Rome to Jerusalem Planning
On this page you will find information and links to resources that I have found useful as I am planning my walk from Rome to Jerusalem. Chances are if you are reading this, you have walked a pilgrimage trail before and are either curious about or considering walking from Rome to Jerusalem yourself in which case you would know that this pilgrimage is different in nature to Via Francigena or the Camino de Santiago ti Compostela. There are many ways to walk and fewer people that walk this route so there is little to no special pilgrim accommodation along the way.
The first thing to do is decide your general route. However, to do this you will need to be aware of how long you can stay in each country and/or the Schengen area as this may greatly impact your decision about your route.
This is just general information about what I have learned as I have planned my route and you should check directly with the relevant country embassies yourself to determine how long you can stay in a country/region based on your nationality.
Australians can only stay 90 days in a 6 month period. You cannot restart your visa by leaving then re-entering Schengen. Whilst Rome to Jerusalem is do-able within this timeframe (my estimate is 35 days in the Schengen area if you walked Rome to Bari then followed Via Egnatia) if you want to start walking earlier than Rome then you need to be very aware of this limit.
As an Australian citizen I have not yet found away to extend a stay in the Schengen countries. If you read this and no of a visa I can apply for or special permission that is obtainable, I would be most appreciative if you contacted me.
EU citizens generally don't have to worry about this.
New Zealand has a different arrangement with the Schengen countries and can stay 90 days in any one country not just 90 days in the whole area. Lucky for you guys. This means that if you wanted to walk Via Francigena then over to Jerusalem you could.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cyprus, it is illegal to enter the Republic of Cyprus via the illegal/closed airports and ports in the Turkish-occupied regions. Cyprus is not part of Schengen and whilst Australian citizens along with many others do not need a visa to enter Schengen it is likely that the passport needs to be stamped showing where you entered. Entering might be fine (I believe you can get a stamp on a separate piece of paper) but leaving might be problematic if you can't prove that you entered the Republic via one of the "legal" entry points. People have been rested and deported (read more about that the and the North-South crossing here).
EU citizens might not have the same problem crossing from north to south as they might just need to show their passport and not have it stamped. I have heard of EU citizens doing this. However, you should be aware this is still illegal according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyrpus and should undertake your own investigations and make your own decision about whether you want to try this.
As an Australian citizen, I have ruled out passing through Cyrpus to avoid Syria and enter Israel. However, there is no restriction on passing from south to north of Cyrpus if you have entered via one of the legal ports/airports so a reverse pilgrimage from Jerusalem to Rome should not pose the same problem.
There are many ways to walk and depends on your starting point, visa restrictions and personal preferences.
Please check out these sites for routes and other helpful information:
Via Egnatia Foundation (from Durres to Thessaloniki)
To connect with pilgrims past, present and future to ask questions and share information try the following:
You can also contact me
It is possible to obtain a pilgrim passport/credential from the Jerusalem Way organisation. See the information on their homepage.
Books that I have read and found useful are:
Winter Pilgrim Ann walked the North African Route to Jerusalem in 2011/12. She continues to walk winter pilgrims and write about them. What is fascinating about her is how she travels - no money, no phone and walks a marathon most days. Highly recommend her blog.
Phool4xc Peter is walking from Lausanne to Jersualem in 2014/15.
What to take
For my suggestions about what to take please check out my Via Francigena Planning Tools.