The Magna Via Francigena, the great road of the Frankish knights, follows the ancient route between Agrigento and Palermo that was used for millennia by pilgrims and travellers.
After centuries of oblivion, this suggestive trail has come to a new life. To walk or cycle the pilgrim route means to explore authentic Sicily at a slower pace, as people did in the past centuries, and discover the very heart of the island with its hidden gems: archaeological and natural sites as well as masterpieces of art set amidst the rugged beauty of inland Sicily.
The Magna Via covers about 180 km (112 miles) and is fragmented in 9 legs of 20-25 km (approx. 13-16 miles) each. Pilgrims can walk all or some of the stages, as they wish. The pilgrim’s route runs along paths and the so called ‘regie trazzere’ (ancient roads that followed Roman consular streets) as well as secondary roads that connect the Mediterranean coast in the south and the Tyrrhenian coast in the north.
The trail crosses three of nine Sicilian provinces, Agrigento, Caltanissetta and Palermo and passes through the countryside of Castronovo di Sicilia, set halfway between Palermo and Agrigento, where you can still experience the traditional ‘transumanza’, the migration of sheep and cows from the highlands to the lowlands.
The Magna Via runs across 13 towns that offer traditional pilgrim hospitality in churches and hostels run by non-profit organisations where you pay by donation, or private accommodation, where guests can enjoy a traditionally warm welcome by the locals at very low prices. Travellers can also choose among classic accommodation in bed and breakfasts, youth hostels, farm houses and hotels depending on the level of comfort they require. Food is an essential part of the experience and pilgrims can enjoy local dishes and genuine specialities all along their way. The best period to organize the trip is April-June or September-November, when you can enjoy a mild and sunny climate.
As a pilgrim route that lives up to its name, the Magna Via has its own credential or pilgrim’s passport as well as a final certificate. The credential grants pilgrims their special status with discounts at restaurants and hostels. Pilgrims collect stamps in their passports at each stage to demonstrate that they have walked at least 100 km to get their testimonium.
The pilgrim’s equipment should be kept as light as possible. Just prepare yourself and follow the advice of the ones who mapped out the trail: make sure you bring a light rucksack, a bit of curiosity, much flexibility and some spirit of adventure.
The Magna Via is a unique experience, out of the common touristic routes and at the same time open to anyone, hikers, tourists and explorers of all ages with a common goal: the constant search of the inner self, somewhere beyond the horizon.
Discover the Magna Via Francigena web site and its routes for Trekking, MTB or Trekking Bike.
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Nice walk to everybody!