When to Walk the Via di Francesco Trail: Experience Florence and the Enchanting Casentinesi Forest

When to Walk the Via di Francesco Trail: Experience Florence and the Enchanting Casentinesi Forest

Embarking on a pilgrimage along the Via di Francesco is a transformative experience for many travelers.

This spiritual journey retraces the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, passing through breathtaking landscapes, historic towns, and the majestic Casentinesi National Forest.

To ensure the most enjoyable experience, choosing the right time to visit Florence and begin the trek is crucial.

Key Highlights

  1. September is the optimal month to walk the Via di Francesco in Tuscany due to pleasant weather, fewer crowds, enchanting autumn colors, and local events.
  2. April, May, and early September are the best choices for pilgrims walking the entire route.
  3. Weather, trail conditions, accommodations availability, and interesting events are crucial factors to consider when planning your pilgrimage.

Table of Contents

Best Month to Visit Florence and Start the Trail

After considering factors such as weather, tourist crowds, and local events, the optimal month to visit Florence and embark on the Via di Francesco trail is September. Here’s why:

Pleasant Weather

September offers mild temperatures and comfortable weather conditions for walking the trail. With an average daytime temperature of 25°C (77°F) and cooler evenings, pilgrims can enjoy their journey without the discomfort of excessive heat or humidity. Rainfall is also less frequent in September compared to other months, which reduces the likelihood of encountering muddy trails and slippery surfaces.

Less Crowded

As the peak tourist season in Florence typically runs from June to August, visiting in September allows you to avoid the heaviest crowds. This not only enhances your experience of the city’s attractions, but it also means fewer fellow pilgrims on the trail, resulting in a more serene and contemplative atmosphere.

Enchanting Autumn Colors

Embarking on the Via di Francesco trail in September also means experiencing the Casentinesi National Forest during the onset of the fall season. With the foliage beginning to change color, the forest comes alive with a vibrant palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, further enhancing the beauty of the landscape.

Local Festivals and Events

September is a culturally rich month in Florence and the surrounding region, with various local festivals and events taking place. These events provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions, adding a unique dimension to your pilgrimage experience.

Recommended times to walk the Via di Francesco

Florence and Tuscan Stages Only

For the Tuscan stages, nearly any time from March through October is early November.

April, May, September, and October are the most ideal temperatures and least crowded months on the Via di Francesco in Tuscany. This means pilgrims won’t get too hot or cold, and it will be easier to find accommodations.

Start around September 10 to reach La Verna on September 17 for the Stimmate Feast holiday, when many pilgrims visit the sacred monastery.

There is also heavier rainfall than the summer months, which can damage trails, making the hike more difficult.

Firenze – Rome

For pilgrims walking the entire route, it’s best to start in May, April, or early September. This will allow pilgrims to avoid overly hot trails and limited accommodations. Also, some donativos on later stages begin closing for the season starting in late October.

By starting in September, pilgrims will get ideal temps, easier accommodations options, and less crowded trails nearly the entire route.

April, May and early September would be the best bet for anyone walking the entire route.

When is the busiest time on the Via di Francesco?

Florence Throughout the Year

Florence, the starting point for your Via di Francesco pilgrimage, is a city that sees fluctuating levels of tourism throughout the year.

During high season, from June to August, the city is bustling with tourists, making attractions more crowded.

On the other hand, the low season, from November to February, sees fewer visitors, giving you the opportunity to explore the city’s attractions without the crowds.

In-between months like March, April, and October offer a pleasant balance of fewer tourists and enjoyable weather.

Pilgrims on the Via di Francesco Trail

The number of pilgrims on the trail varies significantly depending on the season. During low seasons, like January, February, and December, you’ll find very few pilgrims, with most on guided snow tours.

March and April see a gradual increase in pilgrims, with May and September offering ideal conditions and moderate numbers.

The high season, from June to August, experiences the largest number of pilgrims, with trails being more crowded, especially in July and August when many Italians take their vacations.

The summer months tend to be busier than shoulder seasons. During, many Italian families vacation in the Casentenesi Forest National Park – which hosts the pilgrimage trail for stages 4-6. Plus Florentines escape summer heat to Consuma, putting a crunch on accommodations.

Accommodations Availability

The availability of accommodations along the trail is affected by both the number of pilgrims and the tourist seasons.

During low seasons, some accommodations might be closed, making it more challenging to find a place to stay.

The high season sees increased competition for beds, especially in popular summer destinations like Consuma and Badia Prataglia.

However, during the shoulder seasons, accommodations are more readily available, offering a balance between availability and moderate pilgrim numbers.

Keep in mind that the Via di Francesco crosses towns hosting various fairs and events throughout the year. This can impact accommodations availability, but won’t affect the trail traffic too much.

Booking Recommendations

When it comes to booking accommodations, the season you choose to walk the trail plays a crucial role in your planning.

In low seasons, guided tours are recommended, and you should book in advance to ensure open accommodations.

During high seasons, you’ll need to book well in advance, especially in popular towns and Florence itself.

In shoulder seasons, you may not need to book far in advance, and in some cases, you can book accommodations as you go.

Best Times to Start in Florence

The ideal time to start your pilgrimage in Florence depends on your preferences.

If you prefer fewer crowds and mild temperatures, consider starting in April, May, September, or October. These months offer a pleasant balance of fewer tourists, enjoyable weather, and open accommodations.

However, if you don’t mind the heat and crowds, starting in the high season of June to August can still be an unforgettable experience. Keep in mind that low seasons may not be ideal due to limited accommodations and challenging trail conditions.

If you plan to spend time in Florence or Rome it’s best to start early in the year, such as mid-march. Know that starting later in the year such as September will still see crowds in Florence and could risk donativos closing on later sections of the full trail.

Days and Distance on the Trail

How many days will you walk?

  • 7 days to La Verna?
  • 20 to Assisi?
  • 30 to Rome?

If you plan to walk only the Tuscan stages from Firenze to La Verna, you’ll walk 6-9 days. The weather should be agreeable nearly any time during the March-October season.

If you plan to walk to Assisi, which could take 16-20 days, or Rome, know that the stages beyond Tuscany will be more exposed to heat and rain, as trails leave the cover of the Casentinesi Forests.

Plus it’s important to plan for accommodations to start closing by early November, making it imperative not to start too late in the year or face more limited options.

When is the best weather to do the Via di Francesco?

It’s crucial to consider the weather in the Casentino Apennines and Casentinesi Park. The climate in these areas plays a significant role in your journey, as it directly impacts trail conditions, your comfort, and overall safety.

The Casentino Apennines have a varied climate, with mountainous regions experiencing cooler temperatures and the possibility of snow, while lower elevations have more temperate weather. Understanding the seasonal changes will help you better plan and prepare for your journey.

The driest months of June, July, and August are also the hottest. While this means less worry about rain, the heat can make the mountainous trails of the Apennines particularly tiresome.

The air will be cooler inside the Vallambrosa and Casentensi forests, but will be hotter during the valley treks through Pontassieve and Stia.

If you can handle a little rain, the best weather occurs in April, May, September, and October. These months have the most comfortable temperatures.

May and early September may be the sweet spots for weather.

Seasonal Weather Overview

H4: Spring (March 20 – June 20):

Temperatures begin to rise during spring, fluctuating from chilly to mild, and the possibility of rain decreases. Snow may still cover some parts of the trail, particularly at higher elevations in early spring. This season is generally safer for walking than winter, but it’s essential to be prepared for changing weather conditions.

Summer (June 21 – September 22):

Summer brings warmer and drier conditions, with temperatures ranging from warm to hot. The trails are typically dry and well-maintained, making it a safe and enjoyable time to walk the Tuscan stages. However, staying hydrated and protecting yourself from the sun is essential during this season.

Autumn (September 23 – December 20):

Autumn sees pleasant temperatures but an increased likelihood of rain, particularly towards the end of the season. Be prepared for occasional showers and potentially muddy paths during this time. Trails are mostly clear, and daytime temperatures are mild, making it a comfortable time to walk.

Winter (December 21 – March 19):

Winter months bring cold temperatures and a high chance of snow, especially in mountainous areas. Trail conditions can be dangerous and difficult to navigate, making this season less suitable for walking the Tuscan stages. If you choose to walk during this time, ensure you have appropriate clothing and footwear, and consider booking a guided tour for safety.

Dealing with Heat

During the hottest months, usually July and August, it’s essential to stay vigilant about your hydration and sun protection.

Ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day (2-3 liters at least), wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection. Pay attention to your body’s signals, and take regular breaks to avoid heat exhaustion.

Hottest Months

Average highs on the trail in Tuscany

  • June: 22.9°C / 73.2°F
  • July: 25.7°C / 78.2°F
  • August: 25.7°C / 78.2°F

Rain and Snow

Rain is more likely during autumn and spring, with October and November being the rainiest months. A lightweight poncho is a great addition to your packing list to keep you dry during unexpected showers. In the winter, snow is a common occurrence, particularly in the mountainous regions, making the trail potentially dangerous and difficult to navigate.

Most months average rain 8-10 days per month.

Rainiest Months

  • April: 112 mm of rain, 11 rainy days
  • October: 119 mm of rain, 9 rainy days
  • November: 137 mm  of rain, 10 rainy days

Driest Months

  • June: 73 mm of rain, 7 rainy days
  • July: 52 mm of rain, 6 rainy days
  • August: 55 mm of rain, 7 rainy days

Trail Conditions and Weather Impact

Weather conditions greatly affect trail conditions, making them crucial to consider when planning your pilgrimage. Snow can make trails impassable or dangerous, requiring the use of hiking poles and appropriate footwear. Heavy rain can lead to washouts, overflowing streams, and lost signage, making it essential to exercise caution and be prepared for potential challenges along the trail.

Popularity & Crowds

Popularity affects trail traffic and accommodations availability.

The Tuscan stages course through the cooling and attractive Casentino forests and mountains, which draws summer tourists from the larger cities around the region. This can make accommodations more difficult to book during summer months, and especially during holidays and festivals.

While more and more pilgrims choose to walk the Via di Francesco each year, it’s still quite possible to walk a full stage without seeing another pilgrim. The forests are vast and quiet.

Pilgrims will rarely meet non-pilgrims on the trails in Tuscany, making solitude, reflection, and space strong possibilities, especially during April, May, September, and October.

Holidays & Festivals

When planning your Via di Francesco pilgrimage, it’s essential to consider the various events, festivals, and holidays that could impact your journey.

Some of these events are worth attending for their unique cultural experiences, while others might make it more challenging to find accommodations.

Here are some of the most significant events and festivals to consider as you plan your pilgrimage:


Florence and Casentino Events

  • Holy Week and Easter celebrations take place throughout Tuscany.
  • In Florence, the Scoppio del Carro event on Easter Day features a parade, an antique cart filled with fireworks, and a grand explosion. The exact date varies, so check the calendar before planning your visit.


Beyond Tuscany – Umbria and Lazio

Events may affect accommodations availability. Consider booking in advance.

  • Sagra del Prugnolo in Pieve Santo Stefano: Celebrating the prugnolo mushroom, local restaurants offer special menus, and shepherds bring their livestock to the Maremma.
  • Festival of the Ceri in Gubbio: Held on May 15, this historic event commemorates Saint Ubaldo’s death with a colorful parade, a race between teams representing three saints, and various festivities.
  • Calendimaggio in Assisi: A traditional spring festival held in the first week of May, featuring medieval costumes, music, and competitions between the town’s two districts.


Florence and Casentino Events

  • Calcio Storico Fiorentino occurring outside Santa Croce, a unique event in Florence, is a combination of soccer, rugby, and wrestling.
  • The Trekking of the Fireflies, held on June 25th, offers an unforgettable experience in the Casentino Forests near La Verna, where thousands of fireflies illuminate the forest.

Beyond Tuscany – Umbria and Lazio

Events may affect accommodations availability. Consider booking in advance.

  • Infiorate del Corpus Domini di Spello: Held on the night of the Corpus Domini feast, colorful flower carpets are constructed on the streets. It usually takes place on the 9th Sunday after Easter, commonly falling in late May to mid-June.
  • Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto: An annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July. This event attracts many visitors, so book accommodations accordingly.


Beyond Tuscany – Umbria and Lazio

Events may affect accommodations availability. Consider booking in advance.

Umbria Jazz Festival: A ten-day festival held annually since 1973, usually in July, in Perugia and surrounding cities of the region of Umbria, Italy. It’s one of the most influential jazz festivals globally.


Florence and Casentino Events

  • Ferragosto, celebrated on August 15th, marks the Feast of the Assumption. This kicks off the country-wide vacation time August 15-31. Accommodations may be more challenging to book during this time due to increased tourism, including the hosts closing their lodging and taking their own holiday.

Beyond Tuscany – Umbria and Lazio

Events may affect accommodations availability. Consider booking in advance.

  • Palio della Balestra in Sansepolcro: In early August, this ancient crossbow competition takes place between the cities of Sansepolcro and Gubbio, featuring participants dressed in traditional medieval costumes.
  • Ferragosto Celebrations: On August 15th, Italy celebrates Ferragosto, the Feast of the Assumption. Expect various celebrations, including religious processions, fireworks, and festivities throughout the towns and villages along the Via di Francesco.


Florence and Casentino Events

  • Santuario La Verna hosts the Stimmate Feast on September 17th, drawing worshippers for intense celebrations, including a prayer vigil the night before.
  • The Festa della Rificolona (Festival of Paper Lanterns) takes place in Florence.
  • The Biennial of Blacksmithing Art occurs in Stia. Lodging in Stia might be difficult during the Blacksmithing Art event, so be sure to book well in advance.
  • The Bramito del Cervo event in the Casentino Forest National Park features adult red deer beginning their mating season, calling out for a mate. This unique spectacle attracts tourists, making accommodations more competitive during this time.


Beyond Tuscany – Umbria and Lazio

Events may affect accommodations availability. Consider booking in advance.

  • Festival of San Rufino in Assisi: A traditional religious event that includes processions, historical re-enactments, and fireworks.
  • Eurochocolate in Perugia: An international chocolate festival showcasing a wide variety of chocolate treats, demonstrations, and tastings.

Special Guide: Holidays, events, and festivals for the Tuscan stages and beyond, including special events in Assisi.

Public Transit

Each stage can be reached by public transportation while school is in session, as public buses serve local communities and school children.

No buses in summer to Camaldoli or La Verna

There are no buses serving Camaldoli and La Verna after the first week of June through mid-September.

Trains continue year-round, but serve only Firenze, Pontaissieve, Stia, bus hub Bibbiena, Arezzo, and Assisi.

Monthly Overview


In January, pilgrims can expect cold temperatures and snowy landscapes on the Via di Francesco in Tuscany, making the trail potentially dangerous and difficult to navigate. Independent travel may be challenging due to limited accommodations and trail conditions. However, January offers unique experiences such as picturesque views in the Casentino National Park, quiet exploration of Florence, and special snow activities. To ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, booking a guided tour with a local company is recommended.


February offers a unique experience with the beauty of snowy landscapes, a peaceful atmosphere, and special events like Carnival and the Chocolate Fair. However, it’s crucial to be prepared for cold temperatures, potentially difficult trail conditions, and limited accommodations. Guided tours are highly recommended for safety and assistance in navigating the snowy trails and finding available lodgings. Overall, February provides a tranquil and picturesque setting for pilgrims willing to brave the colder weather and embrace the winter season.


March is a month of transition on the Via di Francesco, with unpredictable weather and variable trail conditions. Walking during this time offers the advantage of fewer crowds in popular cities like Florence, Assisi, and Rome, providing a more intimate experience. However, be prepared for the challenges of limited accommodations and fluctuating temperatures. Pack layers and waterproof gear to adapt to the ever-changing weather conditions. Special events such as International Women’s Day and the Taste Fair add cultural richness to your pilgrimage experience.


April is a fantastic month for pilgrims to walk the Via di Francesco in Tuscany, with its mild weather, blooming flowers, and fewer crowds. Cooler mountain temperatures (5.1ºC to 14.2ºC) and potential rain make it essential to dress in layers and be prepared for muddy trail conditions. Accommodations are readily available, but booking in advance for Easter in Florence is recommended. Pilgrims can enjoy unique events like Scoppio del Carro during Easter Weekend and Liberation Day celebrations on April 25th, as well as seasonal foods such as artichokes, asparagus, and strawberries.


Walking the Tuscan stages of the Via di Francesco in May offers pilgrims pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and an opportunity to experience local culture. With daily temperatures ranging from 9ºC to 18.2ºC, the trails are uncrowded and in good condition. Accommodations are generally available, but booking in advance is advised, especially in Florence and Pontassieve. Additionally, May brings unique events such as the Iris Garden in Florence and various local festivals, allowing pilgrims to immerse themselves in the rich culture and traditions of Tuscany.


