A fairly easy route without too much ascent / descent. The entire itinerary follows mainly paths and gravel tracks ('strade bianche') with the occasional section on tarmac roads.
Some walks are quite long but can be shortened if arranged in advance. The whole itinerary is well marked with official Via Francigena signs (white-red marks, yellow signs with pilgrim symbol).
Start: Lucca Finish: Siena
Travel to Lucca, check in to your hotel then check out the town! Wander past splendid gardens, marvel at the majestic bell tower and be stunned by the impressive Piazza Anfiteatro, a 2nd-century Roman amphitheatre. To get a better perspective, make sure to walk the perimeter along tree-lined walls. This evening, stroll round the town squares to whet your appetite and select a restaurant for dinner.
This morning you wander over to San Martin Cathedral and come face to face, in a literal sense, with the expressive ‘Volto Santo’, famous wooden statue-reliquary of Christ Crucified attributed to Nicodemus. In the afternoon, jump on the train to Fucecchio where you’ll be met for the transfer to your accommodation perched high in the hilltop town of San Miniato Alto.
Take to a bit of tarmac, then veer off on a spectacular route through quintessential Tuscan countryside in the Val d’Elsa. Thrilling to scenes straight out of the famed Road to Rome diary penned by Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, you stumble upon two exquisite gems: Pieve di Coiano and Pieve a Chianni. Your route ends in Gambassi, home to Florentine nobles since its 14th-century origin.
Challenge: 7 hours, 25 km, 780 m ascent, 655 m descent
The Via Francigena cuts directly through stunning scenery today, as you make your way to peculiar villages like Collemuccioli and Pieve di Cellole stopping off to visit Santa Maria Sanctuary in Pancole. At the end of the day, San Gimignano invites you to stroll back in history. So go ahead, get lost in its charming medieval atmosphere! Then follow your nose to succulent aromas, peeking into restaurants to select a spot for dinner.
Challenge: 6 hours, 18 km, 595 m ascent, 540 m descent
The pilgrimage route simply outdoes itself today as you roam toward Rome, hiking up and down the Tuscan hills among vineyards and olive groves, fields and woodlands. If you’re feeling extra energetic, take an optional detour to the fascinating 11th-century Abbey of Santa Maria a Conero.
Challenge: 6 hours, 21 km, 210 m ascent, 205 m descent
Passing Pieve a Elsa, a site with a thousand-year history where a chapel once stood, you slip further back in time to the ancient Etruscan hot springs at Thermae di Caldane. Next, Strove’s robust Romanesque church awaits as does the bizarre complex at Abbadia a Isola, founded in the palindromic year of 1001. Spend the night in medieval Monteriggioni, where a peculiar crown of towers encircles the village.
Challenge: 4 hours, 13 km, 130 m ascent, 55 m descent
Take off on dirt tracks through the classic hills of Montagnola Senese, passing the ancient medieval village of Cerbaia, seemingly lost in time. A pretty story-book castle, ‘Castello della Chiocciola’, sprouts up among groves of trees en route to Pian del Lago, with or without a detour via Il Poggio di Riciano. Revel in the quiet coolness of Renai Forest before you strut proudly through the Porta Camollia, historic pilgrims’ gate into splendid Siena. Tonight you will embrace yet another challenge, choosing the very best place for a farewell dinner!
Challenge: 6 hours, 20 km, 225 m ascent, 245 m descent
Your self-guided pilgrimage comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Extra nights in Siena can be booked in advance, allowing time to explore this gorgeous city.
All accomodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite.
You can find below the standard hotels of this trip. If a hotel is fully booked, then we will book a similar one for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
Extra overnight: You can book additional night(s) at any of the accommodations along the way.
Hotel Rex*** is 80 m from the main train station and 100 m from the ancient walls of Lucca. Rooms are quiet and well-finished with free Wi-Fi, air conditioned, telephone and fridge. Staff is helpful and courteous. Buffet breakfast is rich and varied.
What in the thirteenth century was a severe monastery cloister is now Hotel San Miniato, refined historic home sits on a hill overlooking the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Pisa. The rooms are comfortable, elegant and clean. Breakfast is good and rich.
Tenuta Sant'Ilario is immersed in the Chianti countryside, among vineyards and olive groves. Located 10km from San Gimignano, consists of a stone-walled villa, a restaurant and an outdoor pool. The accommodations, provided as rooms, villas or entire apartments, are furnished in Tuscan style with exposed beams and wooden floors. Rooms offer private bathroom, kitchenette in the apartments, free Wi-Fi but limited to common rooms and some rooms. Breakfast buffet is good and varied, during the summer it can be done in the outdoor garden.
The hotel is both overlooking the ancient Piazza della Cisterna used to welcome pilgrims from all over the world and charming hills of San Gimignano. This stately home is in an excellent position, into the heart of San Gimignano. The rooms are simple and modern with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, TV and bathroom. Breakfast is very good although not particularly plentiful. The staff is welcoming and helpful
Hotel Il Pietreto is 4km from Colle Val d'Elsa and consists of an 18th-century country house with restaurant and two outdoor swimming pools. Rooms are equipped with classic furniture and offer TV, private bathroom not particularly nice and, in some rooms, an original fireplace; there is no air conditioned. Wi-Fi is free but does not have uniform coverage on the structure. Breakfast is ok.
Borgo Gallinaio is a medieval hamlet dating back to fifteenth Century, now converted into a charming hotel surrounded by the Tuscan countryside and located at short distance from Monteriggioni Castle. Rooms are spacious and furnished in a rustic style with wooden beams and terracotta floors and have private bathroom and free Wi-Fi. Location is quiet, and the staff is friendly and helpful. Quality breakfast is served in the courtyard.
Hotel Chiusarelli*** is in the city center of Siena and finds its natural setting in a neoclassical villa built around 1870. The Hotel has been completely renovated in 2013 and offers spacious and clean rooms with air conditioning/heating, telephone, free Wi-Fi and TV with Sky Vision. The Hotel doesn't have the lift. Quality breakfast.
You can start on any day of the week, subject ot availability, between April 1st and October 31st.
Arrival in Lucca
From Pisa Airport (PSA), you can take a train to Lucca with change in Pisa Centrale station.
From Florence Airport (FLR), take a public bus to Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station, and then a train to Lucca (with change in Pisa Centrale).
Departure from Siena
On departure, if flying from Pisa airport PSA, you first need to reach Florence by bus. Once in Florence, you need to take a train to Pisa Central Station. From there, you can reach the airport by either bus or train.
As an alternative, you can catch a bus from Siena station to Pisa aiport: www.tiemmespa.it/index.php/Viaggia-con-noi/Altri-servizi/Lunga-percorrenza/Siena-Firenze-Pisa-Aeroporto.
You can also reach Pisa from Siena by train, but you always have to change in Empoli.
If flying from Florence airport FLR, you first need to reach Florence train station Santa Maria Novella by either bus or train (both direct). Once in Santa Maria Novella, you can reach the airport by either taxi or bus.
GPS tracks are available on request.
(*) Only 1 piece of luggage per person is allowed
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