Our day ten on the Way of St. Francis from Valfabbrica to Assisi was the final leg of our journey, as we pushed ourselves to complete the pilgrimage from Biscina in one long day.
"Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned." ~ St Francis of Assisi
While this day is long and arduous, if you endure, the crown you will receive in the wonderful prize of reaching Assisi.
If you are looking for accommodation in Assisi there are so many choices! There is the brand-new pilgrim's hostel, the Hospitale Laudato Si (+39 331 122 4691), a donativo with only 10 beds. It is about 1/2 kilometer from the northern city gate and is the only pilgrim's accommodation in all of Assisi.
I placed some of the more economical choices on my map below, as well as top sites. You will enjoy this medieval wonder, for sure!
I also included on this map the alternative 2-day route through Perugia in yellow. I took this information from the Italian Via di Francesco website, if you are interested in seeing this city. Click on the link for more information.
As you can see, there is one giant hill in the middle of this stage, of almost 300 meters in elevation gain. If you combine this stage with day nine, you will feel it! Then at the end of a long day, you have a final, steep hill climb of about 130 meters, up and into Assisi. But the reward is a strong motivator, arriving in this most incredible place! Plus, hopefully, you will stay several nights in Assisi, so you can rest up. It will be worth your time.
Our ninth day ended around noon, in the center of Valfabbrica, at the Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini along the Via Roma, at this clock tower and fortification.
At the clock tower, take a right turn to walk down the Via Castellana, shown next.
Just down the hill, you pass the Sui Passi di Francesco. Have a pause and a look-back here at the fortifications. They are impressive.
A few meters onward, at the bottom of the hill, you walk up another small hill, coming to the intersection with a major road, the Via Roma. This is 130 meters from the clock tower and you will cross over to another road, the Via Osteria, continuing to walk uphill.
You will now follow the Via Osteria for about two kilometers, walking on pavement leaving Valfabbrica. About 350 meters from the clock tower, the town presents a nice row of murals, depicting the life and times of St. Francis.
At the next intersection after the murals, stay to the right at this little shrine.
Several hundred meters later, a Via di Francesco aficionado had this nice sculpture and Camino shell planter outside his home, right along the route on day ten of the Way of St. Francis from Valfabbrica to Assisi.
At about 1.8 kilometers, the Via comes to the historic buildings of the Il Pioppo area, with the building on the left showing the remnants of a tower.
Several hundred meters later, at the end of the buildings, and just before crossing a stream on a bridge, is a left hand turn for the Agriturismo Il Pioppo (+39 334 369 6948).
And at almost exactly 2 kilometers, you leave the Via Osteria and turn to the right, by a fence gate, and walk onto a nice gravel lane, shown below.
As you can see in the photo above, at the turn the Via heads downhill a bit. This is the final downhill, before the long 300 meter uphill climb of the day. The climb starts about 150 meters after the turn, as you can just see in the photo below.
This gravel lane and path, you will follow for the next 2.75 kilometers.
In places, this lane was quite muddy and full of ruts as we passed through.
Through this area, and throughout the day's walk you will see signs referencing the Sentiero Francescano Della Pace, or the Franciscan Path of Peace. This path from Assisi to Gubbio is the famous path walked in 1207 by St. Francis after he famously abandoned his possessions, clothing and money in the square of Assisi.
As is often the case on the Via di Francesco, as the lane continues, it peters out to a path.
Farther along, about 3.6 kilometers into the day, I was intrigued that someone had built these steps by the path, so I took them.
As the path steepened, the ruts deepened!
At approximately 4.79 kilometers, when you come to a T-intersection, just after the photo with the signs that say Assisi is 8.5 kilometers away, shown above, you can feel that you are coming to a top when the sky opens up. When you arrive at the top, look carefully on your right for your first glimpses of Assisi's castle on the hilltop that come into view!
