Walking among the alleys of San Miniato sometimes it’s possible to come across intrepid walkers who, with a large backpack on their shoulders, are about to cross the medieval village to then reach the hills behind San Miniato and continue their journey: they are the pilgrims who walks along the Via Francigena, a famous road that is crossed every year by thousands of people from all over Europe to reach Rome!
The name “Francigena” derives from the road that from France allowed pilgrims to arrive in Rome to pray on the tomb of St. Peter and then continue, if they wanted, towards Jerusalem, the final destination of the journey. The first data about its existence date back to the 9th century, but it is around the 10th century that a more detailed description was obtained thanks to the bishop Sigerico, the one who, returning from Rome for his investiture, documented the stages of the Via Francigena until in Canterbury, England.
Obviously over the centuries this path has branched out in other places to cross as the pilgrims had to adapt also to the seasons, to the political situations of the various regions and to the religious beliefs linked to the relics of the saints. Subsequently, these routes also became a commercial route linking the Orient to Northern Europe.
To date, the Via Francigena is one of the most traveled roads in Europe and the Italian section, which from the Gran San Bernardo reaches Rome, is almost 945 km long and the intrepid walkers can find along the route information signs, various objects for cooking food and first aid kit.
In San Miniato the pilgrim is always welcomed and you can recognize which shops or hotels have an agreement thanks to a sign that says “Benvenuto Pellegrino” in all languages!
San Miniato is part of the path of the Via Francigena: