The Via Romea is an ancient pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. It is more commonly referred to as the Via Francigena, which technically describes the reverse of the route we are taking, passing from Rome to Canterbury.
The route was most popular as a pilgrimage path in medieval times, but is undergoing something of a modern-day revival. It's very different to the Camino de Santiago, the popular pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain; the Camino is well-marked, busy, and with an developed infrastructure around the pilgrimage route. The Via Romea/Francegina is much less developed, and fairly unmarked outside of Italy. Overall, it's a much quieter route... perfect for Gregory, we thought.
The medieval pilgrim would travel across Europe as a penitential pilgrimage, seeking three holy places- Rome, Santiago de Compostela (the tomb of St James), and Jerusalem. The pilgrim carried three objects: keys for St Peter's in Rome, a shell, for Santiago, and a cross for Jerusalem.
We decided to just stick to Rome this time round :-) No keys, either, except for bike locks.