By 5.48 kilometers into day ten, the Via reaches the ultimate top at this cross, the Croce Via di Francesco. It was filled with rocks and momentos, just like the Cruz de Ferro on the French Camino de Santiago. Spend a moment or two here as you need.
At 5.61 kilometers, the Via comes to a rest area and T-intersection. Assisi is less than 8 kilometers away, according to the sign. Nick is resting on the bench and Rich is at the fountain.
You turn right onto the paved road at the intersection. The road ahead is thinly traveled.
About 350 meters later, and about 6.0 kilometers total, you will come to a Y-intersection, and you stay downhill and to the right.
After you pass some farms/residences, you will come to some lovely olive groves, and views of Assisi's castle, the Rocca Maggiore, come into focus once again on day ten of the Way of St. Francis from Valfabbrica to Assisi.
And a few meters onward, there are open, unobstructed views of Assisi for the first time, with the castle at the top of the hill, and the Basilica di San Francisco dominating the skyline to the right! Wow, the goal is in sight!
At 7.0 kilometers, come to a farm, the Agriturismo Le Pieve (+39 075 819 9018), and there is a gravel lane to the left, which the Via now follows, shown below. This is the beginning of the famous Via Padre Pio. To read about Padre Pio and why he is so famous in Italy, click on the link. You will follow his Via for more than four kilometers towards Assisi!
By approximately 7.58 kilometers, you come to a T-intersection with another gravel road, where you turn right, to continue on the Via Padre Pio.
The views of Assisi seem to be ever present, in these last few kilometers on day ten of the Way of St. Francis from Valfabbrica to Assisi. The photo below was taken at about 8.o kilometers. The gravel road continues to take you on a nice descent.
At 8.75 kilometers, the Via takes a right hand turn to cross a small drainage. The turn looks like this:
From this little drainage, which is sort of an elevation low, there is a small climb out on the ongoing lane, shown below.
By approximately 9.5 kilometers, you will see the most beautiful place on your left, the Agriturismo Re Artù Assisi, nestled in a little ravine with grapevines in the front. 100 meters later, you will pass by its entrance gate. This is a little top, where the Via now continues its strong ascent.
As you make your final descent, the views of Assisi will continue to charm you!
I loved the open views of the Basilica as well as the castle as we got closer and closer.
At 11.3 kilometers, come to a T-intersection at the end of the Via Padre Pio, after following it for 4.3 kilometers and to the statue of the man himself. Make sure you circle around to the front to admire it.
After admiring the memorial to Padre Pio, turn left onto the Strada Comunale Santa Croce, where the sign says that Assisi is 2.1 kilometers away. Enjoy the nice flat walk for the next 800 meters.
By about 12.0 kilometers, you will see a large car park, and views of an ancient bridge and church. This car park announces with a sign that you are entering the Bosco di San Francesco, a newly developed "sacred" forest at the foot of Mount Subasio, and just below Assisi.
100 meters later, at the end of the car park, take the right turn onto the Via Ponte dei Galli. And as the name suggests, you will now cross the 12th century bridge, the Ponte dei Galli.
The bridge is very well preserved, along with the lovely 13th century Romanesque chapel, the Chiesa Santa Croce, on the other side. The chapel was closed when we walked by.
There is a restaurant here by the bridge, in a converted mill, the Osteria del Mulino, and it would be a lovely place to linger. But we were focused on the goal ahead, after a long day of walking.
After the chapel, your long 1.1 kilometer climb begins. Some deep breaths may be warranted, as this is a grunt at the end of a long day!
The views of the Basilica on the way up the final climb are delightful. Here is a photo of one of them.
By 12.9 kilometers, about two-thirds of the way up from the chapel, you pass by a well-placed fountain. Sure, we needed an excuse to stop to take a long drink.
At 13.2 kilometers, reach the top of your uphill climb at the medieval gate, the Porta San Giacomo, shown below. Walk through it and into the medieval center of Assisi.
