This route was first documented in 990 by Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury. In his diary he described the places he passed through as he returned to Canterbury after receiving the archbishop's pallium from the Pope. The roads that Sigeric followed became known as the Via Francigena (the road to France) or "Via Romea" (the road to Rome) and was for centuries used by merchants, prelates, soldiers and pilgrims traveling back and forth from the north of Europe to Rome, carrying ideas as well as money and produce. These people travelled on foot, or on mules and horses, rarely by cart as the conditions of the road varied continually.
A 14th century fresco of pilgrims in the Sutri cave chapel of the Madonna del Parto.
We found ourselves going on and off the Via Cassia to reach destinations along the Via Francigena. Our journey from Rome to the monastery of Sant' Antimo took six days and was in four segments. The following four postings are reports from the trip. (1: Rome to Sutri, 2: Sutri to Viterbo, 3: Viterbo to Bolsena, and 4: Bolsena to Sant' Antimo)