Beyond my participant fee, what other costs am I likely to need to cover?
Your registration fees cover all ground transportation after your arrival at the time and place of our start, as well as your overnight accommodations, and baggage service (maximum of 40lbs/18kg per person). Breakfasts are included with each overnight stay, and lunches are always on your own. Unless specified, dinner are provided at or near your overnight accommodation, but in cities a few are left for you to enjoy local eateries and get a better flavor of the village, town or city you’re in. A restaurant lunch can cost €10-15 in Europe, and a sack lunch of bread, cheese and fruit can be as little as €5 or less depending on your choices. Tips to your tour hosts are not allowed. Other incidentals may include occasional laundromat costs, daily morning and afternoon café refreshments, toiletries as needed, and of course the beloved midday gelato stop!
What’s the schedule of an average day on a group pilgrimage?
Pilgrims are free to head out at any time, but we suggest being out the door by 8:00am. Everyone walks at their own pace, so the slower walkers among us aren’t rushed even as the fastest among us are not held back. You’ll probably want to stop around 11:00 for lunch, either outdoors with sack lunches you’ve prepared or indoors at a restaurant along the way. It’s nice to be done walking by around 2:00, when it’s time to check into your accommodation for the night, have a rest, do laundry as needed, and then branch out to explore the town’s cafes, museums, castles, churches and shops on our own. If there’s no lunch restaurant available on our itinerary for the following day you will also want to shop for food for your sack lunch. Italians seldom dine before 7:30pm, so just before you’ll have a short briefing about the next day’s adventure and then will shared a relaxed group dinner at that hour or be free to explore the local gastronomy. Afterward head to your room or enjoy conversation until you’re ready for bed. If you would like to go to Mass, let us know and we will give you times and locations of nearby churches.
Why is payment made in Euros instead of US Dollars?
Since Europe is on the Euro and our partner agencies and vendors receive payment in Euros, it works out best to pay in that currency. Also, participants are protected from exchange rate fluctuations that could occur between the time of their reservation deposit and the time of their final payment.
How difficult are these hikes, and what kind of physical condition should I be in?
The hikes have varying degrees of difficulty, from the easiest — Pamplona to Burgos — to the hardest — Florence to Assisi. For all our walks, participants should be in above-average cardio shape with no hip, knee or foot issues and should be prepared for steep uphill and downhill stretches sometimes on slippery footing. Our baggage service means packs can be very light. Still, it may be frustrating to be under-trained or physically incapable of enjoying some of the most scenic parts of these hikes.
Do you have resources to help with training for these walks?
Yes! We’re happy to be in partnership with Sheri Goodwin of Transformational Trekking who specializes in helping people train for physically challenging treks. We encourage establishing a relationship with Sheri, who has walked significant stretches of the Via di Francesco and many other pilgrimage walks, who can set you up on a training program so you can more fully enjoy your pilgrimage adventure.
I’m not sure what to bring. Will you help with packing lists?
Yes. We’ll send you a packing list so you’ll be certain to have everything you need for a successful walk. In general, you’ll need a daypack, good hiking clothing, rain gear, and most importantly a good sock/boot/shoe/sandal combination that you’ve proven will protect you from blisters. Blisters are the #1 scourge of pilgrims, so this is probably the most important preparation you’ll make. Besides your hiking gear, you’ll want to have a suitcase or duffel bag for your street clothes. Our baggage service is “lobby to lobby,” and the last steps to your room can be up twisty Italian staircases. For that reason we observe a “maximum 40 pounds (18kg)” rule on our baggage. It helps our driver and it helps you!
Do I need to study the local language in order to participate?
If you’d like, sure! However, we’re there for you and can translate for you as needed so you’re never unable to communicate.
How will I get to the starting place of the trek and return home?
Here are our recommendations for each of our itineraries:
Lucca to Siena – flights to Pisa, Milan, Florence or Rome are all possible, with train connections from each to Lucca. Closest are Pisa and Florence, which both have easy train connections.
Calais to Besançon – Fly to Paris and take the train to Calais Ville. From Besançon take the train to the Besançon-Franche-Comte station and from there to Paris.
Lausanne to Aosta – Fly to Geneva and take the train from the airport to Lausanne. From Aosta, take the train to Milan to return.
Florence to Assisi – The Florence airport (FLR) has connections from many major Western European cities. Once in Assisi, either take the train to Rome’s Fiumicino airport (FCO), or connect to your major European hub through the nearby Perugia (PEG) airport. Info on Italian trains can be found here.
Assisi to Rome – We recommend either flying to the nearby Perugia airport (PEG) or taking a train from the Rome (FCO) or Florence (FLR) airports. Info on Italian trains is here.
What if I have certain dietary restrictions?
Italy and Spain are meat-loving countries, so life for a vegan or vegetarian can be challenging. Make certain to spell out your needs on your registration form and we’ll do our best to alert kitchens to your dietary restrictions. Note that Italians love to eat bread and pasta, so gluten-free meals require advance notice. Once you share your needs with us we will communicate it to the restaurants and, when necessary, confirm it directly with the cooks themselves. Many of our participants make certain to find good, local fruit to include in their lunches since sometimes fruits and vegetables are scarce in Italian restaurant cuisine.