We are dedicated to creating a supporting system of hostels and infrastructure to aid pilgrims of all economic and spiritual backgrounds on their passage along the Via Francigena. We plan to do this by integrating existing and building new non-profit, donation-based hostels into an unbroken chain, allowing a walk with the option of cheap or free accommodations every night. In addition, we intend to maintain the authenticity of the culture and regional influences by moving to hand successful hostels over to community leaders and young volunteers, in order to keep the Via Francigena Italian, and owned by Italians.
Our first donativo hostel will be in Capranica, on the northern route. We've bought the apartment, have remodeled, and are only awaiting the arrival of the bunk beds and the lifting of travel restrictions. This will be a smaller location, able to accommodate six to seven pilgrims at a time. We plan to welcome pilgrims with a cooked dinner as well as offering a simple breakfast, all based solely on anonymous donations. The facilities will include a 3-bunk dorm for the pilgrims with an optional futon, a shared kitchen, and a full size bathroom with shower, bidet, and washing machine. This structure will be owned by Travis, our founder, and rented to Road to Rome at a rate up to its monthly cost at a maximum, or zero at a minimum, ensuring that Road to Rome always has a home here.
Our upcoming location in Capranica!
All donations from this location will go toward the monthly costs, with any overage being set aside for our planned second location, in Sutri. This will be a larger existing structure, which we plan to buy, restore, and renovate. It should house 36 to 44 pilgrims when finished, with an outdoor seating and socializing area, as well as a small garden for growing our own vegetables and drying clothes. Existing photos show the building to need a lot of work, but the walls and primary beams are all in sound condition. Our estimate for the final cost of the purchase plus repairs is $190,000 to $210,000 USD.
The approach from the Via Francigena
Stairs to the upper level. Just off camera to the right, there is a well-built fence and a shed. We plan a terrace here.
The ceiling beams look rough, but are in good condition. They should be beautiful in the restored building.
An overview of our finished idea for Sutri
Ground Floor plan of the Sutri location
Upper Floor plan of the Sutri location
Interior view of the Sutri location
If that proves too expensive based on our donations, we would instead get a smaller apartment for Sutri, similar to the Capranica location. Then we would be able to grow, one apartment at a time, until we reach the capacity needed to house roughly 40 pilgrims. In this eventuality, we have already scouted over a dozen possible locations as shown below, plus more since this map was made. In this case, our favorite apartment is a 2 bedroom 2 bath for 55,000 euro.
Some of the possible locations for smaller Sutri hostels.
Then we'll plan to fill in the final 100km of the Northern route. We plan to build in the following order, if possible: Sutri, La Storta, Vetralla, Viterbo, Roma, Campagnano di Roma. This order is based on feedback from several pilgrims we've spoken with about which towns were the most difficult to find affordable lodging in, as well as my own experience on my journey on the Via Francigena. In places where existing donativos are operational, we plan instead to partner with them. Currently, only Campagnano has its own donativo. Also, we are hoping to work with other like-minded people we have recently contacted, who aim to build their own hostel in Vetralla.
After that, we'll expand to the North through Tuscany as seen below. We hope to have this accomplished within 5 to 10 years.
Finally, we'll take the Northern route all the way to the Swiss border, and expand the Southern route as far as Bari or Brindisi, based on pilgrim numbers. This of course is a life-long plan.