"Europe was born of the pilgrimages"
, said the famous German writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe. A bag, made of leather or cloth, and a walking stick, the "bordone", was what the pilgrims had with them when they left for the Holy Places per excellence in the Middle Ages: Rome, Santiago and Jerusalem. Today the path of Santiago attracts people from all over the world and it is certainly the most famous pilgrimage and an unavoidable adventure for those who want to rediscover the authentic essence of spirituality.
But it is not the only one: in Italy in recent years the path of the faithful towards Rome has been rediscovered and in December 2015 the Romea Strata
was inaugurated. A project born of the initiative of the Pilgrimage Office of the Diocese of Vicenza, in collaboration with the Centro Studi Compostellani, which aims to educate the younger generation to rediscover faith, religion and culture and encourage them to know and respect their history and territory.
The Romea Strata welcomes and becomes the apostle of a new mentality, a trend that is gradually spreading, and which is defined as slow tourism: an experience that embodies the desire to discover the historical, cultural and naturalistic beauties and those of food and wine of Italy. Over 1400 kilometres of trail that connect Tarvisio to Rome, through Fucecchio (San Miniato) in Tuscany, where to get to your destination you take the Via Francigena. The Romea Strata grows and is rediscovered day by day, thanks to the collaboration of local, religious and commercial bodies that give their contribution, but the most important are the pilgrims and enthusiasts who, backpacking, travel one of the stretches or even the whole way. A request was recently made to make the Romea Strata
become a European Cultural Itinerary
, so that the whole of Europe can get to know the path.
The five directions of the Romea Strata
The eternal city, Rome, and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul were the destination of Christian pilgrims, the "romeis", who left from the North and from Eastern Europe. The starting points of the Romea Strata can be many and it was decided to divide the route into five main directions that cross five Italian regions (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany):
- From Tarvisio to Fucecchio: for those who decide to leave from the easternmost municipality of the province of Udine, in Friuli, the route to be covered is 797 kilometres to reach Tuscany through the Romea Aleman (187 km), the Annia (278 km) and finally the Nonantolana - Longobarda (332 km)..
- From Miren (Slovenia) to Fucecchio: those who come from Slovenia to get to San Miniato (Fucecchio) must walk for 704 kilometres, traveling the Romea Aquileiense (94 km) to Concordia Sagittaria, where the itinerary is reunited with the one coming from from Tarvisio.
- From Trieste to Fucecchio: another possible starting point is the enchanting Trieste. From here you cross the Romea Flavia up to Aquileia (82 km), and then cross the second line which, along the Aquileiense (59 km), the Annia (278 km) and finally the Nonantolana - Longobarda (332 km), leads the pilgrims to Tuscany (San Miniato) in 751 km.
- From Brennero to Fucecchio: the fourth itinerary starts from Romea Brennero and in 160 km you arrive in Rovereto. Here we undertake the Vicetia (140 km) which passes through the Pian delle Fugazze Pass, takes pilgrims to Vicenza and then to Montagnana where we take the Romea Annia (25 km) to Badia Polesine, where we meet the other directions and, through the Nonantolana - Longobarda (332 km), we reach Fucecchio after a journey of 657 kilometres.
- From Verona to Fucecchio: the "shortest" route, which consists of 433 kilometres, starts from the romantic Verona. For the first 76 km, up to Montagnana, you walk along the Romea Porciliana, and then you rejoin the fourth route and continue up to Badia Polesine through the Annia (25 km) and finally undertake the Nonantolana - Longobarda (332 km) up to San Miniato.
From Fucecchio, in Tuscany, Rome is reached in 365 km continuing on the Via Francigena.
Faith, culture and nature meet along the Romea Strata
The Romea Strata, in the past, was travelled by pilgrims who left from central-eastern Europe (an area now corresponding to Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria) and the Balkans. The path is a real life experience, which crosses the North East and ends in the "cradle of civilization", Rome.
A journey that winds through enchanted landscapes and sacred places, thus taking on a value, as well as spiritual, historical-cultural, enogastronomic and naturalistic: from the Alps to the Apennines, passing through rivers such as Piave, Livenza, Panaro, Po, Adige and Sile. Mountain, hill and plain alternate on the horizon of the pilgrim who is free to immerse himself in his own spirituality. In fact, there are many "spiritual lungs" that meet along the way:
- Locations dedicated to the memory of some of the most important saints of the Christian culture, like San Antonio of Padova, San Zeno of Verona or San Giacomo of Pistoia and many more.
- The sanctuaries that invoke the Marian spirituality: that of Monte Berico in Vicenza, of Barbana in the province of Gorizia, of the Madonna della Corona excavated in Monte Baldo in the province of Verona.
- The remains of two evangelists. An exceptional heritage that makes the Romea Strata truly unique: we find San Marco’s remains in the Basilica dedicated to him in Venice and in Padua, in Santa Giustina, we find those of San Luca.
In addition to sacred places, the Romea Strata also teems with history and culture: from the extraordinary Venetian villas
, among which the Palladian buildings stand out, to charming medieval villages
, passing through many stages where you can touch, as well as breathe, the traces of the pilgrims of the Middle Ages.
The TESTIMONIUM: the Romea Strata as the Way of St. James
All those who embark on a journey along the Romea Strata can request the Credential: a document where the stamps that prove the pilgrimage are applied. The official ones are the Credential
of the association "Ad Limina Petri" and that of the Cammino de Santiago. Upon arrival in Rome, moreover, you will receive the Testimonium
: a parchment that certifies the successful pilgrimage to Rome "devotionis causa" and traditionally this was very important to show that the journey had been completed and the vote dissolved.
Romea Strata by bike
Not just a walk: the Romea Strata can also be covered by bike. An alternative so far appreciated by pilgrims who increasingly love to travel on two wheels. Also in this case the starting points can be many: you can get on the saddle from Slovenia, and then follow the Romea Aquileiense, from the Austrian border of Passo Monte Croce Camico and take the Romea Iulia Augusta and from Bassano Del Grappa, proceeding for the Romea of the Saint.
Just recently, a group of Vicentini was at the starting blocks: from Rovereto the target is Fucecchio-San Miniato. The estimated time is 5 days, among natural beauty, visits to the main churches and regenerating/energising stops. They are a sort of trailblazer for all walkers who this summer will want to try their hand at discovering this ancient and fascinating way of pilgrimage!
Some pictures of the small Vicentini's group during the bike trip along the Romea Strata.