This section of the ancient pilgrim route Via Francigena (The Way to Rome) crosses the flatlands of the River Po (Padania), and just like the ancient pilgrims, you will be able to cross the great river on a small ferry. You will leave from the beautiful historic city of Pavia, which is guardian to the stratified memory of the peoples who have inhabited it. Romans and Longobards prepared the ground for medieval town development, which gave shape to a splendid old town centre, in which some extraordinary religious buildings stand out. Your hike proceeds through agricultural plains as far as the Transitum Padi, the crossing point over the Po that leads to Emilia Romagna. Then you will enter one of the mythical areas of Italian food and wine, home of the Prosciutto di Parma, the culatello di Zibello, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Besides the culinary specialities, you will also be able to admire fascinating buildings such as the Cistercian abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba, and the cathedral of Fidenza, whose bas-reliefs illustrate the history of the pilgrimage.
- The historic city of Pavia
- Crossing River Po – the longest river in Italy
- Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba, founded in 1136
- Great local food
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Day 1: Arrive in Pavia
Arrive in Pavia, the medieval town with its many artistic treasures: you will be able to discover the marvels of the Roman Age, admire the sculpted altar of the Basilica di San Pietro and walk beneath the medieval towers. But the ancient beauty of Pavia conceals a young spirit, thanks to its prestigious university: the old town centre is always crowded with students and Piazza della Vittoria is the favourite meeting place for an aperitif after lessons. We recommend you follow the example, staying out late to enjoy the illuminated square.
- Accommodation: Hotel Excelsior or similar in Pavia
Day 2: Pavia to Belgioioso | 16 km
The first leg will take you across the flood plain of low Pavia, with its typical flood terraces as far as Santa Cristina, a stopping place of Sigerico, which takes its name from an ancient abbey dedicated to the Saint, unfortunately, destroyed. Along your way, you will come to the little Chiesa di San Giacomo, which will surprise you with the simple beauty of the façade. If you are lucky enough to be able to visit the interior, do not miss the cycle of frescoes dedicated to the Saint. Today’s destination is Belgioioso: every year its Medieval castle houses events and fairs of all sorts, so we suggest that you check to see if there is any when you are visiting. Take the train (not incl.) back to Pavia for an overnight.
- Walking for the day: 16 km, 5 hrs
- Accommodation: Hotel Excelsior or similar in Pavia
Day 3: Orio Litta to Piacenza | 22 km
Transfer in the morning from Pavia to Orio Litta, where you will start your walk. First, you walk along the hillside of San Colombano, dotted with vineyards, before reaching the famous Sigerico’s crossing: the Transitum Padi. You will be ferried across by an expert boatman to the other bank of the Po to enter Emilia Romagna, a land of great hospitality famous for its food and wine delicacies. Along provincial roads and cycle paths, you will arrive at Piacenza. Here you will be able to taste the famous charcuterie from Piacenza, washed down with a glass of Gutturnio wine, but do not forget that Piacenza also has a splendid basilica: after admiring its octagonal tower, pass through the Porta del Paradiso (Gate to Heaven) to discover the Romanesque interiors of the church and the 17th-c. frescoes.
- Walking for the day: 22 km, 6-7 hrs
- Accommodation: Hotel Euro Hotel or similar in Piacenza
Day 4: Piacenza to Fiorenzuola | 32 km
After a first section along the Via Emilia, today’s leg will take you along a series of country roads towards Fiorenzuola, a town rich in history, with churches and buildings that are worth a visit: you will be able to admire the façade of the church of San Fiorenzo and the oratory of Caravaggio.
If you think that this stage may be too long for you to walk, you can make it shorter by taking brief stretches by public transport.
- Walking for the day: 32 km, 9 hrs
- Accommodation: Agriturismo Battibue or similar in Fiorenzuola
Day 5: Fiorenzuola to Fidenza | 23 km
Today’s quiet, flat leg will take you to Fidenza, where the walk will end in the beautiful Piazza del Duomo: along the way, do not miss a visit to the Cistercian abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba. If you aren’t yet ready to reach your destination point, you can stand in thought for a few minutes in the silence of the cloisters or admire the carved wooden interiors of the church, before continuing your walk. If you like folk traditions, get someone to tell you the story dedicated to the ciribiciaccola, the name of the tower of the Abbey in dialect.
- Walking for the day: 23 km, 6 hrs
- Accommodation: Hotel Astoria or similar in Fidenza
Day 6: Departure
The trip ends after breakfast. Departure on your own or extra nights can be booked.
What to Expect
You will stay in small, cosy, quiet 2-star and 3-star hotels and agriturismo*. All rooms have private en-suite facilities. The places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Click to view default hotels
- Hotel Excelsior (Pavia)
- Hotel Euro Hotel (Piacenza)
- Agriturismo Battibue (Fiorenzuola)
- Hotel Astoria (Fidenza)
*What is an agriturismo? A combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian – It is a farm-stay, but it’s also much, much more. Typically, an agriturismo is an independently-owned farm that the owners have decided to use partially for accommodation purposes, in a way similar to English or American bed and breakfasts. One of the best parts of staying in a traditional agriturismo? The food. An Italian agriturismo will usually serve guests food that was prepared from raw materials – vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, and often wine and olive oil – produced on the farm or from other local merchants.
**Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on each day. Packed lunches can be pre-ordered at the accommodations, or you can buy food from the village shops. Throughout the trip, there are plenty of opportunities to taste both the great local food and wines. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or in the town where you stay overnight.
Difficulty & terrain
The route is quite easy due to the low differences in height. A good level of fitness is required for enjoying the walks to the maximum (read more about difficulty grades). The whole itinerary is mostly on paths and gravel roads (strade bianche), even if you will find some sections on asphalted roads. Some walks are quite long but can be shortened by taking local buses. The whole itinerary is well marked by the Official signs of the Via Francigena (white-red markings and a yellow sign with the Pilgrim symbol). We provide an APP with the route description, maps and practical daily organisation. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. You can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.
When to go
You can start your holiday every day from the beginning of April until the end of October. The region Lombardy has a Mediterranean climate prevailing. The summers are hot and dry, and the temperature is mild in the winter. The best time to visit the region is from May until September when you will have a pleasant or warm temperature and little rainfall. May and September are the most pleasant months for travelling, with average daily temperatures of 20°C-25°C. The warmest month in Lombardy is July, with an average maximum temperature of 29°C. Emilia Romagna has a humid subtropical climate that is mild, and constantly moist. Summers are hot and muggy with thunderstorms, with average high temperatures of 29°C-31°C in July and August. During May, June and September, you are most likely to experience good days with pleasant average temperatures of 20°C-25°C.
Click to view travel options
By train or bus
- Arrival in Pavia: From any airport, reach the central railway station and take a train to Pavia, you can check on the website www.trenitalia.it
- Departure from Fidenza: You can reach Bologna, Milan, Bergamo, Turin and Verona by train.
- 5 nights in selected hotels in private ensuite rooms
- 5 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers on all walking days (1 piece per person up to 20 kg with sizes 60x50x40 cm; each additional item should be paid)
- Private transfer from Pavia to Orio Litta on Day 3 at 09:00 h
- Mobile App with the route description to follow on the smartphone, the maps, the practical organization day-by-day, the Pilgrim’s passport and the QR code (no paper documents will be provided)
- 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches and dinner, drinks and snacks
- Ferry tickets and other local transport
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Local tourist tax, transport & entry fees (payable on the spot)
- Personal expenses
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme
Options, extras & supplements
- Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights