The first stage of the Italian Via Francigena starts in the Swiss village of Bourg St Pierre – The Gateway to Italy. Hike through the high mountain pass of Great St Bernard into Italy. This route has been walked by pilgrims for centuries as well as the invading armies of Napoleon and The Romans before them. The hike is steeped in history with gorgeous views over an amazing landscape.
This is the first stage of the Via Francigena, the Pilgrim Route to Rome. Spectacular alpine scenery and the Colle del San Bernardo, the highest point of the whole Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. The itinerary crosses the Valle d’Aosta from north to south-east and passes through villages and towns founded during the Roman Empire and castles and fortresses, like Castle Verrès and Castle Fènis, constructed as defence against invaders. 7 nights.
Price: £650.00 per person based on 2 people sharing.
Single supplement: £135.00. Solo walker £70.00
Dinner on 5 nights £130.00 per person
Luggage transfers £160.00 (2 bags, not weighing more than 20 kilo per bag).
Terrain: Total distance 115 kms/72 miles. Paths 40%, white roads 30%, secondary asphalted roads 30%. Trekking Altitude: Between 345 and 2,500 m, average daily times 4h to 7h30m. Positive difference in height between 35 and 850 mt per day.
Departures: This tour can start any day of the week between June and October. Weather conditions can change so ask if you want another date.
Number of participants: Minimum 2 – experienced solo travellers please ask.
Getting to Bourg St. Pierre:
Nearest airport (160 kms) – Geneva.Nearest train station – Orsieres (14 km from Bourg St Pierre).
Bus takes 30 minutes. Time tables at www.sbb.ch/fr/.
Departure from Pont Saint Martin: Nearest train station: Pont Saint MartinNearest airport: Turin – Caselle (68 km), Milano Malpensa (121 km), Milano Linate (155 km)
Day 1: Bourg Saint Pierre
The starting point of the tour is Bourg-St-Pierre, a Swiss village that is at the door of Italy and rich in history as the ancient buildings, restored mill and numerous traces of the passage of the travellers testify. History and legend join in this place where it is easy to imagine the troops of the Roman Empire and later the troops of Napoleon that passed from the Colle del San Bernardo. 11.45km.Altitude at departure: 1632 m above sea level
Day 2: Bourg Saint Pierre to Colle Del San Bernardo
This stage has a mainly symbolic nature as it will lead you to the Colle del San Bernardo, the highest point between Canterbury and Rome therefore of the whole Via Francigena. Mule tracks and paths bring you to the famous Hospice at on the Colle del Gran San Bernardo where San Bernardo di Mentone laid, more than 1000 years ago, the first stone. Altitude at arrival: 2473 m above sea level – 13.00 km – 5h
Day 3: Colle Del San Bernardo to Etroubles
Today’s stage begins among the amazing mountain scenery of the Colle del Gran San Bernardo, and runs almost completely on a path that crosses St. Rhémy en Bosses, where the valuable raw ham of Bosses is produced, before arriving, between fields and woods, at the village of Etroubles, the former capital of the Gran S. Bernardo Valley in ancient times. It was the winter residence of the border garrison and is where Napoleon stopped during his descent into Italy. Altitude at arrival: 1270 m above sea level – 13 km – 4h
Day 4: Etroubles to Aosta
The leitmotif of this stage are the ‘Rus’, water canals that decisively contributed to the development of agriculture in these areas. Walk along these canals before the steep descent towards the city of Aosta, which has many legacies of its Roman past the Porta Praetoria, the Theatre and some stretches of the walls. The medieval cathedral rise on the remains of a IV century Domus Ecclesiae. Altitude at at arrival: 580 m above sea level – 16 km – 4h30
Day 5: Aosta to Chambave
From Aosta the itinerary continues up the Valley, between wine groves and castles, across the Chemins de Vignobles. Following an irrigation canal you arrive at the XII century Castel’ Quart and then Castel’ Nus, while in the valley bottom you can see the Castel’ Fénis, residence of the Challant family. Arrive for overnight at Chambave, a little town of the Mountain Community of Monte Cervino. Notable are the Church of San Lorenzo with Romanesque bell tower and all around the renowned Muscat wine groves.Altitude at the arrival: 470 m above sea level – 25.50 km – 7h30
Day 6: Chambave to Verres
Walking along a panoramic path you pass over the basins of Chatillon and Saint-Vincent to reach Verrès, located on the banks of the Evançon. The Castel’ Verrès is an example of gothic fortress, cubic in shape and with walls two metres thick, reachable only on foot and along a mule track. Altitude at arrival: 370 m above sea level – 27 km – 7h15
Day 7: Verres to Pont Saint Martin
This last stage is rich in fascinating items: the XI century Benedictine Church of San Martino at Arnad; the splendid XVIII century bridge of Echallod and the medieval bridge and the huge Fortress of Bard. Finally, the Strada delle Gallie (street of Gauls), with much of its original paving, and the Roman bridge of Pont St. Martin. Altitude at arrival: 345 m above sea level – 20 km – 6h30
Day 8: End of Tour
After breakfast end of the tour or continuation to Ivrea if you have booked one more week tour.
Etroubles: Hotel Beau Sejour www.hotel.beausejour.it
Aosta Hotel Cecchin: www.hotelcecchin.com
Chambave Agritourisme La Vrille: www.lavrille-agritourisme.com
Verres Relais St Gilles: www.relaisstgilles.com
Pont S Martin Hotel Crabun: www.crabunhotel.it