Rimini and its hinterland: a journey between art and nature in the footsteps of St. Francis

Published on: 9 November 2020

For two thousand years, Rimini has been a crossroads, the caput viarum of the Roman Empire, a hub for Italy and Europe with the intertwining of the Via Flaminia, Emilia and Popilia.
Over the centuries, kings, emperors and saints have crossed its streets making Rimini a stop on their long journeys, paths that can still be followed today as in the past.

800 years after his passage in the city, it is still possible today to repeat the journey that led the patron saint of Italy, Francesco, from Rimini to La Verna, the mountain where he received the Holy Stigmata.  The Way of Saint Francis from Rimini to the Sanctuary of La Verna, organized by the association L'umana Dimora, is part of the network of Franciscan Routes which, retracing the travels of the saint, connect four regions: Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio.

As documented or supported by ancient traditions, the route, 112 kilometers between Romagna and the Tuscan Apennines, connects the main places where St. Francis traveled in his work of "itinerant ministry". Through five steps, Rimini - Villa Verucchio, Villa Verucchio - San Leo, San Leo - Sant'Agata Feltria, Sant'Agata Feltria - Balze, Balze - La Verna, you can discover the places where the saint stayed, preached, received the recognition of the lords who ruled the Rimini hinterland and finally, the place where he received the symbol of holiness, the stigmata.

The first leg of the journey starts from the center of Rimini, from the city's cathedral, the Malatesta Temple. Actually,before the lord of Rimini transformed it into one of the most important monuments of Italian humanism, the Malatesta Temple was, from 1257, a conventual Franciscan church and between 1299 and 1300 here Giotto realized the wonderful crucifix which is still placed in the Cathedral today. From here passing through the admirable arch of Augustus, the tour continues  with a stop at the church of Santa Chiara, where the saint found some rest. Passing-by the convent of San Bernardino and theFranciscan Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazieon the nearby Covignano hill, the walk continues out of the city along the Marecchia river to Villa Verucchio. Here it is possible to see a giant cypress tree in the cloister of the convent of Santa Croce that was supposedly planted by the Saint.

The first leg, and the following ones, are all equal in length and are accessible even to the less trained. They are ideal both for simple trekking enthusiasts and for those who want to follow a spiritual journey. In five legs from Rimini to Monte della Verna, you will discover the story of the patron saint of Italy engaged in his work of evangelization, while visiting places full of art and admiring wonderful views, upto the most full of pathos place in the life of the Saint, where he received the holy stigmata.

Among the many routes that can be undertaken autonomously from Rimini towards its hinterland, the Walk of Saint Francis from Rimini to the Sanctuary of La Verna is an organized route and, thanks to the association "L'umana Dimora", it is possible to know day by day changes on the road network or receive updated information on the itinerary, the places to visit and where to eat according to the Emilia Romagna paths project of the Region.

Il Cammino di San Francesco da Rimini al Santuario della Verna