Walking Via Francigena

Nicole B. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

This week at SYA Italy, we learned about the Via Francigena and on Thursday, we walked part of it. Via Francigena is the path that dedicated Christians walked on that lead to Rome. The pilgrimage starts in London, stretches across Spain, France, Switzerland, all the way down the spine of Italy, and ends in Rome. Finally in Rome, those devoted believers would get a certification in Italian, un credenziale, from the officials of the church and would officially be recognized for walking at least 100 km. Many people from all over Europe would do this because walking on this path would have been a dangerous journey back then, so by participating, it would wash away their sins, or peccati, and earn the forgiveness of God.

Our journey, which was about 10 km, was a very peaceful and fun one. Our teachers at SYA Italy challenged us to either speak Italian or to not speak at all for the entire walk. I was very nervous at first, expecting to be a silent day for me. But with the help of my friends and teachers, I struggled but succeeded to make sentences. I think everyone had improved their Italian with this exercise.

Throughout our physical journey from the center of Viterbo to the Terme di Papi, we passed fields of vegetables, sheep, horses and mountains, caves, hills, forests, and medieval artifacts. The sun was shining and the sky was clear and it was just warm enough for us to feel the sunshine on our skin. It was a beautiful day and we were all able to enjoy the countryside of Viterbo.

And for making it to the end of this journey, our reward was visiting the Terme di Papi. A terme is a hot spring, and it is known by Viterbese and tourists for its healing properties. Many students swam in the hot pool and some lounged on chairs, taking advantage of the sun.

It was a peaceful end to a lovely day of learning, eating, and being a pilgrim.

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