Emerging Travel Writer Carla Mackey on her new book: Via Francigena: Pilgrimage from Lucca to Rome (Pilgrimages of Europe)

Several years ago, Carla walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain—it was one of the most wonderful things she’d ever done. She fell in love with the “slow travel” aspect of walking or biking your way through a region, as opposed to quick stops via tour bus or by cruise ship. She found slow travel to be a much more spiritually healthy way to take in your surroundings. Carla learned, that by exploring a region in this way, you were given the gift of experiencing a foreign place at your leisure, allowing you to savor the uniqueness of the local culture, learn a bit of their language and experience their everyday life.

While in Spain, she met an Italian man who suggested she walk the Via Francigena, and knowing her experience in Spain was something she wanted to repeat, she began to make plans for another walking journey. The Via Francigena is an older, more historic route than the Camino de Santiago and not as well-known or traveled. Carla began her preparations by reading everything she could about the route, but found there really wasn’t much written, and more importantly, what she did find didn’t seem to include the route as it is today or what to expect if one were to travel that route. With all that in mind and her desire to share and promote the slow travel movement, Carla decided to write her own guidebook based on her pilgrimage from Lucca to Rome along the Via Francigena.

“Why Walk the Via Francigena?

For those of us who love to walk, it’s easy to leave the comforts of our homes and our cozy beds to embark on a pilgrimage. Walking the ancient Via Francigena provides a rich experience for the mind, the body, and the soul. Unlike alpine hiking or traditional backpacking, walking the Via Francigena allows one to enjoy the serenity of long, quiet, contemplative days spent enjoying the rhythm of our footsteps and the sounds of nature — knowing that at the end of each day, there will be a lovely, interesting town, a delicious meal, and a warm bed. One can admire the ancient churches that remind us we are just the latest in centuries of pilgrims passing this way. Walking along trails through a variety of farms, groves, and forests, dotted with archaeological ruins, castles, and ancient villages, provides a slow-moving slideshow of this gorgeous land. And there is no nicer way to meet the Italians who live in these wonderful small towns, which Americans rarely visit.

Finally, and most profoundly, going on a pilgrimage makes it easy to connect with a deep and lasting sense of gratitude, humility, and simplicity of life.”

Via Francigena: Pilgrimage from Lucca to Rome (Pilgrimages of Europe) details her 250 mile walking tour, and is formatted as a guidebook and journal. It contains all the information one needs to plan their own pilgrimage, including detailed information about each stage of the walk, color photos, and maps showing distance and elevation. In addition, Carla includes a history of Via Francigena and its importance as one of the most significant caminos in Europe. The guidebook is the perfect size to carry in your pack or pocket, allowing easy reference at each stage of your journey. Although it’s more suitable to use in paperback form, it will be available in eBook format this summer. The book is currently available at https://www.amazon.com/Via-Francigena-Pilgrimage-Pilgrimages-Europe/dp/0692093796/ and will soon be available locally at Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor Book Co. in Winslow.

A bit about Carla and writing: After many years visiting relatives on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound, Carla realized that her life in Southern California, while nice, wasn’t the place she wanted or needed to be. The sheer natural beauty, wonderful people and abundance of sailing and hiking opportunities of the Puget Sound called to her and in 2006, Carla, her husband Doug and their son made the move to Bainbridge Island where they reside today.

“I absolutely could NOT have done this without BARN.”

Initially, Carla believed that writing a guide book would be a relatively simple project that would take a few months to complete, however she soon learned that wasn’t the case. Research, organizing her thoughts and notes, deciding what was most important to include and settling on the format all turned out to be a daunting task. Fortunately for Carla, she was well-acquainted with the writers at BARN (Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network)—as she’s been the Membership Coordinator at BARN for more than three years—and she turned to them for help. These talented people, most of whom are professional writers themselves, were happy to impart their knowledge and experience, supporting Carla in every aspect of the project. Carla is excited to continue her work with BARN not only on a professional level, but also on her next book.

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