The Via Francigena is the backbone of a cultural, religious and even tourist story.
Some traditional and other current events are closely linked to the Via Francigena route, and throughout the year it is possible to find oneself in the midst of festivals and historical re-enactments of the pilgrims' passage: from medieval re-enactments that take one back to times when the figure of the pilgrim was a constant in stories and daily life to the art and culture that always accompany these great European routes in the contemporary world. The new pilgrims meet in festivals and non-competitive "marathons", as in the spirit of the walk, to share experiences and landscapes.
A good start! In May Francigena Running, the same route but competitive, from Pietrasanta to Lucca, along the Via Francigena.
On 27 April, Lucca celebrates Saint Zita. In her memory, people remember the miracles she performed, the most famous of which was the transformation of bread into flowers. On these days, in homage to the saint and the miracle of the flowers, the square in front of the church of San Frediano becomes a garden, as do the nearby squares, the Amphitheatre and the square of the stone-cutters.
The events are then concentrated in the summer months, more favourable to outdoor initiatives, inaugurated every year by the celebrations for Saint Jacopo, protector of pilgrims.
To relax and immerse oneself in more meditative and intimate atmospheres, the "Francigena International Arts Festival" in Altopascio in summer is dedicated to the journey, with many musical and cultural events to spread and embrace the culture, traditions and concepts belonging to the Via Francigena.
San Jacopo is celebrated on 24th July and, in Altopascio, throughout the month with markets, festivals and historical reconstructions of medieval life in the village and at the Hospitale dei Monaci del Tau.
On the first weekend in September, at the Castello di Nozzano, the oldest medieval re-enactment festival in Tuscany, "Il castello rivive". A rich programme for two days in the company of fire-eaters, jesters, stilt-walkers, minstrels, singers and musicians, soldiers and duellists, angels, witches, harlots, friars and beggars, in a continuous show that is always different from night to night. And to finish, haute cuisine, medieval of course, with a final toast of hippocrasso!
On the same days, the historic centre of Camaiore hosts "Alla scoperta di Camaiore Medievale e della via Francigena" (Discovering Medieval Camaiore and the Via Francigena). Parades, historical re-enactments, shows and scenes of daily life set in the Middle Ages and some moments dedicated to good food, with tastings of typical products and medieval wine. A two-day event in which the protagonist is the ancient road trodden by pilgrims on their way to Rome.
On 13 and 14 September in Lucca, in the historic centre, a long historical procession through the city streets illuminated by small candles, the Luminara in honour of the Holy Face, recalls the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
At the end of September there are two great recreational-sports events on the Francigena: FrancigenAmica from Camaiore to Pietrasanta is a walk for everyone dedicated to the rediscovery of this stretch of the Via Francigena and Francigena Tuscany Marathon. A unique event, a non-competitive walk at free pace to celebrate the values of solidarity, equality, spirituality of Sigerico's path. Four routes of increasing difficulty of 10, 11, 22 and 42 km. from Pietrasanta to Lucca via Camaiore and Massarosa.
Finally, on 11 November, Lucca celebrates San Martino di Tour during the short days of the summer of St Martin. The feast is dedicated to the titular bishop of Lucca's cathedral, known for the episode of the gift of a cloak to a poor pilgrim.