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Via Francigena or Via de la Plata again?

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#1
Hi,

I am thinking of either walking the Via de la Plata - my favourite camino - a second time (aiming to reach Santiago in the holy year 2022) or of doing the Via Francigena to Rome in two stages of at about 2 weeks. Any suggestions for that?

How is the Via Francigena compared to the Via de la Plata (distances? people?). On my last caminos I averaged 25 to 27 km a day, walked 30 km plus on subsequent days and have no problem with distances up to 35 km occasionally.

I do not have to walk in sight of other pilgrims the whole day, but it is important to me to reunite with other pilgrims in the albergue in the evening. Is it useful to know some Italian? I have started a language course recently and hope that I will learn enough to be able to articulate my pilgrim needs within the next year.

BC
Alexandra
 

sulu

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ronces-SdC (03-04/10);Oporto-SdC (10/2011); VdlP via Portugal 03/04 2012/2013;Part Invierno 2012; Toulouse to Sarrance 2012; Ingles to Muxia June 2013 Cami Catala and Aragones 2014; El Salvador & Primitivo 2014; Camino de Madrid 2016; Levante 2015,2017
#2
Hi! You don't say what time of the year you are intending to walk or where you are planning to start.
The Via Francigena starts in Canterbury and takes about 3 months, give or take a bit. I've only walked from Reims to Aosta, I did it in September and didn't meet anyone till the last day but it was the best camino I have ever done. I may return to Aosta next March and walk as far as Lucca, about 3 weeks. In Italy it looks like it will not be a problem to walk days of about 25kms, but if you are happy to pay for hotels and B&B I'm sure you can walk as much or as little as you want.
Some language is always good, the more the better, probably the ability to understand the answers to the simple questions is the most important!
i did the VdlP over a couple of years and again in March/April and mostly I had company in the Albergues, but not always, a lot depends on the weather. I enjoyed the VdlP very much but the Francigena that I have done was wonderful.
Good luck with your planning,
Sulu
 
#3
It sounds as if you are thinking starting the VF at the St Bernard Pass or after and walking in Italy. If so I think you will find the stage lengths and number of pilgrims similar to the VdlP.

Both routes have some great towns on the way, flat dull plains and mountains.

St Bernard to Rome is about 42 days. It is about 28 days from Piacenza and although starting from there you would miss the Alps you would hit the Apennines quite soon.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#4
I would opt to do the VdlP again....The Italian routes did not have the same feel to me.
This is, of course, just my personal feeling and experience and I know many people who would post just the opposite.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#5
Hi,
Is it useful to know some Italian?
Hi! Yes it is. You need to book ostellos a day or so ahead (not because there is any rush or too many pilgrims, just to let the hospitaleros know to expect you. They might also tell you where to collect the keys and where to leave them etc).
Learn the numbers (for the dates) and a few key phrases.
Alternatively, someone else could do it for you?
:)
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#6
Yes, your´re right. I want to start somewhere in Italy because I do not feel comfortable walking alone for most of the time which I expect when starting in Germany. Besides that, Switzerland is really expensive and I am also not very fond of the Alpes. So probably from Aosta or Pavia onwards. I met so many nice people from Italy on my caminos, that I think I might enjoy walking there.

I did some parts of the VdP in spring, others in autum. Every time of the year has its merits.

BC
Alexandra
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#7
Yes, your´re right. I want to start somewhere in Italy because I do not feel comfortable walking alone for most of the time which I expect when starting in Germany. Besides that, Switzerland is really expensive and I am also not very fond of the Alpes. So probably from Aosta or Pavia onwards. I met so many nice people from Italy on my caminos, that I think I might enjoy walking there.

I did some parts of the VdP in spring, others in autum. Every time of the year has its merits.

BC
Alexandra
Yes, I walked the English and French parts of the VF and didn’t meet ANYONE else on that stretch. (July to beg. Aug 2014). I didn’t have time to walk the Swiss part (beautiful but I knew that part of the world well already and besides, as you say, it is very expensive!)
I loved the VF in Italy (July/August 17). I found it harder than the VdlP, probably because of the weather: temperatures were even hotter than VdlP in June... (in the 40s instead of 30s).
It is very different from the Spanish caminos, different feel to it, as @grayland said....
I’d say....Try it! :cool:
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
#8
For me, the best part of Via Francigena would be walking through the Alps. I've become more interested in the Tour du Mont Blanc rather than another camino.

