Copyright 2018 Do Cartwheels with Me 

Italian Wonder Ways

At the invitation of Italian Wonder Ways and a consortium of the Italian regions of Lazio, Tuscany, Umbria,

and Marche, I, together with 90+ other bloggers and journalists, explore the pilgrim paths of Central Italy.

For seven days, we explore historic sites, medieval castles, churches, and towns that line the routes

pilgrims take towards and around Rome.  Think the Italian version of the Santiago de Compostela route.

In the process, we will get intimate with Italian culture and traditions by way of food and gastronomy.  

I may or may not divulge if there were any sort of shenanigans, because after all,

this is a press tour of utter official importance, but if there are copious amounts of excellent

local wine served from noon on, you cannot entirely put the blame on the poor pilgrim.

 

WHAT ARE THE ITALIAN WONDER WAYS?

Italian Wonder Ways is a network of trails in central Italy that have been inspired by

holy people such as Saint Francis of Assisi.  They criss-cross through places of

natural beauty that evoke meditation, but also through small towns and villages

that would otherwise be unheard of.  For this project, all the roads converge in

Rome, with the culminating with a Papal Audience with Pope Francesco

at the Vatican.

where did i walk?

I did the "Via Francigena Nel Sud del Lazio" trail which started on a small coastal

village called Formia 100 miles south of Rome and crept its way north.  Along the

way, we were introduced to many tiny Italian villages, some of which are just the

type you had always dreamt of visiting if only for its photogenic appeal.  In

typical Italian fashion, there is a page out of Italy's history book at every turn,

crumbling walls, hilltop castles.  It was Italy like I've never experienced before.

I'm an avid hiker and I don't shy away from altitude, so in the true "hiking" sense,

I found myself wanting more - but it was a good introduction to the possibilities

of the area nonetheless.  

why should you explore the italian wonder ways?

 

The Italian Wonder Ways is truly an excellent way of connecting with

the culture and beauty of the Italian countryside sans the madness of

big cities full to the brim with a crush of tourists.

If authenticity is what you seek, I could guarantee you that there are countless

town squares in the Italian countryside that line the Italian Wonder Ways route

that is just filled with the vibrancy of real Italian life.  You could sit (perhaps noticeably

since you might just be the only camera-toting tourist around) at a cafe and watch

Italian life unfold before you.  Old men, still vibrant, smoke cigar, huddle around

and/or play cards.  Stray cats walk past.  The church bells clang.  An old couple 

stroll by, arm in arm, dressed as though its Sunday (they always dress like this).  

A Vespa zooms by.  The walls echo with people having telephone conversations

somewhere.  If you end up walking along farms, there is likelihood that 

you will come across a swarm of sheep and goats.

I have always viewed travel as sacred, and that perhaps comes with growing up in

a third world country where opportunities for travel during my time was, if not

absent, extremely limited.  And despite having more access to traveling the world

now than ever, I still believe that travel - regardless of how big or small - is always

a pilgrimage.  Aren't we all looking for something?  When we travel, aren't we

all in some sort of search for meaning and significance, some answers and solace,

some measure of redemption or salvation?  

 

As travelers, aren't we all just pilgrims,

even in the end, the only thing you find is yourself?

DISCOVER ITALIAN WONDER WAYS: VIA FRANCIGENA SUD

 FORMIA 

 TERRACINA 

 LINKS ARE LIVE ON THE MAP. CLICK TO READ MORE.

 TRAIL: VIA APPIA, ITRI 

 TRAIL: FOSSANOVA TO PRIVERNO

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more information about italian wonder ways

The Project:  Italian Wonder Ways Organization, link here.  See also Umbria Francesco's Ways, link here.

The REGION:  The Official Office of Tourism of Lazio Region, link here

VIA FRANCIGENA DEL SUD:  Official website here, or contact Marco Aguiari, Presidente, at comitatoviafrancigenadelsud@gmail.com

LAZIO REGIONAL PARKS:  Life Go Park, link here

mountain/hiking guide in aurunci mountains, southern lazio:  Daniele Ruggieri, info here

Full Disclosure:  Although my trip to the Italian Wonder Ways was sponsored by the Italian Wonder Ways Organization and Visit Lazio, all opinion is my own.