Henri Craemer | Stage 16: Forward to Foligno
Stage 16 of the Way of St Francis between Assisi is easy going. The route is extended into Stage 17 and ends in Foligno and not Spello. This is a personal account of the journey.
Cammino di San Francesco, Assisi, Way of St Francis, Spello, hiking, trekking, walking, Stage 16
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Spello from the Via Poeta (Photo: © Henri Craemer)

Stage 16: Forward to Foligno

We start the second half of the Cammino di San Francesco at the dawn of 8 September 2017. Italy is still on daylight savings time. With Assisi at latitude 43ᵒ4’ North and longitude 12ᵒ13’ East, I’m not surprised to see a notable shift in sunrise time as the equinox approaches when we rise. We do our usual pre-hiking routine. At least Hotel La Rocca is already up and willing to serve us breakfast.


A Good Start

Of all the days we’ve hiked thus far, I feel in the best shape before starting. The rest day did us a world of good, not only physically, but also spiritually. The backpack must weigh the same – it has the same items as the day we started in Firenze – yet it feels lighter.

The air between Niels and me has been cleared. The friendship has returned.

Basilica di Santa Chiara. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)

Basilica di Santa Chiara. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)


I look at Sandy Brown’s Trekking The Way of St Francis. The Stage 16 destination is given as Spello. There are two alternative routes. The easy one gives the distance* as 13,8km, ascents: 301m, and descents: 429m. It’s still a hilly walk but not quite as much the trek into Assisi. The hard route only adds 3,8km, but the ascents and descents are dramatically increased – 925m and 1024m respectively.

Niels and I discuss the route we’ll be hiking. He reminds me that we won’t be stopping in Spello. We shall go on to Foligno. According to Caminoways that distance is given as 20km. Looking at the map of the extended route on the first part of Stage 17, ascents and descents seem nothing to worry about. Clearly, we two old codgers will opt for the easy route.

The air is crisp as we take to the alleys of Assisi, making our way to where we saw the waymarks yesterday. We make our way through an arch on what we think is the first on the way to the Porta Nuova. We soon find out we’re on the wrong way. I just smile. It’s become almost customary to lose the path at least once on a stage. In the process, we see some stunning views.


Easy Going from Assisi to Spello

We make the necessary course correction. Passing the Basilica di Santa Chiara, the route leads us to the third gate – Porta Nuova. We find our way out of Assisi. It’s not too long before Parco di Monte Subasio with its the beauty and silence of envelops us. Near the Fosso Delle Carceri we see hammocks under trees. We feel good enough to resist this very tempting sight.

The temptation of hammocks under trees on the road between Assisi and Spello near the Fosso delle Carceri. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)

The temptation of hammocks under trees on the road between Assisi and Spello near the Fosso Delle Carceri. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)


Time flies as we walk the ever-changing path from gravel to asphalt, ups and downs, straight stretches and zigzags, and back.

Cyclists entering Spello with us. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)

Cyclists entering Spello with us. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)

The road passes between a house and garage, as per route instructions. We exchange “Buongiorno” greetings with the farmer. I’m not sure whether he’s surprised or annoyed at the sight of two backpackers passing through his land.

We find ourselves wandering through olive groves, onto Via degli Olivi. There is s slight climb up to the Via Poeta (featured image). Baroque-like clouds are rolling in over the distant hills. This view of Spello and the valley is indeed worthy of poetry. Ten minutes later we walk into the town, along a road very popular with cyclists.

We find a small Albergo where we can have lunch. There is hardly place for two seats around a table between the building and the alley. The sun soon chases us to a more comfortable area. It’s only 11:30. Again the innkeeper serves us, even though it’s well before his lunch hour. All it takes is a slight wait for him to prepare our tagliatelle.


Stage 17 Begins

At around 12:30 it’s on with the backpacks and forward to Foligno. Through the town we take in a few of the sights. We leave old part Spello, passing the Porta Consolare. Soon we’re in suburbia. There is no one on the streets except a woman with a child, peacefully sleeping in a pushchair.

The noisiest part between the two towns is crossing the SS75. At 14:01 we reach the Topino River, the natural line between the old centre of Foligno and its outskirts. The bridge has several flags with different emblems on each side. We stop over the middle of the river. Niels points out the trout swimming in the stream.

Soon after we’ve crossed the bridge, we find a Bar-Ristorante and take in liquid refreshments. We are just a few blocks away from our hotel, but we’ll wait a while before checking in. There is a sense of satisfaction at having completed the day’s journey, and still feeling as good as we do.

Entering Foligno via the Topino River Bridge. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)

Entering Foligno via the Topino River Bridge. (Photo: © Henri Craemer)


*Conversions from Metric to Imperial


3,8km = ~2.4 miles

13,8km = ~8.6 miles

17.6km = ~11.0 miles

20km = ~12.4 miles

301m = ~988’

429m = ~1407’

925m = ~3035’

1024m = ~3360’

  • Judy
    Posted at 05:52h, 02 May

    So fascinating. Just makes you want to follow in your footsteps and go there too Henri.