The Holy Road to Rome

Like a long snake, spotted with stops on the medieval map, the Pilgrim Route tracks down from the north of Italy to Rome, from whence another route heads over the Apennines for eastern ports and Jerusalem. As a European initiative project the Via Francigena, as the Pilgrim Route is also known, is currently being restored; would-be walkers attempting a twentieth-century pilgrimage can now follow long stretches of it, though it is not an easy stroll.

'There are no signposts and it's often rough', explains Melanie Gabardi, official tourist guide to the city of Parma. 'You'll need detailed maps, the proper footwear and clothes – and a pronounced will!'

Parma, set half way along the Italian section, was much visited by travellers. The recently renovated Baptistry begun 800 years ago in 1196, is of particular interest.

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