The Way of Loreto Pilgrimage – Via Lauretana
The Via Lauretana – the Way of Loreto – is an ancient Italian Camino across Umbria from Assisi to the Holy House of Mary (Santa Casa di Loreto) in Loreto. A Marian pilgrimage, the Via Lauretana begins at the city of San Francesco and concludes at the Basilica of the Holy House (Basilica della Santa Casa), built to enclose and protect the Holy House in mid-15th century.
By tradition, the Holy House of Mary was carried by angels to escape ruin in the Holy Land (although more likely it was transported on ships by Knights Templar and Crusaders) and brought to Loreto in December 1294. Believed to be the home in which where the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Annunciation), the shrine is under the direct authority and protection of the Pope.
The Via Lauretana Pilgrimage
The walk for pilgrims proceeds through the Appennine Mountains and can be rather strenuous in terms of elevation gains and distances. The Via Lauretana is roughly 140km and divisible into seven stages of varied length and difficulty:
Stage 1 – from Assisi to Spello
Stage 2 – from Spello to Colfiorito
Stage 3 – from Colfiorito to Muccia
Stage 4 – from Muccia to 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
Maps and GPS Route Files for the Via Lauretana Stages (BELOW)
Via Lauretana: stage 1 Assisi – Spello (GPS/GPX)
Distance: 13 km
The pilgrimage begins at the fourteenth-century gate of San Pietro, south-western access to the city of Assisi, not far from the abbey church of the same name which was founded by the Benedictines between the tenth and eleventh centuries, then rebuilt in the early thirteenth century.
Via Lauretana: stage 2 Foligno – Colfiorito (GPS/GPX)
Total ascent: 1146 m
Total descent: 668 m
Notes: In the San Giovanni Profiamma area (between Treggio and Belfiore), take the path that allows you to cross the Via Flaminia about 500 meters away.
Via Lauretana: stage 3 Colfiorito – Muccia (GPS/GPX)
Distance: 18 km to Muccia
Total ascent: 301 meters
Total descent: 615 meters
Via Lauretana: stage 4 Muccia – Camerino – Belforte del Chienti (GPS/GPX)
Distance: 30 km
Accumulated ascent: 873 m
Accumulated descent: 985 m
Via Lauretana: stage 5 Belforte del Chienti – Tolentino (GPS/GPX)
Distance: 9 km
Accumulated ascent: 88 m
Accumulated descent: 212 m
Via Lauretana: stage 6 Tolentino – Macerata (GPS/GPX)
Distance: 33 km (includes 7KM recommended bus transfer)
Total ascent: 811 meters
Total descent: 739 meters
Notes: It is advisable to travel the stretch from Abbadia di Fiastra to Macerata by public transport, bypassing a stretch of road of about 1 km with a high density of auto traffic. Tickets can be purchased directly at the Information Office in Abbadia.
Via Lauretana: stage 7 Macerata – Loreto (GPS/GPX)
Distance: 31 km
Via Lauretana: maps and useful information
Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.
My recent treks include the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain as well as section hiking along the Florida Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Provided I can do so safely, in 2021 I’m walking the California Missions Trail in the United States, as well as England’s ancient Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury. Afterward, I’ll begin the Via Francigena, the historic way in Europe connecting Canterbury to Rome.