VF Day 46-48: The Pilgrim Credential

By on July 23, 2022

There’s something special about carrying this credential everywhere we go and looking for a timbro (stamp). It’s a significant symbol of what we are doing. We are not just on a long walk, we are not backpacking a trail, rather we are on a pilgrimage. In the end, we show this collection of timbri (stamps) for our testimonium from the Pope in Vatican City.

On the Camino Frances there are stamps everywhere. Every bar, cafe, accommodation, roadside stand, lemonade stand, they all want you to have their stamp. They are proud of their unique stamp, many are extremely creative. The booklet of stamps is certainly a cherished memory. Many pilgrims frame their credential. 

I don’t have memories of having difficulty getting stamps on the Caminho Portuguese. We seemed to get them wherever we went. But who knows, the actual collecting of stamps is a forgotten memory.

The very special stamp from Montefiascone to symbolize the last 100 km

On the Via Francigena collecting stamps has been like everything else, a bit challenging. If you stay at an accommodation that is not in the guidebook, for example one you find on booking.com, you should not assume they will have a stamp.

You cannot expect every bar/caffé to have a stamp. Very few bars/caffés have a stamp, but the ones that do are excited to engage with us and give us a timbro. We have encountered many places that even use a return address label for their stamp. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who take great pride in their timbro, I just wish we could find them easier and more often. 

On the Camino Frances, you will find a stamp in every church you visit. It’s usually self-service but no less meaningful. We have been to a few churches this summer where, once we have hunted down those who work there, we found a timbro. 

We attended a Mass in Sarzana and afterwards we asked a nun for a timbro and she had no idea what we were asking for. Fortunately, a parishioner told us that we could find a timbro at a pizza place about 400 meters away. The pizza place owner was quite nice and even offered us each a free bottle of water. Water is never free in Italy. 

For our final rest day we stayed at a hotel just 400 meters off of the Via Francigena and we didn’t even bother to ask for a timbro. It was a fancy hotel, I promise, they didn’t have a stamp. 

I’m not going to let it ruin my mood. I am thankful for this opportunity to travel through Switzerland and Italy on pilgrimage. It’s my fault for comparing it to other pilgrimages we’ve completed. It’s also our fault for not staying in the pilgrim hostel. I know there are pilgrimages that are more remote and every pilgrimage is different. However, collecting stamps is a part of our daily life on pilgrimage so it’s worth discussing. 

When we get into a conversation with locals about the Via Francigena, they are quite interested in this pilgrimage. The locals have made us feel extremely welcome the entire time we’ve been here. It’s surprising how many don’t know about the Via Francigena but I’m sure it’s the same at home if I asked people if they knew the Buckeye Trail went through our hometown. 

This isn’t about the people, rather the experience of collecting timbri to show when we arrive in Vatican City to get our testimonium. I don’t want anyone to question if we walked the 100 kilometers required to get a testimonium.

Only 7 spots left and this credential is full!

Yes, we’ll frame our stinky, a bit worn, edges bent, sweat blotted credential next to our testimonium. We’ll relish in the memories created to get each timbri.

Wouldn’t it be great if every trail included the joy of collecting stamps along the way. ❤️

Walking stats from Viterbo to Vetralla – 16.94 km

  • Lodging at Albergo da Benedetta – €50 (discount for pilgrim and non working A/C)

Walking stats from Vetralla to Sutri – 19.26 km

  • Lodging at Radici Etrusche Sutri – €65

Walking stats from Sutri to Campagnano di Roma – 

  • Lodging at Ostello Campagnano includes food for dinner – €50


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