First Field Test on the Way of St. Benedict

General Information

Following the field tests carried out on the French Way of St. James aimed at publishing the first universal guide, SANTIAGO PER TUTTI (Santiago for All), released by Terre di Mezzo in March 2015, Free Wheels Onlus is now involved in the SA.BE.R Universal project intended to develop an accessible tourism offer both on the Way of St. James and St. Benedict, the latter being the Patron Saint of Europe. Due to the earthquake that hit Amatrice and the sorrounding area on August 24th, 2016 thus severly affecting the Umbria areas along the Way, the field test had to be split in two stages. On September 2016, Free Wheels started in Rieti and covered the entire route to Cassino. The way runs through the provinces of Rome and Frosinone on paved and safe roads passing by the places located along the walking route.

Facts and figure of the Way of St. Benedict

  • 370 km of which 270 km covered by handbike, electrically powered wheel chair, bike and a minivan
  • 14 days and 4 people to assess the accessibility of the area
  • 1 region and 3 provinces crossed
  • 36 towns and villages surveyed
  • ~ 150 accommodation geo-referenced
  • ~ 1500 points of interest geo-referenced

Our team

Two skilled IT people created a data base of 221 accommodations addressing each and every municipality on the territory. The data base was complemented with recently opened accommodation detected during the field test.

Three people with a surveying experience on the Way of St. James and Via Francigena and familiar with persons with special needs assessed the accessibility of accommodations, services and route features coordinated by the responsible of the project, Pietro Scidurlo, a mobility-impaired person and co-author of the guide Santiago per Tutti.

A coordinator/qualified translator developed the assessment sheets for the evaluation of the route, accommodations and services together with Pietro and the foreign partners of the SA.BE.R Project.

Assessment of the route

The entire area is marked by hills and mountains, the lack of Accessibility Plans and/or measures to remove architectural barriers by the public administration. This provided us with a clear picture of the actual complexity we would face. The only reliable source of information we could obtain was the guide to The Way of St. Benedict by Simone Frigani, published by Terre di Mezzo.

Additionally, the Association of the Friends of the Way of St. Benedict coordinated by Maurizio Forte supported us in the day-to-day contacts with the local administration thus making us the survey of the larger towns easier.

The section of the route covered runs entirely through the Latium region; it is marked by hills, long stretches along valleys and upland as well as challenging ascents to reach the towns that provide accommodations facilities. The assessment was carried out on approx. 70% of the entire route.

Assessment of services and accommodation facilities

In respect of the accessibility of services and accommodations, the situation is not brilliant. Services have been evaluated as accessible/unaccessible or partially accessible according to the following criteria: no hindrance to access the facility, a spacious and/or adapted WC or just one of the criteria.

The points of interest with relevant waypoints concerning the services evaluated will be completed in short.

With regard to the accommodation facilities, the picture is not encouraging: only 15,43% is accessible, 36% is unaccessible, 13,14% is difficult to access and 35,43% could not be assessed as the facility was closed or not interested in the project.

Legs Accessible Accom Unaccessible Accom Partially accessible Accom Accom not evaluated Total Route Average % of accessibility






Rieti – Cassino




The picture is gloomy, however a complete and detailed survey of the territory lays the foundations to develop quality reception facilities without discrimination.

Conclusions and results

Until a few years ago, people with special needs could not possibly think of experiencing a cultural/religious/touristic route. The Guide “Santiago per Tutti” marked a turning point in terms of the accurate and reliable information provided which is still consistent for the majority of accommodations that may be subject to changes over time.

The results achieved sofar on the Way of St. Benedict are:

The first walking route surveyed in Italy: 270 km entirely on paved roads between Rieti and Cassino

An accurate and geo-referenced survey of the existing services and accommodations and their relevant level of accessibility

A precise indication of the critical issues to carry out targeted actions

An opportunity to increase awareness among public administration, tourism providers and local communities active along these culturale routes.

A detailed picture to start from to design adapted destination packages

An objective assessment of the equipments available to design adapted packages: electrically powered wheel chair, manual or hybrid handbike, etc.

First Field Test on the Way of St. Benedict carried out by Free Wheels onlus on September  2016
First stage Rieti – Cassino

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