The Via Francigena, like the Camino de Santiago, is an ancient pilgrimage starting in Canterbury in England, with the route ending in Vatican City. Like its Spanish counterpart, it has been closed to pilgrims over the last months. Wonderful news for all pilgrims is that both the Via Francigena and Camino routes are slowly opening to pilgrims and if you are one of those pilgrims in countries where you are able to travel there are some regulations and safety precautions that you need to be aware before you hit the trail.

Camino de Santiago

As an example, the Santander Central Hostel has posted an informative video on their Facebook page, which outlines a few extra steps that albergues have been required to take, prior to opening their doors to pilgrims. Notably, their new policy is that there is twice the space with half occupancy. I have no opinion of what that might mean for pilgrims en route since at the time of writing, there is no indication of the numbers of pilgrims currently on the trail, but it is good to take note of this new stance, by hospitelero’s.

In addition, you will not find albergues providing towels to pilgrims. While I never encountered this luxury, and I carried my own on my pilgrimage, please take note to ensure that you are carrying a quick-dry lightweight towel. My recommendation is to also take a sleeping bag or inner (weather depending) since you might find that blankets will not be available.

For more information check out their website at: http://www.santandercentralhostel.com/The_Hostel.html

Via Francigena

For the remainder of this year, and until further notice, it is mandatory to book your accommodations in advance of traveling and heading onto the route. This particular route is not as well supported as the Camino de Santiago routes, so this is probably not a big issue. My plan would have been to do exactly that, pandemic or not.

Backpacks, boots and hiking accessories will have designated areas to be within the hostel. While this practice is normal for your boots, backpacks were almost allowed into the sleeping area, so be prepared for changes in this regard.

Masks, gloves and hand sanitiser must be carried by all pilgrims. You will be asked to use these items within the confines of the hostel or albergue. A sleeping bag and a towel is a must have.

The manager can test your temperature and if found to be beyond the 37.5-degree mark, could forbid entry to the accommodation. Please ensure that you are healthy and that you have no pre-existing conditions that might leave you unaccommodated. I am sure that all who read this, are fully aware of the impact that travelers will have on the countries being visited, and so be very cautious. For yourself and for the people of the country you are visiting. Pilgrims are generally a very kind and thoughtful bunch of people, so this goes without saying!

Since the Via Francigena traverses three countries, France, Switzerland and Italy and starting in England be sure to check in with all authorities on any additional items.

For more information for your planning please check in to the official website of the Via Francigena at :

https://www.viefrancigene.org/en/resource/news/linee-guida-la-ripartenza-del-cammino-lungo-la-fra/

Buen Camino, Bon Voyage, Buon Viaggio and Good Journey to one an all!