Our Journeys

Hiking the Franciscan trail with the Sierra Club - Spring 2025
May 14-26, 2025


Hiking the Franciscan Trail with Sierra Club – Spring 2025

Called “Tuscany without tour buses,” Umbria boasts a rich history, picturesque villages, and beautiful countryside. Our outing combines the mysticism of the Franciscan Trail with the history of an influential Italian family. We will be introduced to the region by its locals: a respected priest, a titled contessa, and an assortment of villagers who approach the world with a medieval perspective.

We will walk parts of the Franciscan Trail and discover Umbria’s most enchanting – but lesser known – places, explore a few regional and national parks, and possibly view one of Gubbio’s medieval festivals from the balcony of our guide’s palazzo. Our tour includes a day on Trasimeno Lake visiting a bird sanctuary and a special island nature preserve. We will stay in small hotels and an agriturismo (countryside cottages with pool and sauna) and sample the regional cuisine. Hikes will be three to six miles a day, with gains of 2,000 feet at the most – a moderate trip.



*Please click on each day to view daily itinerary.

DAY 1 - May 14: Orientation & Dinner in Rome

We meet this afternoon at our hotel in Rome. Here we'll get to know our other group members in our orientation meeting, then walk to dinner at a nearby restaurant. Rome sites and tours are not included in this trip, so it is suggested you arrive a day or two early and explore Rome on your own. Overnight in Rome.

DAY 2 - May 15: Orvieto

From our hotel in Rome, we are transported by private bus to the beautiful village of Orvieto, a picturesque hill town built high on a plateau of tufa rock. Besides its spectacular duomo (cathedral), Orvieto is known for its mysterious Etruscan caves and delicious wine. We enjoy a short walk around the perimeter of the town to visit an Etruscan archeological site and will have time to explore on our own, perhaps visiting the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. At dinner we sample local cuisine at a small restaurant in town. Hiking distance: 2 miles, +/- 700 feet elevation gain. Overnight in Orvieto, Umbria.

DAY 3 - May 16: Civita di Bagnoregio

This morning we explore the historic crumbling village of Civita di Bagnoregio, and hike through the countryside to enjoy the stunning landscape. We will sample typical bruschettas and local wines, returning to enjoy Orvieto's duomo. This evening we have dinner on our own (at participants’ expense). Those who wish can try the region's best gnocchi (potato dumplings) at a local restaurant. Hiking distance: 5 miles, +1,500 feet. Overnight in Orvieto.

DAY 4 - May 17: Oasi di Alviano & Gubbio

An early departure from Orvieto takes us on a naturalist expedition to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Oasis of Lake Alviano. The Oasis includes all typical environments of freshwater wetlands and is among the largest in central Italy, preserving aquatic environments that had disappeared for over a century. Its 900 hectares protect this unique treasure of biodiversity from hunting and speculation. It is a perfect spot for a little birdwatching and learning about some of its 200 migratory and sedentary species, as well as its flora and fauna. After lunch in a small village, we continue to our picturesque new home for the next seven nights, situated in the peaceful Umbrian countryside near Gubbio. En route we’ll stop at a supermarket to pick up breakfast supplies, and later we retire after another delicious dinner. Hiking distance: 2 miles, mostly flat. Overnight near Gubbio, Umbria (for seven nights).

DAY 5 - May 18: Gubbio & Monte Ingino

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DAY 6 - May 19: Monte Cucco

Visiting one of the highest mountains in Umbria, Monte Cucco, we hike on its slopes and enjoy incredible views of surrounding mountains. The flower varieties here are diverse and, on a clear day, we may see the Adriatic Sea. The park has mineral springs, healthy beech forests, and deep caves accessible only to small groups of travelers. It is also home to wolves and golden eagles. After our hike we can enjoy the quiet of a small church where St. Francis frequently prayed. Hiking distance: 4-5 miles, +1,500 feet.

DAY 7 - May 20: Assisi

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DAY 8 - May 21: Monte Ingino & Gubbio

Our hike today is a loop trail of the back side of Monte Ingino into Gubbio through the prettiest unspoiled countryside in Umbria. The trail winds through a forested canyon and past a small stone shrine and chapel that were used in filming a movie about St. Francis. At the end of the hike, it's possible to enjoy time on your own at the unique Gubbio shops in the afternoon. Hiking distance: 5 miles, +900 feet.

DAY 9 - May 22: Spello & Santa Maria delgi Angeli

In the morning we drive to the quaint hill town of Collepino, where we begin our downhill walk to Spello, a charming town famous for its homes beautifully decorated with flowers, where we walk its cobblestone streets. On our way back to Gubbio, we stop at Santa Maria delgi Angeli, a pilgrimage site where an enormous cathedral encloses a tiny 13th century church, the Porziuncola, where St. Francis prayed. This is one of the most important places for the Franciscans, as it was here that young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation, affirming his dedication to live in absolute poverty, all the while advocating for the poor, the sick, and animals. Hiking distance: 3 miles, -1,200 feet.

DAY 10 - May 23: Fonte Avellana

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DAY 11 - May 24: Trasimeno Lake & Cortona

Moving from Umbria to Tuscany, the region of Italy most familiar to Americans, we head to Cortona, stopping at Trasimeno Lake, where we visit what is arguably the best small olive oil production center in Italy. Once you’ve tasted here, you will never think the same way about olive oil again. After leaving the lake, we continue to Cortona, the town made famous by the book Under the Tuscan Sun. Here we have time for a short walking tour of this charming town, and possibly visit the Basilica of Santa Margherita and Le Celle hermitage, and/or have time to explore the town on our own. Overnight in Arezzo, Tuscany.

DAY 12 - May 25: La Verna

Today we hike the Franciscan Trail to La Verna, another significant Franciscan center of Italy. The Sanctuary of La Verna, which sits on Monte Penna, was given to St. Francis by Count Orlando of Chiusi in 1213 as a retreat especially favorable for contemplation amidst nature. We will hike in silence through this old-growth, magical, spruce-beech forest, enjoying its soundscape. Here we see the art of della Robbia and visit the site where St. Francis is said to have received the stigmata. We celebrate our trip together with a farewell lunch in the monastery, before we drive back to our hotel where we have a final group aperitif and prepare for train departures the next day. Dinner is on our own this evening (at participants’ expense) in order to offer time for packing and menu choices for our last night. Hiking distance: 4 miles, +1,300-1,800 feet. Overnight in Arezzo.

DAY 13 - May 26: Departure from Arezzo

After breakfast, participants can depart from Arezzo by train to Rome, Florence, or other cities to either fly home or further explore the wonders of Italy.


What is included in the trip

  • Lodging with private bath in small inns and an agriturismo
  • All meals (except one dinner)
  • On-trip transportation

What is not included

  • International airfare to and from Italy
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips for drivers and guides

What is not included