Since the 11th century, the Adriatic section of the ancient Via Francigena has also been called Via Romea to indicate its final destination: Rome.

Albert was born in the late 12th century and became abbot in 1232 of the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Virgin Mary in Stade, then an important Hanseatic port city located at the mouth of the Elbe River in Germany. In the monastery, which was highly influential due to its land holdings, Abbot Albert recognized the need to incorporate a stricter ecclesiastical discipline modeled after Cistercian rules.

After obtaining permission from Pope Gregory IX in Rome, he began his journey to Rome, the center of Christianity. The Pope gave his approval to the desired reform, but the brothers and the archbishop in charge, the archbishop of Bremen, rejected it, more interested in a balance of power with the House of Welf than in further efforts to reform the monastery. Disappointed, Albert resigned and entered the convent of the Friars Minor of St. John (dedicated to the Franciscan ideal of poverty) in the city of Stade.

Here, in addition to some theological works, he devoted himself to writing the Annales, a Latin chronicle of the most important ecclesiastical and political events of his time. In this work is included the dialog between the two monks Tirri and Firri on the best ways for a pilgrimage to Rome. In the dialogue, written in the form of a story, as was often the case in the Middle Ages, the abbot gives various itineraries, with precise data on the places to be crossed, the condition of the roads, and exact indications of the length of each stop in German miles.

Abbot Albert’s journey is now the official route of the Via Romea Germanica.

The route started from the Brenner Pass and traveled through Veneto and Romagna. At Faenza, Forlì and Cesena it took several branches to cross the Apennines and reach Tuscany. From Forlì the route crosses the Bidente Valley: the first town encountered is Meldola, and then continues to Cusercoli, Civitella di Romagna, Galeata, Santa Sofia, and Campigna.

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