June is a beautiful month to walk the Via di Francesco in Tuscany, offering warm temperatures and the opportunity to witness stunning sunflower fields in full bloom. Despite the larger crowds and higher accommodation prices, the well-maintained trail conditions and abundance of local events make it a popular choice for pilgrims. Plan and book accommodations in advance to avoid disappointment, and prepare for the heat by carrying water and sun protection. While public transportation serves most stages, be prepared to arrange alternative options for Camaldoli and La Verna. Enjoy seasonal foods and immerse yourself in local events like Calcio Storico Fiorentino and Giostra del Saracino, which will make your pilgrimage a memorable experience.


Walking the Via di Francesco in Tuscany during July offers pilgrims a vivid and lively experience with the forest paths in full bloom and warm, sunny weather. While the heat and larger crowds can be challenging, proper planning, early reservations for accommodations, and starting each day’s walk early can help make this a rewarding journey. Special events like the Trekking of the Fireflies and the International Organ Music Festival add a unique charm to the pilgrimage, making July a memorable time to explore Tuscany’s spiritual path.


In August, the Via di Francesco in Tuscany is hot, sunny, and crowded. While accommodations might be more limited and require advance booking, there are unique seasonal events and foods to enjoy. The weather, although hot, offers generally dry and well-maintained trails. August is a lively time to visit Florence, but expect long lines and crowded accommodations. Key events along the trail include Chiuso per Ferie and the International Organ Music Festival. Overall, if you can handle the heat and crowds, August offers a vibrant experience with rich cultural activities and delicious seasonal foods


September is an ideal month for pilgrims to walk the Via di Francesco in Tuscany. With pleasant weather ranging from 11.8ºC to 20.3ºC, well-maintained trails, and open accommodations, it’s a comfortable time to experience the pilgrimage. Pilgrims can also enjoy seasonal foods like porcini mushrooms and wine, as well as special events like the Stimmate Feast. The only disadvantage is the increasing likelihood of rain towards the end of the month, so packing rain gear is essential.


October is an excellent time for pilgrims to walk the Via di Francesco in Tuscany, offering mild temperatures, fewer visitors, and the chance to witness stunning autumn foliage. While cooler evenings and occasional rain showers can be expected, preparing by packing light layers, warm clothes, and waterproof gear will ensure comfort. Accommodations are typically available without booking in advance, providing flexibility for travelers. In addition, October showcases seasonal foods such as chestnuts, grapes, and olives, as well as special events like wine harvest festivals, further enriching the experience for pilgrims.


Walking the Via di Francesco in November allows pilgrims to experience fewer crowds and lower-priced accommodations, while enjoying the beautiful fall foliage in Foreste Casentinesi National Park. However, they must be prepared for cold, rainy, and unpredictable weather, with the possibility of snow on trails. Some accommodations may be closed for the season, and challenging trail conditions may require hiring a guide. Nevertheless, November offers unique culinary experiences, such as white truffles and local bakery treats, making it a memorable time to embark on this pilgrimage.


December offers a magical time to walk the Via di Francesco, with its snowy landscapes, festive atmosphere, and reduced crowds. However, the cold temperatures, potential snowfall, and limited accommodations pose challenges. To overcome these, consider guided tours such as AlterTrek or Gli Amici dell’Asino Donkey Tours, which can help with navigation and accommodations. While walking the Tuscan stages, don’t miss the holiday markets, light displays, and delicious seasonal treats like Panettone and Vin Brulé. Despite the challenges, December can be a uniquely memorable and enchanting experience on the Via di Francesco.

In conclusion, September is the ideal month to walk the Via di Francesco trail in Tuscany, due to its combination of favorable factors:

  • Weather: Enjoy mild temperatures (average 25°C/77°F) and less frequent rainfall for comfortable walking conditions.
  • Crowds: Experience fewer tourists in Florence and on the trail, allowing for a more tranquil pilgrimage.
  • Trail conditions: Traverse well-maintained paths and witness the vibrant autumn colors in the Casentinesi National Forest.
  • Accommodations: Greater availability during shoulder season, ensuring a balance between availability and moderate pilgrim numbers.
  • Events: Participate in local festivals and events, such as the Stimmate Feast at La Verna and the Festa della Rificolona in Florence.

For pilgrims walking the entire route, starting in April, May, or early September is recommended to enjoy comfortable temperatures, easier accommodations options, and less crowded trails throughout the journey. When planning your Via di Francesco pilgrimage, carefully consider weather, trail conditions, accommodations availability, and interesting events in order to fully appreciate and embrace this transformative experience.