From Canterbury to Rome, the Eternal City and symbol of Christianity, and then continue south, until you reach the sunny and fragrant lands of Puglia. An ancient route that since before the year 1000 A.D. has attracted - and still attracts - faithful pilgrims and trekking enthusiasts from all over Europe. Region after region, stage after stage, the Via Francigena with its over two thousand km of trails enters the heart of Italy, revealing an artistic, cultural, natural and food and wine heritage that is unique in the world. A different way of traveling, for those who want to rediscover the value of slowness and simplicity, in the midst of unspoiled nature.
Let's discover some of the most famous stages of the Tuscan Via Francigena, and see how to follow them and where to sleep.
Via Francigena, an ancient path between nature, art and history
Via Francigena is one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage itineraries of medieval origin, born during the domination of the Lombards. When they gave way to the Franks, this "route" took the name of Via Francigena, or "road originating from France", which connected the North and South of Europe allowing the transit of merchants, armies and, of course, pilgrims. To indicate today a "true" and unique route of this ancient road would be almost impossible, because it is a set of roads and paths never really been codified. However, we have an idea of the stages and the main places visited by travelers thanks to the discovery of the travel diary of an illustrious pilgrim, Sigeric, appointed Bishop of Canterbury in England in 990. The Abbot walked from Rome to the English town, carefully noting the 80 tasks in which he stopped to stay overnight. This diary is considered today the most authentic and authoritative traveling source, so much so that we often speak of "Via Francigena according to Sigeric's itinerary".
A journey of almost 2,000 kilometers, of which about 944 kilometers in Italy and 15 stops in the region of Tuscany. A journey that between nature and the treasures of art and history leaves you speechless. Let the adventure begin.
Via Francigena in Tuscany: the 4 most beautiful stages
One region, Tuscany. 380 kilometers, 38 municipalities crossed, an itinerary of 15 stages. From the Cisa Pass in Pontremoli to Acquapendente. A succession of nature, art, culture, crafts, evocative landscapes such as those of the Val D'Orcia and unforgettable villages, such as Bagno Vignoni with its unmistakable thermal bath in the square. Easy mountain trails, stone mule tracks, country roads that cross wheat fields, dirt roads in the shade of tall cypress trees, or even magnificent medieval cobbles. Traveling the Via Francigena in Tuscany means embarking on a different and fascinating journey. Let's find out which are the 4 most beautiful and easiest stages, from the north of Tuscany to the south, in the direction of the Eternal City ...
San Miniato – Gambassi Terme (24 km/6 hours)
This stretch of the Via Francigena is considered particularly suggestive, because it winds through the hills of Val d'Elsa, with their meadows swept by the wind and ridges designed by cypresses, offering breathtaking panoramic views wherever you look. It starts from San Miniato, in the province of Pisa: there are about 24 kilometers that cross fields bordered by ancient farmhouses and farms, which can be covered on foot easily and in a short time. Do not miss the Gambassi thermal baths, in whose thermal and precious waters you can let your tired feet rest...
Gambassi Terme – San Gimignano (13 km/3 hours)
Continue from Gambassi Terme towards medieval San Gimignano, which is just 13 kilometers away. It is an "easy" route, which does not involve particular differences in height, and therefore also ideal for those who love cycling. Along the way, you will arrive at the sanctuary of Pancole, and then go up to the beautiful building of Collemucioli up to the superb Romanesque church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cellole. So here you are: San Gimignano, one of the most famous villages in Tuscany, as well as a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage city, from which you will enter through one of the medieval gates. A small jewel of medieval town planning, set in the magnificent Sienese hills, and a treasure trove of Italian art masterpieces between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Let yourself be enchanted by the city of "beautiful towers"!
San Gimignano – Monteriggioni (30 km/7 hours)
This is undoubtedly considered one of the most beautiful stretches of the Via Francigena. Leaving San Gimignano behind, the longest route that crosses the region will lead you into the heart of the Tuscan hills, until you reach Abbadia a Isola, an ancient abbey perched on a patch of land. An enchanted place where time seems to have stopped. From here we continue the journey and, after crossing a wide plain and stretches of wheat fields, the itinerary ends in front of the shapes of one of the icons of the Italian landscape: the village of Monteriggioni, surrounded by mighty and impressive walls punctuated by solid towers.
