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
LINKS ARE LIVE ON THE MAP. CLICK TO READ MORE.
TRAIL: VIA APPIA, ITRI
TRAIL: FOSSANOVA TO PRIVERNO
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.