La Via Francigena

European Council Cultural Itinerary p.g. XXIII

“The time of pilgrimage is the present age, in which we are like pilgrims in battle”: This is what (in the XII century) Jacopo da Varazze expressed revealing the medieval Christian concept of life as a trip toward salvation, studded with snares, difficulty and clashes.

The medieval man therefore always felt like a “pilgrim” on this earth, but he often became a real pilgrim travelling toward the principle places of Christian faith: Jerusalem, Rome, St.Jacopo of Compostella.

Medieval Europe was therefore crossed by a network of roads dotted with sanctuaries, chapels, hospitals and shelters, where the pilgrim could make stops during his long and difficult trip. The Francigena road (or road originating in France) a pilgrim’s road among the most important that linked Northern Europe to Rome, it passed through the Valico of the CISA and, after having touched Pontremoli and Aulla, reached our province in the inhabited places of Santo Stefano, Sarzana and Luni, then advancing into Tuscany.

From the XI century on the Francigena road was also called the Romea road or “strata qui dicitur Romea” referring to one of the principle destinations of medieval pilgrims: Rome.

The Lower Magra Valley crossed by this great artery, constituted in the Middle Ages an important road junction: from the Francigena in fact numerous secondary roads branched off that reached the Vara Valley and the coastal inland, up to Genoa. In the Gulf there were non-secondary landings in Portovenere and Lerici, besides the fluvial port of St.Maurizio.

For the celebration of the Jubilee, the APT wanted to travel over that ancient Francigena road and its branches in the provincial territory again, and it has been done with a pilgrim’s eye, pausing to draw attention on its structures, churches, monuments more or less notable, that characterized the route towards the salvation of our ancestors.
Courtesy of APT Cinque Terre