Via Francigena Stage 40 Montefiascone to Viterbo
Via Francigena stage 40 is an easy 18 km walk. There is a steep descent for about 6 km through the streets of Montefiascone and then the ancient Via Cassia Antica. For the next 6 km it is an easy level walk through fields and meadows surrounded by panoramic views. Then there is a welcome break at the ancient pilgrim Bagnaccio Baths! After a refreshing rest it is another 5 km to Viterbo cemetery. And finally after 1 km enter Viterbo through Porta Fiorentina.
Via Francigena Stage 40 departs from the gardens of the Rocca dei Papi. Rocca is the Italian word for ‘fortress’. It was built in 1262 by Pope Urban IV as his summer residence. Then it became a refuge for papal legates. Eventually it became a real fortress. With your back to the fortress there is a flight of stairs to the left. Admire the amazing views of Lake Bolsena. Then head down the stairs and begin walking Via Francigena Stage 40 from Montefiascone to Viterbo!
Visit the monument to the pilgrim and join them in admiring the panoramic vistas! Then follow in the footsteps of pilgrims past along the cobbled lanes of Via Della Rocca. Leave the city through Porta di Borgheriglia and cross the road to the belvedere and your last glimpses of Lake Bolsena! Then follow the Via Francigena signs that lead to the Via Cassia Antica.
Via Cassia Antica
The Via Cassia Antica is still in very good condition despite its 2000 years! Walk through history along these well preserved ancient Roman roads. The paving is still in very good condition thanks to the extraordinary road building skills of the ancient Romans. The ancient flagstones (basoli) are still sitting right where the Romans placed them.
Follow the ancient via Cassia Antica for about 6 km through olive groves, forest and tiny towns! Towards the end you encounter the only hill along the way. But the panoramic views and rest are worth the uphill walk! You can see all the way back to Montefiascone and Viterbo on the horizon!
The next 6 kilometres take you through more fields and pastures. Although there is little shade along the way, the surrounding panoramas make up for it. Even so, it is a pleasure to arrive at the ancient Bagnaccio Baths. These thermal baths have welcomed pilgrims and travellers for centuries. In fact, today they still welcome pilgrims with a stamp in your Via Francigena passport. The good news is that you can have a swim or enjoy some tasty Italian food from the bar.
The waters of the Bagnaccio springs have been know since antiquity with the name ‘Aquae Passeris’. Thermal baths are said to have healing qualities and they are certainly welcome for the weary feet! The warm thermal waters are about 63 degrees celsius. They are weakly alkaline and sulfurous. All this goes together to create a very soothing and relaxing experience.
The Home Stretch to Viterbo
After a refreshing break at Baggnacio Baths it is time for the last stretch to Viterbo. The roads are long and straight with little shade, but the beauty of the surrounding countryside lifts the spirit. Especially the distant views of the Cimini mountains on the approach to Viterbo.
As the Cimini Mountains draw closer it is a shock to the system to encounter civilisation again. And for the last kilometre there is a stretch along busy roads before entering the city walls of Viterbo. This civilized section begins at the Viterbo cemetery and then along a series of roads. Then all is quiet again as we enter a beautiful garden which leads to Porta Fiorentina and the city of Viterbo!
This completes our Via Francigena stage 40 Montefiascone to Viterbo walk. So stay tuned for Via Francigena Tours next edition and find out why Viterbo has earned the nick-name ‘The City of Popes’! Also, for your walk through Lazio read about Stage 38 Acquapendente to Bolsena and Stage 39 Bolsena to Montefiascone.