Monteriggioni is one of the cities along the route of the ancient Via Francigena. In medieval times the practice of pilgrimage was important: as a matter of fact many pilgrims travelled on foot across Europe in order to reach the three main sites of Christianity: Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela. According to the place that the pilgrim had reached as a proof of completion of his journey, he wore a specific emblem: the shell for Santiago de Compostela, the palm for Jerusalem and the key or images of the saints for Saint Peter in Rome. In particular the shell became the symbol of the pilgrimage.
The Via Francigena or Franchigena or Francesca is so called because Italy was linked to the France through this way. The medieval road is 1600 km long. Pilgrims came from the via Tolosana which led to Santiago de Compostela or from the Northern Europe and in particular from the Alps and across the pass of Monginevre.
Sigeric, Archibishop of Canterbury, wrote one of the first books about the pilgrimage along the Via Francigena. He described his return journey: between 990 and 994 he covered the distance from Rome to Canterbury.
The Via Francigena was an important road until 1300, when people were not interested in pilgrimage any longer and then in the medieval roads of pilgrimage.
Nowadays there are not many signs to mark its position, unlike the road to Santiago de Compostela. Moreover, there are not many houses for the pilgrims, even if more and more parishes or religious houses or private can house pilgrims.
Advices for the equipment
In the Middle Ages the pilgrim, before leaving, was “invested” by the blessing of the priest and he received some useful objects for his long journey. Among these objects there were the saddlebag, a small bag made from the skin of an animal, the walking stick, the “petaso”, a broad- brimmed hat, and a short cloak, the “pellegrina”.
Moreover before leaving, the pilgrim confessed his sins and made his will. The pilgrim respected some rules even in his journey: he travelled during the day and he slept by night and he could not stay in the same place for more than two days.
In general the pilgrims must take a rucksack which weighs not more than 8- 10 Kg (17,64 lb- 22,05 lb), a sleeping bag and a soft mat. Moreover, do not forget that foot must stay very comfortable, so take both trainers or sneakers and climbing boots, because you walk both across roads and paths. HAVE A NICE JOURNEY!
Exhibition concerning the Sienese route of the Via Francigena
In the crypt of the Church “Santa Maria Assunta” inside the castle of Monteriggioni a permanent exhibition has been presented about the”Via Francigena ” with particular attention to the Sienese area. The exhibition was realized by the Italian architects Coppini and Della Torre, which made pilgrimage in 2005.
for more information about the Via Francigena we suggest pilgrims to ask a credential to their dioceses or to their confraternities and/or for more information contact the “Confraternita di San Jacopo di Compostella” in Perugia.