This final section of the St Francis Way takes from the Appennine mountain range down into the Tiber Valley plain before arriving into the outer-suburbs of Rome and then the final destination the Basilica of St Peter in the Vatican City. Passing through valleys and over hills, by olive groves and small ancient towns and villages this walk gives you the perspective of moving from the peaceful Italian countryside to the expansive, cosmopolitan city of Rome and the home of the Catholic Church, the Vatican City.
Arrive into Rieti. This town in the Lazio region is steeped in history from the Roman period right up to today. Located on the slopes of the Reatini and Sabini Mountains Reiti has some spectacular mountainous scenery and it is easy to see why St Francis spent so much time in the surrounding tranquil countryside.
Arrive into Rieti. This town in the Lazio region is steeped in history from the Roman period right up to today. Located on the slopes of the Reatini and Sabini Mountains, Reiti has some spectacular mountainous scenery and it is easy to see why St Francis spent so much time in the surrounding tranquil countryside. While here why not visit the town hall, which dates back to the XIII Century, and the romantic Cathedral, which preserves some precious artworks.
The walk from Rieti to Poggio San Lorenzo is mostly a flat walk with only the last section to Poggio San Lorenzo providing some steep climbs. Leaving Rieti you will follow a road along the base of the mountain before turning off this and crossing the valley and Rio Turano to continue down a tree-lined path on the other side of the valley now flanked on the opposite side by a wooded hillside. Meandering then back to the other side of the valley before crossing the valley again you will pass a Go-Kart track and shortly after you will bypass San Giovanni Reatino. Continuing on through the flat arable valley surrounded by wooded hilltops you will come to the Ponte Sambuco, a 4th Century Roman Bridge, where there are picnic benches and you can stop to enjoy some lunch. After this bridge you will ascend to the outskirts of Ornaro Basso which you can detour into should you wish to get some lunch if you haven’t brought a picnic, otherwise, you will continue along through the tranquil countryside ascending gently before descending into Poggio San Lorenzo your stop for the night. This ancient Roman town is surrounded by forested hilltops and makes a peaceful place to stay and enjoy some good home cooked food. This town is also known for it animal rescue reserve “Piano dell’ Abatino”, unfortunately, it is not open to the public.
Leaving Poggio San Lorenzo you will wind your way down to the valley past olive groves. Passing over undulating countryside of olive groves and small farms you will pass the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre that you can explore before arriving at the town’s jewel, the romantic Santa Vittoria Church, within which there is a small well whose water is said to have healing properties. Continuing on up and down over creeks and winding through more olive groves before going uphill into Poggio Moiano. This is roughly the halfway mark for today so you may want to stop here for some lunch. After walking through the little town you will come across Scandriglia, another lovely town where you will be able to admire the XV century Anguillara Palace. The next section starts out relatively flat over through a vast area of olive groves then you begin to ascend the hill that has been in front of you in the distance before sweeping around the side of this hill and down into your stopover for the night, the small quiet village of Ponticelli. Here you must visit the Santa Maria delle Grazie sanctuary, which is said to have hosted some significant saints from Italy.
From this stage onwards you are descending down from the Appennine mountain range into the Tiber Valley plain. Descending from Ponticelli the walk today is somewhat undulating but mostly downhill. Walking over arable land you will come to the town of Poggio Corese after which you will climb up to the town of Pitirolo. From Pitirolo you will have the opportunity for a 2km detour to the beautiful Orsini castle in Nerola. If not detouring, then the walk will continue from Pitirolo working your way downhill through olive groves to the town of Acquaviva where there are restaurants and bars where you can stop for some lunch. Meandering through olive groves on quiet country roads you then will arrive at your stop for tonight, Montelibretti. Be sure to spend some time exploring this town perched on the ridge of the hill with its many churches and the Barberini palace. Take the opportunity to also sample some locally produced olive oil.
Descending down from Montelibretti to the floor of the valley will see you walking through olive groves. The walk today will continue to gradually ascend and descend through the olive groves then through hayfields before walking up to the town of Monterotondo, which as its name implies is atop a round hill, Monte Ginestra. Steeped in history this town is also connected with some of the famous families from the history of Italy such as the Medici and the Orsini families. The city hall was formerly a fortress and although it was turned into an elegant Renaissance palazzo in the early 15th Century it once again played its part as a fortress during World War II after the Italians had surrendered to the Allies and the Germans attempted to capture the Italian Supreme Command but were unsuccessful. Spend time exploring this quiet town on the doorstep of Rome and why not try one of the local dishes containing the locally produced fava beans and sheep’s milk cheese. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to take a look at the Santa Maria Maddalena Cathedral and the Santa Madonna delle Grazie church.
The start of today’s walk from Monterotondo will be your last day going through farmland. Walking down out of Monterotondo pass vegetable gardens to the valley you will now be passing through rolling green hills of farmland, olive groves and an olive oil factory. Just past the olive oil factory, there is a viewing point where on a clear day you can see the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. Walking now through the Riserva Naturale delle Marcigliana you will pass through large open, grassy fields before entering the suburbs of Rome and your final stop before Rome, Monte Sacro, which is the 16th District of Rome. During the Plebian Revolt of 494BC the Plebian lower classed took up residence here in rebellion against the Patricians however by the Middle Ages the area was largely unpopulated. As Rome grew and urbanisation took hold it became once again apart of the metropolitan area of Rome.
Leaving Monte Sacro and crossing the Aniene River to avoid the traffic and busy streets of Rome you will follow a cycle path along the Aniene River on tree-lined streets. Passing through the wooded expanse of Villa Ada Savoia, one of the largest parks in Rome, you will leave the park by the Mosque of Rome, the largest mosque out of the Islamic world. Continuing to follow the cycle path, you will then come to the Villa Glori Park where you might want to stop in one of the many restaurants to have a short break. Crossing the Tiber River on the elegant pedestrian bridge, Ponte Milivo you will continue to follow the bike path along the Tiber River passing by the many bridges that cross the river. Reaching Ponte Sant’ Angelo opposite Castel Sant’ Angelo you will continue straight ahead to the epitome of your journey, St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.
Today, we bid you arrivederci! Take the opportunity however to explore the ancient city and its many churches. As you will have walked the Way of St Francis be sure to visit the Basilica of St John Lateran, where in the 4th Chapel there is a painting of St Francis receiving the stigmata and also in the park outside there is a large statue of St Francis that if you stand behind at a certain distance it looks as if St Francis is holding up the church.
Rome is serviced by two airports. Leonardo da Vinci Airport at Fiumicino which is used by major airlines, and Ciampino Airport which is used by the budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair.
There is an express train from Rome Stazione Termini to Fiumicino airport, the Leonardo Express, which runs every 30 minutes between 6.30am and 11.30pm and tickets cost €11, all tickets must be validated on the platform before boarding.
It is also possible to get a taxi to the airport, make sure that it is an official taxi which is white with ‘taxi’ lights on top and has a taxi license number displayed. There is a set fare from the city centre to Fiumicino which is €40. Further up to date information on getting to and from Fiumicino airport can be found on the following website here.
To Ciampino airport you can get a taxi or bus and more information can be found on the following website here.
We can also arrange a private transfer from your hotel in Rome to either airport, please get in touch for prices.