Finally, saunter down the final 100 meters to the Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi.
As you saunter toward the Basilica, don't forget to look up the side streets to your left. This is an amazingly preserved, medieval town, and most likely, if you are like us, you will not walk this way again.
Right by the gate is the Via San Giacomo, that continues up the hill, with a house built over the street. Quaint indeed!
And next is the very inviting, Vicolo Santa Margherita walkway that leads to the Chiesa Santa Margherita. I would have loved to explore this walkway, but alas, I had other things on my mind!
And then, fully before you is the destination, the Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi, in all its glory. What you see at the ground level is the newer, upper cathedral, the Chiesa Superiore di San Francesco. Finally, we had arrived after 200 kilometers of walking through Tuscany and Umbria!
We were tired, but happy pellegrini! We had a kind soul snap our photos here, at the end of our pilgrimage travels.
We walked to the lower level of the basilica (Chiesa Inferiore), down the stairs and to the pilgrim's office to acquire our Testimonium, but, alas, the office was closed.
You can see in the photo below, where the "Statio Peregrinorum" or pilgrim's office is, directly across from the lower basilica's entrance, in the photo below. If you open the photo, the sign on the lower left points the way.
If you go to our Way of St. Francis Maps and Stats and Other Important Information article, and scroll down to the last section you will read how to receive your Testimonium if the pilgrim's office is closed. We decided to wait until the next day to get our certificate. We were too hungry to think about it at that moment!
We went for a late lunch before searching for our accommodation, the very economical Apartments Aurora Delle Rose in the center of the city, which I highly recommend. This place has a kitchen, a living and dining area, in addition to the bedroom. While we didn't actually cook in the two nights we were there, it was most lovely to have a hearty breakfast and coffee in the room.
If you are looking for accommodation in Assisi, please click on this Booking.com link for more options and for the current special deals.
We would tour Assisi later that evening and the entire next day. There was so much on my agenda to see! In retrospect, I wish we had stayed longer, but that certainly gives us a reason to return.
You may see more of my adventures in Assisi, by clicking on the link. Here is a taste of what Assisi has to offer, in addition to the Basilica di San Francesco. This is the Chiesa di Santa Maria Sopre Minerva, a gothic church converted from the actual, original Roman temple façade before it.
While this was our last day walking with our friend Nick, we would spend several more meals together before our departure back to Rome. Here we are on the final day, celebrating the journey with happy hour! Saluti! We were happy, successful pilgrimage travelers with our Aperol spritzes!
Today's walk definitely felt to us like a Sentiero Francescano Della Pace, a Franciscan Path of Peace. I was at peace on this day, and I know that Rich felt the same. We were at peace with the walk, peace with ourselves and at peace for our decisions. We had endured and earned our crown!
However, I must say that arriving at the Basilica di San Francesco was anti-climatic, in comparison to the arrival at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela on the Way of St. James. There are far fewer pilgrims arriving and far fewer people milling about. There is little fanfare surrounding your arrival. But it felt good, nonetheless.
And perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this pilgrimage, is that after walking 200 kilometers on the Way of St. Francis from La Verna to Assisi, we most certainly had gotten to know the saint more than what we had known of him previously.
The devout lover of nature and preacher to the birds had given us a new perspective on the meaning and simplicity of life. After our pilgrimage of following in this man's footsteps for days, we could clearly understand why he is the patron saint in Italy, and why he is so revered around the Christian world.
May your own Way of St. Francis from Valfabbrica to Assisi, allow you to wear your crown of Peace most high! You deserve it because you endured in Peace!
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Need suggestions on what to pack for your next pilgrimage? Click Here or on the photo below!
Carbon fiber construction ( not aluminum) in a trekking pole makes them ultra lightweight. We like the Z-Pole style from Black Diamond so we can hide our poles in our pack from potential thieves before getting to our albergue! There are many to choose from! ( See more of our gear recommendations! )