The Way of Loreto, or Via Lauretana, is a route in stages that can be done on foot and by bike on an ancient Marian pilgrimage route, which goes from Assisi to Loreto. It is part of the journey that in the Middle Ages the faithful made from Rome to visit the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto. Initially it was identified with the Via Flaminia that started from Rome and reached Foligno. While the Via Flaminia continued northwards, in Foligno a stretch of the road came off and became the “Lauretana” proper, which, through the Umbria-Marche Apennines, reached Loreto. It is a beautiful day walk, or a 7-stage trek for about 140 km, or even an itinerary to be done by bicycle, with a route that crosses cities and forests, between nature and spirituality, sacred and secular places. There are also significant stops from the point of view of food and wine (we are in central Italy, beauty!).
In Via Lauretana on foot and by bike
The Via Lauretana is an excellent starting point for a multi-stage excursion. The route offered pilgrims and wayfarers in transit the possibility of shelter and assistance in numerous facilities along the way. These structures were often managed by confraternities or religious orders. Even today it is possible to follow this path and stay in hostels or convents, for those who prefer hotels.
Via Lauretana, walking route from Perugia to Loreto
The two ends of the Via Lauretana are Assisi and Loreto, two of the oldest pilgrimage destinations in Italy: on the one hand the city of San Francesco, on the other the country that houses the Holy House of Nazareth. It connects them to an itinerary that offers the traveller sceneries of rare beauty, from the still uncontaminated nature of the Apennine woods, to the green valleys of Umbria and Marche, to the many places rich in history and culture.
The Via Lauretana is an itinerary not only for believers, but for all those who want to experience a different kind of relaxation from that offered by the usual holiday packages.
Via Lauretana, the route
Even today it is possible to walk or cycle along this road to experience a cultural and spiritual journey capable of renewing the pilgrim inwardly, not only for the effort required to travel, but also for the deep emotion that arises in the face of the beauty of so many landscapes surrounded by magical silences.
Via Lauretana, the stages
The route, which crosses Umbria and the Marches, is divided into seven stages of varying length and difficulty:
– stage 1 – from Assisi to Spello (Foligno)
– stage 2 – from Spello (Foligno) to Colfiorito
– stage 3 – from Colfiorito to Muccia (Camerino)
– stage 4 – from Muccia (Camerino) to Belforte del Chienti
– stage 5 – from Belforte del Chienti to Tolentino
– stage 6 – from Tolentino to Macerata
– stage 7 – from Macerata to Loreto
Here is the detail of the various stages
Via Lauretana: stage 1 Assisi – Spello (Foligno)
Distance: 13,5 km to Spello; 19,4 km to Foligno
Time: 3 h and 30 min. in Spello; 5 h in Foligno
Difficulty: easy route on asphalt and dirt roads, also suitable for cyclists on mountain bikes or hybrid bikes.
Via Lauretana: stage 2 Spello (Foligno) – Colfiorito
Distance: 27 km from Spello; 24,6 km from Foligno
Time: 8 h and 30 min. from Spello; 8 h from Foligno
Difficulty: very demanding from Spello; demanding from Foligno
Bottom: asphalt, dirt road and path
It is the most demanding stage in terms of length and difficulty of the route, but it is also the most striking from the point of view of landscape and the least man-made.
Cyclists will encounter a couple of criticalities.
Via Lauretana: stage 3 Colfiorito – Muccia (Camerino)
Distance: 18,1 km to Muccia; 23 km to Camerino
Time: 4 h and 30 min. in Muccia; 6 h in Camerino
Bottom: asphalt and dirt (Muccia); asphalt and little dirt (Camerino)
These are two historical routes. Camerino, in particular, is one of the most interesting medieval centers.
For cyclists, the route does not present any particular difficulties.
Via Lauretana: stage 4 Muccia (Camerino) – Belforte del Chienti
Distance: 24,7 km from Muccia; 18 km from Camerino
Time: 8 h from Muccia; 4h5 from Camerino
Difficulty: difficult (Muccia); easy (Camerino)
Bottom: asphalt and gravel (Muccia); asphalt (Camerino)
The route from Camerino is the least busy, with abundant vegetation and a wealth of views.
Via Lauretana: stage 5 Belforte del Chienti – Tolentino
Distance: 8,4 km
Time: 2 h
Difficulty: very easy
Being a short and flat route, it is worth spending a little more time for a stop in Tolentino.
For cyclists, there is no particular problem with obstacles that can easily be overcome.
Via Lauretana: stage 6 Tolentino – Macerata
Distance: 22 km
Time: 5 h and 30 min.
It is pleasant to cross the neat and well-cultivated countryside. It is worth making a detour to visit the splendid Fiastra Abbey.
Cyclists will have to pay attention to traffic.
Via Lauretana: stage 7 Macerata – Loreto
Distance: 23.4 km
Time: 6 h
The last stage is characterized by varied altimetry with a few flat stretches and can therefore be a bit challenging. The sections of shadow, the churches and the historical buildings that this route offers will mitigate the difficulty anyway.
Cyclists must pay particular attention to traffic.
Via Lauretana: maps and useful information
For more information on the itinerary you can buy guides that include detailed maps, the description of the route, the altitude, the places to see and where to stay.
The naturalistic, artistic and spiritual insights contained therein will provide less expert pilgrims with useful interpretations of this rich layout.