The ancient Via Lauretana is, along with Via Francigena and Via Romea,historically one of the main Italian and European pilgrimage routes.
The ancient Via Lauretana is the historic route that has connected Rome with Loreto since the 1300s, thereby uniting the major centres of Christianity. The original trail started in Rome and after crossing the Lazio uplands and Umbria arrived at Colfiorito, where the Sibillini mountains welcomed pilgrims with views of great spiritual intensity. From here it proceeded to Loreto, passing through art cities and towns, valleys and farmed countryside, surrounded by the beauties of creation and also those fashioned at the hands of humankind. The Marche Region currently has high hopes for this project as a means of revitalising and regenerating the inland areas, especially those in the area of the crater, given that the route largely winds its way inside this territory. At the present time the trail that joins Assisi to Loreto is practicable, with 7 sections, 5 of which are in the Marche (Colfiorito, Muccia, Belforte del Chienti, Tolentino and Macerata) ultimately reaching Loreto after having also passed through Camerino, Muccia, Abbadia di Fiastra e Pollenza, Montecassiano, Montelupone and Recanati.
The “Cammino Francescano della Marca” meanders its way through 167 km, 8 sections, two Regions, Marche and Umbria, and 16 Municipalities, including 13 in the Marche: Serravalle del Chienti, Muccia, Valfornace, Caldarola, Cessapalombo, Fiastra, San Ginesio, Sarnano, Amandola, Comunanza, Palmiano, Venarotta and Ascoli Piceno. The trail, set out along dirt roads and tracks, retraces the places where St. Francis delivered his preachings on his way to the southern Marche, passing through areas of high artistic and naturalist interest and through historic centres and religious places that partly map the sections of Apennine transhumance and partly overlap the via Lauretana and the minor Franciscan roads.
Every year a walk lasting one week is organised from Ascoli Piceno to Serravalle del Chienti, then moving into Umbria and Assisi and which retraces the road taken by St. Francis in 1215, joining the sanctuary of Assisi with the Sepulchre of Sant’Emidio d’Ascoli, the protector against earthquakes.