The Way of St Francis has many levels of accommodations for pilgrims, from hostels to hotels and everything in between, including rifugios (mountain hostels) agriturismo, convents (monasteries) guest apartments and bed & breakfasts, just to name a few.

San Pietro in Vignetto. One of the few pilgrim-only hostels, also a Donativo. Run by the Association of St. James in Italy.

For people who have walked the Camino de Santiago with its hundreds of pilgrim-only albergues (hostels), where in the past it was easy and expected to simply show up and obtain a bed in a dormitory, there is a critical differences with the Way of St. Francis. First, and most importantly, along the Way of St. Francis, there are very few accommodations that are dedicated only for pilgrims and the often-limited space is available to anyone, whether they arrive by car or foot. On weekends or holidays lodging fills up quickly.

A second, and equally important difference, is that hosts expect to be contacted in advance, either by phone or email. One can, on occasion, simply “show up” but the host may not be available or lodging may be full. It is expected to make reservations ahead of time. The question is, how far ahead of time?

La Foresta, or convent hotel, at La Verna.

I think it comes down to assurance (security) versus flexibility. If you make all of your lodging arrangements ahead of time, then you are assured of a place to stay. But you sacrifice flexibility. When my wife and I first walked in 2019, we booked everything ahead for two weeks; when we wanted to change our plans after the first day of walking, we were locked into our reservations for the entire time, which we regretted. It all worked out okay in the end (we bused to our next place) but we decided to do it differently in 2019 and only booked a day or two out, with a few exceptions:

  • We always book our first night’s lodging, even the first two. Depending on the time of year, we do that as soon as we can. has a “cancellable reservation” filter and I always book something cancellable, just so I have a place. After that I may do more research and might change my mind, which I did this past year.
  • We booked places that may be in high demand well ahead of time. For example, we were planning to be in La Verna on Easter, a very busy season, so I booked that about four months in advance. An email reservation and confirmation was sufficient.

Booking just a few days in advance meant we sometimes were out of luck. We did find more than once that a place was unavailable, but we found other, sometimes better options in the end. For example, we tried to book a place in Consuma but either found hosts out of town and their place unavailable, or accommodations full. But we were then offered a place in Villa, about 7k ahead of Consuma, something we would not have considered. Elena, our host, even gave us a ride there, from Consuma. It turned out to be one of our favorite places and experiences. They gave us two meals and lots of good conversation. And then they recommended our next stay and then phoned ahead for us.

Rifugio San Jacobo, in Villa. Church is from about the 11th century

I do my research in advance, comparing lists of lodging. Several of those are online and the links are at the bottom of this post. I also consulted three guidebooks. I prefer using places that are recommended in guidebooks or in the lists that are online, since they are supporting the pilgrimage route. Some of those places are also listed on, which makes the process very easy, since there is no issue with language. Otherwise, I try email, and if that’s not available, then I phone. You may need to have some basic Italian for that! If you make direct contact by email or phone, that is often all you need to do; no need to give a credit card.

Dining Room at Casa Santicchio, a few kilometers before Rimbocchi. A good option to make the last hike into La Verna only about 7k.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Hosts can make you a lunch, but ask for that when you make your reservation. They can also call ahead for you, saving time and issues of communication.
  • Some places have a top-notch breakfast that will fill you up for hours. Some simply provide toast and coffee, and prepackaged items such as yogurt or sweets
  • Wifi may or may not be available. It’s a good idea to get a mobile phone plan with data. I get a SIM card from TIM. 50G data cost me 20 euros. Having an Italian phone number also helps with making phone reservations.
  • Some places will hold a duffel or suitcase for you. This is helpful if you have to check walking poles, as I always do.
  • Some places require cash; some take credit card; some give a discount if you pay in cash. Often there is an extra head tax required by the locality of one or two euros, which you need to pay in cash.
  • In small towns, fewer people speak English. In larger towns you may find more English speakers. Younger people often have some English. Italy also has many immigrants from all over the world and I found that more of them had English than I would have expected!
  • A room in Italian is camera a very confusing cognate for English speakers.
  • A convent in Italy is a monastery, either for men or women.
Breakfast at Hotel Alinari, in Florence. Best breakfast in Italy!

Lodging lists and recommendations:

Russ Eanes is a writer/walker/cyclist from Harrisonburg, VA and the author of The Walk of a Lifetime: 500 Miles on the Camino de Santiago. He has a forthcoming book about walking the Way of St. Francis.

2 thoughts on “How to find lodging on the Way of St. Francis

  1. We booked everything on the Way of St Francis (May 1-28, 2022) well ahead of time on and still found some places unavailable. It all worked out, but we were not able to stay in any convents or pilgrim lodging. This is indeed the trickiest part of the walk, and would have been expensive except that I had a walking partner to share expenses with. We had to figure out many things on the trail; this is a ‘graduate level’ cammino. It was physically hard in the mountains but a marvelous experience.

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