for a few days, and I will not expect to walk on ANY roads. For me they are quite different undertakings.
I don't feel constrained to always necessarily follow the route the book or the GPS is directing me to. I like the freedom to look at Google Maps and see what other options there are if, for example, I am particularly tired or the rain is heavy. If walking on the road is a lot shorter, I will add that to the mix of information when making my choice. I don't remember ever feeling in any danger on any road I have walked on and I have sometimes walked 20km on a paved road without a vehicle passing me. I have no objection whatever to walking on tarmac as a surface. And there were times when I was fording the tenth river of the day in Albania last month, and sliding in deep mud, when I longed for tarmac.
In Portugal, I never found the infamous cobbles - a frequent source of expressed sadness in this forum - any problem. The fact that the local people seem to manage them , and have done for centuries, makes me feel they cannot be quite as bad as some people think.
If I recall correctly, on the Camino Frances, as you leave Villafranca del Bierzo, going towards O Cebreriro, there is an alternative path to the right via Pradela, and there is the main road route (with separate pedestrian track) (and a third alternative to the left, the Dragonte). I did the second in very bad weather one year and was keen to do the first another time when I was walking with my nephew, young and superfit, a black belt in karate. He baulked at the sign where the first and second paths diverge, stating that the alternative was 'steep and only suitable for fit people'. I couldn't persuade him to give it a go. Then a woman aged about 90, in bedroom slippers came down the steep path, to do a bit of shopping. That brought the argument to an end. I am always encouraged by what I see other members of my own species accomplish. :)
I agree with you completely Tim. I view the so called actual trail as merely a suggestion, it isn't set in stone. No-one knows exactly what paths Sigeric took so the trail is just what an organisation has deemed. Same with the guidebooks; the author's path is different again. As you do, I always look at all my options & choose the route best suited to the day for whatever reason.
👣 🌏
 
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kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Agree with Kaz. You’ll find a mix of roads and trails. It’s quite unlike a Camino . But you’re quite safe as they may be fast but alert.

And if you make it safely to your destination they’ll put out a marching band for you. Today in San Miniato.
As they should Galloglaigh (A)! I hope you got tickertape & confetti as well. 🎉
👣 🌏
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
How much of VF walking is on the side of a road, and how much is designated paths.
I started from Canterbury end of August 2018 and paused at Chaumont three weeks later. (In 2020 I hope to return to Chaumont and continue).

My research before leaving home was that the route marked in Open Street Maps (OSM) did its best to bypass just about all villages, towns and cities. And so bypass accomodation and food. In any case the VF route marked in OSM had many gaps. And I found few route markers.

My choice was to walk the roads. This made navigation a lot simpler. And gave me are far more interesting interaction with people along the way. And because I was in places that in August / September 1918 were places of hostilities I kept bumping into commemorations. And even came across memorials from 1815 and 1870. And an oblique, military, connection with pilgrimage routes through the north Pyrenees on Chemin des Dames between Laon and Reims. I got to visit the Wellington Tunnel in Arras (a very different affair to the Arras Tunnel in my home town of Wellington) and the permamnet exhibition at Colombey-les-deux-eglises.

As @kazrobbo says above, the A roads suck much of the traffic off the D roads that I walked.

@Nolakarol , I look forward to follwoing in your footsteps next year.

For whatever route you are following I say kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 

Chrisp

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: 2014
EPW: 2015
Portuguese Camino: 2016
TMB: 2016
Rota Vicentina: 2017
VF: 2018
I'm currently walking the full VF from London...I will arrive in Lucca tomorrow.
Through northern Italy, the waymarked VF tries to keep you off busy roads as much as possible but sometimes there is just no other way.
Its hard to give you a percentage split trail vs road but the maps I used to plan my VF attempted to do just that (see screenshot below) if you followed their route.
I have actually elected on numerous occasions to take the road instead of the trail (for various reasons). Remember there is a big difference between 'busy highway' & simply a 'paved road'.
Motorways criss-cross Italy so if you're near one, you can safely assume the bulk of the traffic (incl trucks) will be using it thus making the other roads around it much quieter. Other factors are Italians mostly drive small cars (unlike Australia where monster 4WD's dominate), so there is more room in the lane if there's no/not enough shoulder. Also Italians are very good at swerving when they only see you at the last second due to them being busy texting... 😆
I've had no problems through the entire VF & haven't even had any close calls.
Although road walking can be noisy, maybe hard on the feet & a tad trying at times, I always take comfort in knowing it is the most direct way & won't throw up too many challenging obstacles such as landslides, fallen trees, flooded streams to ford, etc.
Otherwise, grin & bear it knowing 'this too shall pass'. 😊
Best wishes
👣 🌏
View attachment 58412
Excellent response Kaz. I could have written it myself and I completely agree with you, that was exactly our experience. There were a few times though when the anxiety levels rose a bit; those Italian cars might be small but they go pretty fast 😄😄 I actually thought the drivers were, on the whole, pretty considerate. Have a wonderful journey all of you out there 👣😊
 

Chrisp

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: 2014
EPW: 2015
Portuguese Camino: 2016
TMB: 2016
Rota Vicentina: 2017
VF: 2018
I am with @kazrobbo and @Galloglaigh2 on this, which doesn't really help the OP. Sorry about that. :(
I walked from Canterbury and my wish was to walk all the way. If this meant necessarily walking on a road on occasion, I took this as the hand I was given.
I happen to be going tomorrow to walk in the Derbyshire Peak District for a few days, and I will not expect to walk on ANY roads. For me they are quite different undertakings.
I don't feel constrained to always necessarily follow the route the book or the GPS is directing me to. I like the freedom to look at Google Maps and see what other options there are if, for example, I am particularly tired or the rain is heavy. If walking on the road is a lot shorter, I will add that to the mix of information when making my choice. I don't remember ever feeling in any danger on any road I have walked on and I have sometimes walked 20km on a paved road without a vehicle passing me. I have no objection whatever to walking on tarmac as a surface. And there were times when I was fording the tenth river of the day in Albania last month, and sliding in deep mud, when I longed for tarmac.
In Portugal, I never found the infamous cobbles - a frequent source of expressed sadness in this forum - any problem. The fact that the local people seem to manage them , and have done for centuries, makes me feel they cannot be quite as bad as some people think.
If I recall correctly, on the Camino Frances, as you leave Villafranca del Bierzo, going towards O Cebreriro, there is an alternative path to the right via Pradela, and there is the main road route (with separate pedestrian track) (and a third alternative to the left, the Dragonte). I did the second in very bad weather one year and was keen to do the first another time when I was walking with my nephew, young and superfit, a black belt in karate. He baulked at the sign where the first and second paths diverge, stating that the alternative was 'steep and only suitable for fit people'. I couldn't persuade him to give it a go. Then a woman aged about 90, in bedroom slippers came down the steep path, to do a bit of shopping. That brought the argument to an end. I am always encouraged by what I see other members of my own species accomplish. :)
Agree with you completely Tim 😊
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Excellent response Kaz. I could have written it myself and I completely agree with you, that was exactly our experience. There were a few times though when the anxiety levels rose a bit; those Italian cars might be small but they go pretty fast 😄😄 I actually thought the drivers were, on the whole, pretty considerate. Have a wonderful journey all of you out there 👣😊
Oooh yes Chrisp...a few quickened pulses & muttered swear words but it keeps you alert (& the world needs more lerts 😁). I agree; the Italians on the whole have given me as much room as possible even with my best efforts to flatten myself (not easy with a backpack!) against walls, railings or embankments. They seem to expect the unexpected due to the number of cyclists & walkers on the roads. Also I've learnt to accurately guess the age & gender of drivers by how much room they allow in passing me.... 😉
Thanks for your good wishes.
👣 🌏
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018) Portuguese (2017) Via Francigena (2019). Del Norte (2020)
Thanks for the info Kaz, very useful. Can I ask where the map is from?
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
How much of VF walking is on the side of a road, and how much is designated paths. I walked the Tuscany part of VF in ‘17 and the first day out of Lucca was awful - lots of traffic, noisy... It got so much better after that all the way to Siena. I heard from some pilgrims that up north much of the walking was like that first day - on the side of a busy highway. I’m thinking of doing the entire Italian part of VF but that is my concern - how much walking will be along highways. Can anyone comment on that, please?
There is an alternate route out of Lucca that follows the old aqueduct south of town. Cuts out the worst of the "designated" Via. The alternate is even signed in places as alternate.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Thanks for the info Kaz, very useful. Can I ask where the map is from?
Sorry Ross, only just saw your query.
This map set from 2015 is now very difficult to get. I've attached a screen shot so you have all the details if you want to hunt it down. It comes in perforated, strip form ie; one strip per stage or part there of. Due to this format, the orientation is always changing rather than to the standard north...which I found messy & confusing...but that could just be me...! 🤭
👣 🌏Screenshot_20190609-193334_Chrome.jpg
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
Sorry Ross, only just saw your query.
This map set from 2015 is now very difficult to get. I've attached a screen shot so you have all the details if you want to hunt it down. It comes in perforated, strip form ie; one strip per stage or part there of. Due to this format, the orientation is always changing rather than to the standard north...which I found messy & confusing...but that could just be me...! 🤭
👣 🌏View attachment 58872
this is just too much of a coincidence. a lovely lady that I met only four days ago gifted me (the preserved part of) just such a map! it comes in (rather inconveniently) long stripes rougly divided into stages. on top are various info about kms walked and remaining, height gains and loses, profiles... there's also a rough description with numbers indicating the spots where you need to turn this way or that. it does predate the new routing of the vf (meaning there is a lot more road walking), so parts of it don't correspond to the new waymarking and the gps tracks from the official vf site.
 
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Carel5

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Mozarabe: Almeria - Merida
2018 Francigena: GSB - Massa
(2019) Francigena: Massa - Roma
Last year I walked from the Grand Saint Bernard to Massa (two stages before Lucca). I followed the signs, helped by the GPX from the official website. Only on a few occasions I walked on the verge of busy highways close to speeding traffic and heavy lorries. The most notable example were about three kilometers along the Via Emiliana outside Piacenza.

In their quest to avoid busy highways, the VF designers send you sometimes over steep hills, notable some parts in the Aosta valley and the stages over the Apennines, such as Cassio-Passo della Cisa and Passo della Cisa-Pontremoli. This makes the VF probably harder than the Spanish Caminos, but in my memory those were the most scenic parts of the walk.

As the VF passes some big cities, it is impossable to avoid suburbs, industrial areas and busy streets. In my view, this is part of the experience. In most cases you walk safely on the sidewalk. I have not yet done the stage from Lucca but I understand it is along backroads, not on the main road. Therefore, I would not worry too much about busy highways.
 
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