An article in BBC Travel called my attention to the Via Francigena, which I had not previously read about.
I was walking through a centuries-old village in northern Tuscany with not another human in sight. To my right, a few horses grazed in a large paddock. To my left, beyond an old stone house that looked as though it had stood for hundreds of years, a thick copse expanded into a forest of oak, chestnut, holly and ash trees. There was no sound except the buzzing of insects and the drumbeat of my feet hitting the path – a path that, I realised, had become harder underfoot. I stopped and bent down, my pack weighing heavily on my back. Peering through the dirt and moss, I could see bits of stone, like hundreds of disjointed puzzle pieces leading me ahead. I had stumbled upon an ancient Roman road.The Wikipedia entry has much more information about the route.
I was on day two of walking the Via Francigena, a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage route that extends around 2,000km from the English city of Canterbury all the way to Rome. Its name is a nod to the fact that it travels through France, but during its history the route was also known as the Via Romea for the city where it ends...
The Via Francigena became, for the most part, forgotten, although sections remained in use as local roads and footpaths... In 1994, the Via Francigena became one of the Council of Europe’s designated Cultural Routes.