-Paul
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
#9
If I had the choice I would do the VF in a heartbeat.....but it sounds like YOU might be happier on the VdlP (unless you can find someone who would walk at the same time or you choose a “busy” time)
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#10
If I had the choice I would do the VF in a heartbeat.....but it sounds like YOU might be happier on the VdlP (unless you can find someone who would walk at the same time or you choose a “busy” time)
There are people walking the VF in Italy even in the hottest season.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
#11
I am not one for going back, and the lure of something new is always appealing. We have only done a few short stages on the VF, part of Scott trying to convince me to do it (like you I wasn't that keen on the alps). Walking in Italy was different, but I think it was more to do with that we did short stages rather then the weeks and weeks that get you into the zone on the Camino.

Having said that, I am about to go back and rewalk the Vdlp. Do your research and pick the route that calls to you most.
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
The Frances from Pamplona and part VF, first-aid helper and hospitalera
#12
Hi Via2010 -

I walked around half the Italian part of the VF - Aosta to Villafranca in Lunigiana - last September/October with an Australian friend, Sally, and it was all absolutely beautiful. The VF has its own sacred magic which really stays with you.

The downside for me, due to an old leg injury which limits what distances I can sensibly walk each day, were the longer daily stages but for a person with no problems the stages are fine. I also found some of the mountain paths very difficult - narrow tracks and nothing to hang on to and with sheer drops to one side, made even more dangerous as I was walking with my hiking trailer, Spot, who is wider than some of the tracks were. At one stage we had to turn back and find the cycle route. The next day we met a French couple who had found the mountain paths too challenging for them so they were following the cycle route all the way to Rome - a good tip to bear in mind. Sadly my old injury flared up and I had to leave the VF in Tuscany while Sally continued on to Rome.

The pilgrim accommodation infrastructure isn't as good as in Spain though you will always find somewhere to stay if you book ahead for a day or two. The ostellos run by churches/the local municipal authorities were occasionally very run down and dirty and our experience was that we needed to phone ahead to organise our places - fair enough.

Here's an example:

IMG_4401.JPG

The food was wonderful! Each night we had a wonderful meal - so delicious - not one bad meal in three and a half weeks. There were plenty of supermarkets and small shops, bars etc. so we were never hungry. There were plenty of water fountains in the part I walked with Sally and it was a delight to fill our bottles with the icy cold fresh water (see photo).

IMG_4908.JPG

The Cicerone guide to the Italian part of the VF, written by Alison Raju, was an excellent guidebook. The title is "The Via Francigena Canterbury to Rome - Part 2". I suggest that you download the book and read it thoroughly before you make your final decision. Also do some research into the cycle route - this could help on those days where you might want to avoid the mountain goat tracks!

Buen Camino for which ever choice you make - take joy in every step.

Cheers from Oz - Jenny

PS - we met very few pilgrims when we walked - very quiet. Practically no one during the day and sometimes at night we were by ourselves.
 
Last edited:

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#13
Hi,
I went to the local bookstore this noon, looking into the guidebooks available both for VdP and VF. I can not make up my mind yet.

On VdP I know roughly what to expect as I walked it with my parents in 2008-2010. Nothing much has changed since then, though it will be a different experience walking it on my own.

On VF they only have one guidebook in german, the yellow "outdoor" which lists lots of accomodation, but does not suggest daily stages. It seems that there are many possiblilities where one could stay, but some of them pricy and not especially adressed to pilgrims. To me it seemed impossible to figure out, what stages I should plan. Much is depending on the profile and the conditions of the path. It could be anything between 20 km (mountains, steep & graveled path) and 35 km (almost flat, farm-tracks). Another german guidebook ("Rother") will be published next January. Guess I will wait for that to see what they suggest.

It also depends on how my Italian language skills will develop until next spring.

BC
Alexandra
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#14
Hi,

seems that the VF is not calling me yet. Bought a book written by a lady from Switzerland, who walked the italian section of the VF in 2013. Though she is an experienced walker and used the yellow german guidebook she got lost several times. Seems that much walking is along busy streets or on tarmac. It also seems that either you meet no fellow pilgrims all day or you will have to face albergues being "completo".

So I might start the Via de la Plata again 2019. I am still looking for a time-slot of three weeks which would enable me to do it half-way (Sevilla-Salamanca) but due to work and Family it is unlikely that I will be able to start before the end of May or the beginning of June.

BC
Alexandra
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
#15
according to various reports the waymarking is very improved since 2016 when the path has also been moved away from main roads to country roads, tracks and paths. this also means it's longer. there is probably still a good amount of tarmac because the regions VF passes through are well populated.
 

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