After a gap of 18 months since my last walk ( The Via de la Plata and Camino Sanabrés), it was time for me to pull out my backpack, buy some new socks and catch a plane back to Europe for another pilgrimage walk.

This time I’ve decided to walk along part of the Via Romea Germanica. The full route is shown in red in the map below. I’m planning to walk about half of the route, from Innsbruck in Austria down to Rome. At 1,040km, this should take me around 6 weeks starting in mid April 2018.

pilgrim routes of Europe
Map by Rodolfo Valentini with the Via Romea Germanica in red

My interest in this route was triggered by the publishing in 2016 of a guide book covering the Italian section. At this stage only an Italian version is available.

La Via Romea Germanica guide book

“Romea” is a medieval term that refers to pilgrims going to Rome. “Germanica” refers to the fact that this was a major route from the Germanic countries in northern Europe. This pilgrimage route is described in a parchment found in a monastery in Wolfenbüttel that dates back to 1236 written by Abbot Albert of Stade. Stade is the town on the Baltic where the route begins.

It also appears in an illustration by Matthew Paris, a 13th century English Benedictine monk.  Kings, popes, crusaders and armies as well as pilgrims traversed this important route.

Matthew paris pilgrim itinerary 1250
Detail from a Matthew Paris itinerary ca 1250. (British Library via Wikimedia)

The Florentine archeologist and anthropologist Giovanni Caselli was instrumental in reviving the route, as he has done previously with the Via Francigena, one of my previous walks (see )

My starting point of Innsbruck is a very pleasant town surrounded by mountains.


There are many old style overhead shop signs.

The beautiful Jacobs Dom or Cathedral of Saint James has a little table with a self service pilgrim’s stamp so my new credential is no longer blank!

Saint James cathedral Innsbruck

The Imperial Palace is well worth a visit to see the original furnishings.

Via romea germanica Innsbruck

Fashion based on traditional Tirolean folk costume is popular.

I had a tasty dish of venison, red cabbage and chestnuts for dinner.

The weather forecast is for warm sunny days for the rest of the week, so I should be off to a good start!

There is a society dedicated to this route and this is their website.

La Via Romea Germanica