Balze di Verghereto - La Verna | Stage 5

This is the most demanding stage. It proceeds almost exclusively on mountainous terrain, following forest paths and tracks. In the first part, in a continuous alternation of woods and meadows-pastures, we pass from Romagna into Tuscany, in a landscape that spans between the Marecchia, Savio and Upper Tiber Valleys. The long final stretch is surrounded by woodland, skirts the Upper Tiber Valley Nature Reserve and finally, enters the Casentino Forests National Park. Pilgrims are well-guided by the clear red and white CAI trail signs, along with signposts for the Way.

We advise anyone not staying overnight at the sanctuary to ensure they arrive at La Verna in time to follow one of the visits guided by the friars (which can be pre-booked) and still have time to spend in the place that was one of those dearest to Francis, perhaps even meeting the friars, the current custodians and witnesses of his charism.

CAUTION: After Montecoronaro (about 5 hours from La Verna), there is no water available. It is therefore essential to leave with a good supply.

 

Balze di Verghereto - Pieve Santo Stefano - La Verna Variant

This alternative route takes an extra day, but offers a number of different opportunities.

It should be considered in winter, when there are few hours of daylight and possible snowfall, as a simpler and more anthropized route than the demanding direct Balze - La Verna stage, which has a long final stretch that is mountainous and isolated. In any case, it should be taken into consideration in the event of adverse weather conditions. 

It also makes it possible to visit the Hermitage of Cerbaiolo, another important Franciscan site that reopened in 2019 after years of closure.

Finally, it may be an option for those who, having already been to La Verna, wish to follow the southern route of Francis’ Way, continuing from Viamaggio Pass directly towards Assisi and Rome, thus shortening the walk by at least a day.

 

Balze di Verghereto - Pieve Santo Stefano Stage

This crosses an Apennine landscape, almost always in very open, panoramic areas, surrounded by mountains, meadows, clearings and pastures. Initially, the route, which immediately enters the territory of Tuscany, proceeds mainly along scenic ridge roads and dirt tracks. It leads to Viamaggio Pass (Via Major) on the watershed ridge between the Marecchia and Tiber Valleys. Already popular in antiquity, in Roman times the consular road known as “Via Ariminensis” passed through here and was an important communication route between Arezzo and Rimini. From the pass, views generously span the Tiber Valley; it is common to meet pilgrims and walkers here who, having left from La Verna, are heading to Assisi or vice versa. On the descent to Pieve, a stop at the Hermitage of Cerbaiolo is a must; Father Claudio lives here, a hermit priest who also offers hospitality to pilgrims. St Anthony also once stayed here, in a cell below the hermitage which can still be visited today. From here, a steady hour’s descent leads to Pieve Santo Stefano.

 

Pieve Santo Stefano - La Verna Stage

This crosses an Apennine landscape, almost always in very open, panoramic areas, surrounded by mountains, meadows, clearings and pastures. Initially, the route, which immediately enters the territory of Tuscany, proceeds mainly along scenic ridge roads and dirt tracks. It leads to Viamaggio Pass (Via Major) on the watershed ridge between the Marecchia and Tiber Valleys. Already popular in antiquity, in Roman times the consular road known as “Via Ariminensis” passed through here and was an important communication route between Arezzo and Rimini. From the pass, views generously span the Tiber Valley; it is common to meet pilgrims and walkers here who, having left from La Verna, are heading to Assisi or vice versa. On the descent to Pieve, a stop at the Hermitage of Cerbaiolo is a must; Father Claudio lives here, a hermit priest who also offers hospitality to pilgrims. St Anthony also once stayed here, in a cell below the hermitage which can still be visited today. From here, a steady hour’s descent leads to Pieve Santo Stefano.

From: Balze di Verghereto
To: La Verna
Distance: 22,7 km
Increase in altitude: +1258m
Difficulty: challenging
Travel time: 7h30'

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