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As briefly noted in the March 30 post, St. Patty 2022 – and the Way of St. Francis, my older brother Tom recently proposed a new adventure. (The brother I’ve had so many past adventures with.*) This September we two – along with Tom’s wife Carol – will hike, from Assisi, the 150 miles to Rome. Specifically, we three* will be hiking from Assisi to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, by way of the Via de Francesco. (In English, it’s The Way of St. Francis.)
Which will no doubt be as much fun as last September’s “hike over the daunting Pyrenees.” (From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, via the Route de Napoleón, and from there – for me – on to Pamplona and Burgos.*)
One guidebook I found was The Way of St Francis … to Assisi and Rome, by “Sandy” Brown. It said the Apennine Mountain Range is “the thick spine of the Italian peninsula,” bordering the Way of St. Francis. And that because of its “challenging topography, the Way of St. Francis is a challenging walk.” The book noted that veterans of the Camino de Santiago (like us) may compare several days walking on the Way of St. Francis “to a walk over the Route [de] Napoleón that crosses the Pyrenees. A daily climb of 500 to 1000 meters is not unusual.”
Also, “sporadic rain is assured in any season of the year.” On that note, I still have plastic shoe covers from September 2021’s Pyrenees hike. And for Pyrenees hiking in the rain, I used a cheap plastic Walmart poncho. I covered that with a black windbreaker to keep the poncho from blowing all over in the wind. The combination was both lightweight and worked well.
Finally, the Sandy Brown guidebook said the region near the Francis trail remains green pretty much year-round. And that the trail offers breathtaking views from lofty mountain ridges, along with “long walks in ancient forests.” However, it’s also important for hikers “to plan and prepare well for the challenges ahead.” Which is good advice for any such adventure.
But first I have to get to Rome, and from there to Assisi. Which means finding an affordable flight, then booking a room, then getting from Rome airport to that room, and from there getting up to meet Tom and Carol in Assisi. (They’ll be flying in before me and doing some sightseeing up in northern Italy.) Which means this post will be devoted to some initial research.
So now for that first two days in Rome, after flying in. That is, before booking a flight, I booked a room at the “Biancagiulia Bed and Breakfast near Rome Termini Station.” Because Tom and Carol will be arriving early and doing some touristy stuff up in the northern part of Italy, I’ll meet up with them in Assisi near the end of August, 2022.
Which means I have to plan on either a bus or a train from Rome, which is why I picked Biancagiulia. It’s a four or five minute walk from there to both the central bus and train stations. “Termini is also the main hub for public transport inside Rome,” not to mention several museums nearby, and a place called LET IT BEER, Roma. (“Piazza delle Crociate, 26/28, 00162 Roma.”) One reviewer said of the latter, “Hard to find, but worth it. small live music joint. was there on a sunday, not many people, but a well playing local blues band. and of course: cpold beer.”
That “cpold beer” must have been really good. As far as finding the place, I’ll do some assiduous Google-mapping before I go, just like for my May 2019 pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And how I found the BEERBAZAAR JERUSALEM my first full day there. (On Jaffa Street. See This time last year – in Jerusalem!) Anyway, after checking both options, the bus from Rome to Assisi seems preferable to the train. The price is cheap – a mere $13 – and only takes three hours or so. The only downside? A departure time of 5:30 in the morning.
I saw from the link Rome → Assisi Bus: from $12 | FlixBus | Busbud, that the bus will leave Tiburtina bus station. (Rome Forum – Tripadvisor clarifies that it’s actually the “Largo Guido Mazzoni, next to the Roma Tiburtina train station.”) As for “Let It Beer Roma,” it’s said to be a two-minute walk from the station. I won’t be stopping there at 5:00 in the morning, but I would want to check the station the afternoon before, just to make sure I’m at the right place.
Google Maps also shows that the bus will arrive, at 8:30 a.m., at the Piazza San Pietro Assisi. The town of Assisi itself is much smaller than Rome, and it’s a mere three-minute walk from the station to the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, the town’s main attraction. (For us pilgrims anyway.) Assisi spreads out more toward the southeast, and I didn’t see any McDonald’s, but there is a quaint-looking Ristorante Bar San Francesco on the way. (Francesco, not Francisco.)
So now what I have to do is find an affordable flight. The two best choices for me are Delta and Turkish Airlines. I’d prefer Delta, both to support local business and earn SkyMiles®. But the cheapest Delta “Basic” flight doesn’t give SkyMiles, and it’s also non-refundable and non-changeable. (Not without a hefty penalty anyway.) So the cheapest feasible Delta flight hovers around $1,200, but I remember seeing a Turkish Airline flight for roughly half that. (Some weeks ago, and with a seven-hour layover in Istanbul.) And by the way, I flew “Turkish” to Israel in May 2019 and was reasonably impressed with their service. In the meantime I’ll meditate on that goal of reaching the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, and from there walking the 150 miles to Rome…
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The upper image is courtesy of Way Of St Francis Pilgrimage – Image Results.
Re: The brother I’ve had so many past adventures with. They include hiking the Camino de Santiago three times, once from Pamplona, once from Porto (the Portuguese Way), and once over the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Burgos. Others include hiking the Chilkoot Trail (“meanest 33 miles in history”), canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River, from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and canoeing eight days, 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, primitive camping. (“Dig a hole and squat.”) To see more, type in the subject in the search engine above right.
Re: “We three will be hiking.” The last time “we three” hiked together was on the Portuguese Camino, from Porto – where they make Port wine – up to Santiago de Compostela. See my posts, “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino,” and Here’s that second post on the Portuguese Camino. For the hike over the Pyrenees, We Three were joined by Carol’s brother Ray.
Re: My hike over the Pyrenees, in September 2021. In 2017 Tom hiked the entire “Camino Frances,” including over the Pyrenees, but I “wussed out” and met him in Pamplona. From there we hiked and biked 450 miles to Santiago de Compostela. My “wussing out” always bothered me, but I fixed that last September, and hiked as far as Burgos. Tom then guided Ray and Carol, who’d never done the Camino Frances, “back” to Santiago. For more detail see Hiking over the Pyrenees, in 2021 – finally!
Re: Sandy Brown guide. The full cite is The Way of St Francis: Via di Francesco: From Florence to Assisi and Rome. (From Cicerone Guides, Kindle Edition), by Reverend Sanford Brown. Updates available at Book Updates-2017a (2) … cicerone.co.uk, or Cicerone Press | Guides for walkers, hikers (etc.).
A note on the difference between the bus or train from Rome to Assisi. The train arrives at Assisi’s Santa Maria Degli Angeli station. And incidentally, there’s a “McDonald’s Assisi, Viale Patrono d’Italia,” about a two minute walk from the station. (According to Google Maps.) Another note of some importance: In Italy, be sure to “validate your ticket by stamping it in the station’s validation machine after your purchase,” or be ready to pay a 40 Euro fine. (Nice to know.) Finally, my initial research indicated I would have to change stations three or four times on the train, which affected my decision. Tom noted later there was an “Omio” direct train from Rome to Assisi, which meant a later departure time, of 8:30 a.m., and no train changes. But last year I really enjoyed the early morning bus ride from Burgos to Madrid, starting off in the dark and seeing the sun slowly rise in the east…
The lower image is courtesy of Basilica Of Saint Francis Of Assisi – Wikipedia – Image Results.
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