Your personal identification card
The Pilgrim Passport and Testimonium documents have double value: a personal record of accomplishment and public recognition of your efforts
Your Pilgrim Passport
The Pilgrim Credential, also known as Pilgrim Passport, is your identity card while traveling the via Francigena. Not to be confused with a legal document such as your national passport or country ID, this document certifies your "pilgrim" status and can be used to gain entrance to refuges/monasteries and occasionally discounts at hotels, B&B’s or restaurants. I do emphasize “Occasionally” because this idea has not yet really “caught on”, in any case, it makes a nice memento piece cataloging your travels of the 15 sections of the trail while in Tuscany.
Interesting to note that this is not some newfangled commercial gimmick. The credentials once existed as “badges” made from pewter or tin that could be worn on clothing and hats and they represented “signs … which visitors adorn themselves for the increase of their own devotion and as proof of their accomplished journey.” An article written by William Marques tells how these pins or medals were discovered: “medieval pilgrim badges found by archaeologists have been either in graves or in river mud by bridges in large towns such as Paris and London.” It would appear that pilgrims threw the badges in the waters as a “thank you” or sign of gratitude for having made a safe journey, much like the Etruscans and Romans when they tossed idols into pools of water to thank the Gods for a safe return home after battle. Though explicitly visible in paintings and nominated several times in ancient texts, it is still not exactly clear how they were used.
Today’s credentials are in an A6 paper format with several spaces for churches, town halls, tourist offices and other designated stops to stamp and give proof of your passage. These passports or credentials are only available for those who follow the via Francigena by walking, biking or even horseback. It has a minimum cost (3 Euro plus postage) or it can be purchased along the way. Here is a link for actually purchasing your credentials online at the official website of the via Francigena. If you are already in Italy, visiting Tuscany, then you can make the purchase at one of these places:
Centro Didattico Pieve di Sorano - Filattiera - Info Point Via Francigena
Spring-Summer opening times (from 8th April to 27th September): from Monday to Sunday 9:30am-12:30am
Closed in fall-winter period
Lucca Tourist Office, Vecchia Porta San Donato, piazzale Verdi, 55100 Lucca,
Open: October-March 9:00am-5:00pm
Monteriggioni Tourist Office, piazza Roma 23, 53035 Monteriggioni
firstname.lastname@example.org. Open: 16th February-31st March: 10:00am -1,30pm/2:00pm-4:00pm, closed on Tuesday
1st April-15th September: 9,30am-1,30pm/2:pm-7:00pm
16th September-31st October: 10:00am-1,30pm/2:00pm-6:00pm
1st November-15 January: 10:00am-1,30pm/2:00pm-4:00pm, closed on Tuesday
Closed on 25th December and from 16th January to 15th February
The Testimonium is a document that you earn after completing specific steps of the via Francigena. Your credentials are used as proof of you having executed the required distances and once presented to the proper authorities it is transformed into a certified document “testifying” your status and can be used to demonstrate to the local religious authorities that you have indeed executed the travels. It is not necessary to complete the entire pilgrimage route! Depending on how you are approaching the trail (walking or biking) there are specific rules and regulations. Your credentials will have to be stamped to demonstrate that you completed 140 km if you are walking, starting at Aquapendente, and, if you are biking, then you need to demonstrate that you started in Lucca and covered 400 km.