Monteriggioni – Siena (21km/6 hours)
Greet Monteriggioni and its walls, walk along the dirt roads and, in an ups and downs between meadows and woods, you will arrive in front of the castles of Chiocciola. Continuing along Pian del Lago, an area reclaimed at the end of the 18th century, and crossing the Renai wood, here is the unmistakable outline of Siena, one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany. You will enter through the city gate Porta Camolia, and you cannot miss a tour through the cobbled streets of the city, visiting the Duomo and Piazza del Campo and getting lost in its streets...
How to travel the Via Francigena
The Via Francigena can be covered on foot, as it is perfect for trekking, but not only. Those who want to live an adventurous and exciting experience can follow a path without interruptions that integrates with the pedestrian path, following the "official" stages: it is the CicloVia Francigena, marked with special adhesive strips and with the writing "CicloVia Francigena" and / or the symbol of the pilgrim surrounded by a bicycle wheel. A path that finds the most suitable solutions for pedaling in peace, avoiding obstacles and reducing gradients as much as possible. In fact, there are many asphalted secondary roads with little traffic, but in general it is advisable to face the experience riding a hybrid bike or a mountain bike.
Via Francigena: where to sleep between Tuscany and Umbria
Via Francigena, given the growing popularity of the paths, in recent years has been made safe and implemented from the point of view of accommodation, with infrastructures dedicated to the provision of pilgrims and wayfarers and places equipped for rest. Finding accommodation along the Via Francigena is not difficult, being able to choose between hostels, bed & breakfasts, hotels, but also campsites, farmhouses or ecclesiastical structures.
For those who want to combine the travel experience with that of staying in a unique place, surrounded by organic gardens and located within a natural park, they can choose the Monterufoli Estate. In fact, this year our farmhouse-estate has been included in the "Path from the Via Francigena to the Etruscan Coast". The "Villetta di Monterufoli - Bolgheri" stage starts right here: lovers of slow tourism who decide to take the Via Francigena will therefore be able to find refreshment in one of the rooms in Monterufoli, adding a tasting of wines produced by the Estate, such as the Poggio Miniera Val di Cornia Rosso DOCG and Pian di Seta Vermentino di Toscana Bio, or tasting some of the most authentic Tuscan dishes in the La Miniera restaurant. Not only that, from here it is possible to reach the ancient lignite and magnesite mines, organize an off-road visit to the chalcedony deposits, or discover the vineyards surrounding the estate by bicycle and then continue to the next stop in Bolgheri, a very small village full of charm. In fact, one cannot fail to be enchanted by the suggestive Viale dei Cipressi, the access road to the village, made up of about 2400 secular cypresses and almost 5 kilometers long.
Those who want to experience a different and unique adventure, far from the crowded main track, can choose to go further and explore the heart of Italy, encroaching on the beautiful and nearby lands of Umbria. Surrounded by hectares of olive trees and fragrant peach orchards, there is the suggestive Tenuta di Montecorona, where you can stay in the fascinating Badia, at the foot of the ancient Camaldolese Hermitage which dominates the whole valley and which can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle, along a path that crosses an enchanting forest. Convenient for those who have decided to venture along the Via Francigena, the estate offers comfort, splendid countryside landscapes and, nevertheless, the opportunity to taste some of the "treasures" of the area, such as the Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOP "Umbria Colli del Trasimeno", an olive oil with character and complex aroma, which is a good pairing with the strong and decisive flavors of Umbrian cuisine. Or again, the peaches of Montecorona, famous for their sweetness and their unmistakable scent, which the farm cultivates in the area around the Badia. The farm also occupies a central position compared to other famous Umbrian tourist resorts, such as Todi, Assisi and Perugia, allowing those who wish to take another path, the Via di San Francesco, on the trail of one of the saints. most iconic, San Francesco D'Assisi.
The estate is therefore the perfect place to spend your stay, in harmony with the surrounding nature and live a truly unforgettable experience.