The Via Francigena is the common name of an ancient road and pilgrim route running from France to Rome, although it is usually considered to have its starting point much further away, in the English cathedral city of Canterbury. As such, the route passes through England, France, Switzerland and Italy.
The route was known in Italy as the “Via Francigena” (“the road that comes from France”). In medieval times it was an important road and pilgrimage route for those wishing to visit the Holy See and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul.
The increasing use of the via Francigena as a trade route led to the unprecedented development of many towns along the way. The way became an essential route to take the goods from the east (silk, spices) to the markets of northern Europe and trade them, usually in the Champagne fairs, for cloth from Flanders and Brabant. In the thirteenth century trade grew to such an extent that several alternative routes to the via Francigena were developed, and it therefore, lost its unique character and broke into numerous different routes linking the north and Rome.
Part of this route travels through the Susa Valley and remains a popular walking and ppilgrimage route.