Tips for those who want to leave
After deciding whether to walk the entire path or only some of its stages, one essential condition remains:
it is essential to be trained in walking, as the stages are on average 23 kilometres long. In some cases, they even reach 34 kilometres, but after each very long stage, this guidebook will basically offer you shorter stages, and in any case recommends a rest day at least once a week.
By consulting the site, it will also be possible for those who wish to break up the stages.
Rest should not be underestimated: ancient pilgrims also practised it. Naturally, the pace to be kept and the length of the stages will have to be calibrated according to one’s personal physical condition, the weather conditions to be encountered and the time available. The walk from the Brenner Pass to Rome presents significant differences in altitude in places. There are Passes to be tackled; the crossing of the Apennines can also present difficulties – for example in bad weather or excessive heat.
What to bring
This is the real dilemma of today’s pilgrim: anyone who has experienced walks lasting many hours knows that a heavy rucksack often causes fatigue and even pain in the shoulders, back and joints.
Before setting off, it should be clear that the rucksack should not weigh more than 10 per cent of one’s body weight. A 70 kg person should therefore carry a rucksack weighing less than 7 or 8 kg. Reducing the weight of the backpack is the result of experience but also of reflection before the pilgrimage. We therefore advise you to consider, in the days leading up to departure, what you really need.
Remember that a light, space-saving sleeping bag will be necessary. But in summer, if you always stay indoors, a sleeping bag may suffice. Remember that, especially in summer, you will need a head covering and technical clothing that does not retain sweat. In the other seasons, it is important to be prepared for the rain. We therefore recommend that you bring a suitable windbreaker, but also a cape or poncho to cover you and your rucksack. As for clothing, you will need: a set of technical underwear, at least four T-shirts of a specific fabric, a pair of long trousers and a pair of shorts, socks or knee socks.
Footwear deserves a separate chapter. We would advise against starting out with new, never-before-used shoes. Not only is it not possible to know beforehand how they would behave during the long hours of walking, but they could also force a definitive stop, causing the dreaded blisters or abrasions on the extremities. Keep in mind that, on bad weather days, a well-sealed boot is ideal for protecting your feet. Many sections of the route are on unpaved roads, in some cases mountain paths, which must be approached with due caution. For those who tackle many stages and days of walking, it is probably best to have two pairs of shoes: a heavier pair for days of bad weather or rough trails, and a lighter pair for days on asphalt.
You should also not lack a water bottle and a small first aid kit in your rucksack, with a pair of scissors, plasters, a few bandages, disinfectant and any medications you deem necessary. Along the Via Romea you will never be in places far from civilisation, so pharmacies and shops are usually close at hand. Finally, you will need at least a towel (the light, roll-up microfibre ones are excellent) and a small bag with the necessities for personal hygiene.
This is the minimum indispensable equipment, but the possibility of bringing a few other items should be considered. Definitely indispensable are sunglasses from spring to autumn. A torch or torch, preferably of the frontal type, is also useful. In these times of digital technology, not everyone carries a camera; instead, it is recommended that THE GERMAN ROMAN ROAD – FROM THE BRENNER TO ROME 21 carry a penknife, perhaps of the multi-purpose type, a lighter in case an emergency fire is needed, and a plastic compass: it can be used to orientate maps, and is of little bulk and weight.
When crossing the Plain and wetlands, it is good to have mosquito sprays with you.
Here again, your personal experience is of crucial help.
However, if you have never ridden long distances over several consecutive days, it would be worth asking your mechanic for advice. First of all, remember that this Via takes place on mixed routes, with asphalt but also dirt roads. It is therefore not advisable to tackle it with a road racing bike, with thin tubular tyres. In addition, the bicycle must be equipped with sturdy luggage racks and panniers. In addition to the personal equipment described above, the cyclist should of course have at least a puncture kit and a small supply of tools, although along the route you will pass through many villages and towns where you can get assistance in case of problems. The minimum equipment should include a spare pair of inner tubes, a set of spanners or a multi-hole spanner, at least one brake and shift wire, a small pliers, a screwdriver, a tensioner and a chain breaker.
Everything necessary for personal safety is important: always wear a helmet, check the condition of lights and reflectors, preferably the battery type. Carry a high-visibility reflective jacket, which will be especially useful in the evening hours and out-of-town areas. Needless to say, it is good to have at least two water bottles.