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Cycling Via Francigena: Aosta to Parma

Via Francigena in Piedmont and Lombardy: Ivrea to Pavia

Overview

This section of the ancient pilgrim route Via Francigena (The Way to Rome) crosses Piedmont and Lombardy through the land of the rice fields, which from March to May when they are flooded, present a wonderful view of the “chequered sea”, in which the mountains of the Alps reflect on fine days. During other seasons, the agricultural plain is also interesting: herons and egrets will be a constant company, among the banks of the irrigation channels and the banks of the Sesia and the Ticino, the two rivers that meet along the route. This section ends in Pavia, an authentic pearl along the route of the Via Francigena with its old and artistic town centre. Food and wine enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the Panissa, a dish made from rice, sausage and beans, but also top quality meats and simple, delicious desserts, the result of recipes handed down over the generations.

Highlights

  • The charming town of Ivrea and its castle
  • The basilica of Sant’Andrea in Vercelli, an 11th-century Gothic cathedral
  • Many small villages and imposing castles
  • The historic city of Pavia
  • Great local food and wines

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ivrea

Your starting point is Ivrea: the old town centre will delight you with its fine castle and tall tower of Santo Stefano but do not miss a walk through an open-air museum of modern architecture. For the gourmands, we recommend a break to taste the Novecento cake, a chocolate cake whose recipe is jealously guarded by the town’s pastry-makers.

Day 2: Ivrea to Viverone/Roppolo | 20 km

A relaxing walking day, which lets you discover some of the small hidden jewels of the Via Francigena: you will walk under the arch of the tower of Piverone to enter its old village, developed around a road which crosses the centre, and then to see the remains of a fresco inside the “Geisùn“, the ruins of a small roofless church where two country roads cross. Finally, you will arrive in Viverone to end the day admiring the sunset along the banks of the lake.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 6 hrs
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Viverone (Hotel Royal or similar)

Day 3: Viverone to Santhià | 17 km

Today again you will walk along quiet country roads. The treat of the day is Roppolo castle, which will offer you a splendid view over Lake Viverone and the morainic amphitheatre of Ivrea. If you love good wine do not miss a visit to the cellars that are home to a collection of regional wines. The hills become gradually lower while you continue towards Santhià. There you can enjoy the tasty cuisine of the Vercelli area, with its delicious rice and meat dishes, ending on a high note with a glass of white herb liqueur.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 6 hrs
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Santhià (Hotel Vittoria or similar)

Day 4: Santhià to Vercelli | 27 km

The route winds among castles and vineyards. You will flank the fine Quart castle, with its chapel dedicated to the local saint, Emerico. Along the approaching road, you will be able to touch the semi-spherical engravings made in the rock by prehistoric people, the Coppelle, trying to imagine what they were used for, still surrounded by mystery.

  • Walking for the day: 27 km, 7 hrs
  • Accommodation: hotel in Vercelli (Hotel Cinzia or similar)

Day 5: Robbio to Mortara | 14 km

In the morning, take the train from Vercelli to Robbio along the Sesia River. From there, the countryside of the Lomellina will lead you towards Mortara, over grassy sheep tracks and wide earth tracks. You will be able to admire the old façade of the San Valeriano Monastery and the little Romanesque church of San Pietro, which once offered hospitality and comfort to the travellers walking along the Francigena: in fact, it was near here that the Hospitale was built dedicated to offering hospitality to pilgrims. If you appreciate typical specialities, in Mortara don’t miss the I.G.P. goose salami.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 4 hrs
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Mortara (Albergo Bottala or similar)

Day 6: Mortara to Garlasco | 23 km

The penultimate leg covers country roads, among woods, fields growing crops and little towns. We recommend a visit to the Abbey of Saint Albino, just outside Mortara: here ancient pilgrims used to have a stop. You also will be able to stand in prayer and in meditation before its mosaic-decorated altar and discover the history of Saint Albino, suspended between reality and legend.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km, 7 hrs
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Garlasco (Hotel I Diamanti or similar)

Day 7: Garlasco to Pavia | 25 km

The route bringing you to Pavia is particularly attractive: after a long section of countryside typical of Pavia, scattered with groups of woods and farmhouses, you will arrive at the Parco del Ticino. You can enjoy a rest in the shade of the thick woods or sunbathe on the beaches or meadows near the river, looking out for squirrels that run through the trees. Don’t stay too long, however, because Pavia awaits you with its splendid old town centre full of artistic treasures of all kinds. Mark the end of your journey with an aperitif in Piazza Vittoria, and if you enjoy sweet things, you will be interested to know that Pavia is the birthplace of the torta Paradiso, one of the most popular cakes baked by Italian grandmothers.

  • Walking for the day: 25 km, 7 hrs
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Pavia (Hotel Excelsior or similar)

Day 8: Departure

The trip ends after breakfast. Departure on your own or extra nights can be booked.

What to Expect

Accommodation

You will overnight in small, cosy and quiet 3-star hotels. 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

*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.

Meals

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 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 yellow sign with the Pilgrim symbol). We provide an APP with the route description, the maps and the 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. Piedmont is one of the coldest regions in Italy. Due to the warmer temperatures, the best time for travelling is from June to August. The warmest month is July, with average daily temperatures of 25°C-27 °C. The region Lombardy has the 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

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this holiday are Turin, Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate.

By train or bus
  • Arrival in Ivrea: From any airport, get to the closest railway station and catch a train to Ivrea. Trains are direct from Turin Porta Nuova station, whereas you will need to change in case you are travelling from Milano.
  • Departure from Pavia: Take a train to Turin or Milan, you can check on the website www.trenitalia.it

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in selected hotels in private ensuite rooms
  • 7 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)
  • 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

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and dinner, drinks and snacks
  • 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

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