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Via Francigena - March/April 2019

2020 Camino Guides

mh16505

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (April 2018)
Norte & Primitivo (September 2018)
Via Francigena (March/April 2019)
Ciao peregrinos!

Having done the Francés, Norte and part of the Primitivo last year, I'm looking for a different route outside of Spain. The Via Francigena caught my attention and I was thinking of heading out to start the trip next week. I am thinking of volunteering for some time at the Calais refugee centres before heading forward.

Has anyone done the Via Francigena during early spring? What kind of weather conditions should I be prepared for?

As I read online, this route is much more expensive than the routes in Spain. I am thinking of getting myself a waterproof tent and sleeping bag to camp most of the way because I am on a strict budget.

Any and all advice is much appreciated :)
 

Attachments

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
Hello @mh16505. Welcome.
I walked from Canterbury to Rome and beyond last year, starting on April 1st in Canterbury and there were a few people ahead of me along the way already.
I found this subforum the most useful place for information, and it is not so vast and unwieldy that it is too hard to navigate. There is also the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome FB page https://www.facebook.com/Confraternity-of-Pilgrims-to-Rome-1439019926329097/
but I (speaking personally) don't find Facebook easy to navigate nor to search.
Weather: Yes April was certainly spring in northern France but the middle ten days of April went on to be 'the hottest since records began' with temperatures in the 30s!! Never too cold. A bit misty and rainy at times, but spring weather not a problem. Sometimes a bit muddy.
If you leave now and keep going you will arrive at Great Saint Bernard long before the pass is open and you will not be able to walk across.......probably! Three people walked across the week before I attempted it, but you certainly could not expect to cross then. See my notes here:
But if you spent a couple of weeks in Calais as you mention that would improve your chances. But realistically, I would say don't expect to walk across before the end of May.
It is really quite different to Frances, Norte, Primitivo. Essentially no waymarking, and no single way, although the viefrancigene app will give you a gps track all the way for a route and is very useful to have on your phone. The French section gps was not available last year, but I used the Italian section, and it is very reliable.
But paradoxically, within Switzerland and Italy the path is so well marked that you don't really need the gps tracks!
I didn't camp but I know several others who did. It would be cheaper, but the costs are not really outrageous, I thought, and I never had trouble finding accommodation, without any need for pre-booking more than a day in advance. Camping is not really necessary in Italy, there is generally a lot of parish accommodation. Unlike the Camino, you DO need to ring ahead, a day before you arrive, especially in France. There will be no one sitting in an albergue or ostello, waiting, on the off chance that you might come!!
Between Canterbury and GSB last year I met briefly two couples, and a group of thirteen. So you will essentially be by yourself. But people hugely welcoming and in France people have heard of the VF and will know what you are at! (This is not the case in southern Italy beyond Rome!!)
I blogged at the start of my trip - there is a link at the end of my signature below.
Ask as many questions as you like - as I said this sub-forum is very helpful and has much less "noise" than many of the Camino forums ;) - I am not complaining, I am just saying!
 
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mh16505

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (April 2018)
Norte & Primitivo (September 2018)
Via Francigena (March/April 2019)
Thank you for the in-depth response, @timr! I enjoyed reading your insightful post and found it very helpful in my preparation for the road :) I'll give your attached links a read as well. Very grateful you took the time to share your experiences!
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
@mh16505 Just to add I like your 'style'!! - You say you are 'thinking of heading out to start the trip next week' but you have not yet decided whether you are camping nor bought a tent!
My own style is definitely at the same end of the spectrum of planners-ahead ;).
But you will need certainly to have an idea how you are going to find your way, whether using a book or gps or maps. You will need to know whether the Schengen restriction of days will affect you too, although you shouldn't have any trouble getting to Rome in less than 90 days.
 

mh16505

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (April 2018)
Norte & Primitivo (September 2018)
Via Francigena (March/April 2019)
Thank you for thinking ahead @timr ;) Due to sudden change in my job, I have some time off so I began researching routes this morning for an epic adventure. As of today I have already planned what gear I need to buy for the trip, where I will fly to stock up, downloaded apps and maps and all that jazz to be as ready as possible :D Being European I am lucky to not have to worry about Schengen restriction days - gives me a wee bit of flexibility on the spontaneity part!
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
@mh16505 Excellent to hear. I am fortunate to have a couple of passports and one will not be leaving Europe:);):). I feel very sorry for those who have to factor Schengen issues in.......as will UK passport holders, probably, soon.
I look forward to hearing of your progress down the via. T
 

RuediG

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Dovadola-Assisi-Rome (2019)
You need to be aware of what different countries allow. Here is an outline for most European countries
with a bit more specific information about Switzerland
From what I read elsewhere, wild camping in Italy (without permission of property owner) is generally both illegal and seriously frowned upon.
 

Harington

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
Ciao peregrinos!

Having done the Francés, Norte and part of the Primitivo last year, I'm looking for a different route outside of Spain. The Via Francigena caught my attention and I was thinking of heading out to start the trip next week. I am thinking of volunteering for some time at the Calais refugee centres before heading forward.

Has anyone done the Via Francigena during early spring? What kind of weather conditions should I be prepared for?

As I read online, this route is much more expensive than the routes in Spain. I am thinking of getting myself a waterproof tent and sleeping bag to camp most of the way because I am on a strict budget.

Any and all advice is much appreciated :)
The weather will be spring weather - ie it can be anything from snow, rain, hail, gales to glorious summery sun and temperatures! In NW Europe there's just no way of telling.

One down side of starting early is that you are unlikely to get over the Great St Bernard Pass on foot. It usually opens in early June, depending on the season. You can take a bus from Bourg St Pierre through the tunnel to the first village on the Italian side.

I read with admiration that you're thinking of volunteering at Calais. Good for you. I have spent time this January and last at Help Refugees/Auberge des Migrants, and if I can be of any help on that do contact me by PM. It's a very uplifting experience, working there, but the situation for refugees is very precarious, and the authorities employ very questionable and brutal methods to stop the creation of any camp.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
Ciao peregrinos!

Having done the Francés, Norte and part of the Primitivo last year, I'm looking for a different route outside of Spain. The Via Francigena caught my attention and I was thinking of heading out to start the trip next week. I am thinking of volunteering for some time at the Calais refugee centres before heading forward.

Has anyone done the Via Francigena during early spring? What kind of weather conditions should I be prepared for?

As I read online, this route is much more expensive than the routes in Spain. I am thinking of getting myself a waterproof tent and sleeping bag to camp most of the way because I am on a strict budget.

Any and all advice is much appreciated :)
Hi Mulan,
I fly out on Tues 😯😯🤗 to walk the Pilgrims Way to Canterbury & then the full VF to Rome. Depending on how long you volunteer in Calais, I could be ahead or behind you on the VF...either way we'll be on the trail at the same time. Feel free to PM me (or by public thread) & we could share weather & current conditions. Our walking style & exact route may differ but we'll both be under the same sky!
I'm expecting a mixed bag weather-wise (as described by @Harington ) & am packing for conditions in general. There may be the odd uncomfortable (or miserable 😄 ) day but 'this too shall pass'!
I am subject to the Schengen visa so forward momentum is the key for me.
If our paths don't cross, I wish you all the best & look forward to reading of your experiences. Good luck helping at the Refugee Centre..it's sure to be both challenging & rewarding.
Happy trails.
👣🌏
 
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