- Travel with like-minded people but still witin a self-guide framework to give you great flexibility
- Traverse spectacular Tuscan countryside in the footsteps of Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury
- Indulge in the traditional dishes of Tuscany and enjoy a wine tasting
- Stroll through vineyards and olive groves and watch farmers harvesting their crops*
- Explore the charming medieval UNESCO towns of Lucca, San Gimignano and Siena
- Take in the views of the Chianti region from the fortified walls of Monteriggioni
- Stay in carefully selected accommodations that are chosen for their warm hospitality, unique character or location
This self-guided walking trip combines the freedom and flexibility of a self-guided trek with the support and company of other like-minded travellers. This group departure is ideal for solo travellers who would like the details of their trip well planned but do not want a fully guided walk. This trip is guaranteed to depart on the dates outlined.
Since the 4th century, Christians, clergymen, plebians, emperors and sovereigns have undertaken epic, life-changing adventures on foot to Rome, the Holy Land and Santiago de Compostela. Those seeking out the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul were destined for the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome. The Via Francigena connected Canterbury Cathedral in England to the Vatican and St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, Italy, via a 1900km pilgrimage route.
Traditionally the journey was taken as an act of devotion and pilgrims would stop along the way at places deemed holy by the church. Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, documented his return journey from Rome (AD990) and it is this route that has had the most significant influence on successive pilgrimages.
So grab your hiking boots and large appetite and become a ‘pellegrino’ on the Via Francigena – the Italian Camino, following in the footsteps of Sigeric. This itinerary travels through Tuscany, the heart of the Via Francigena, and is a journey that is spiritual, cultural and historical. Beautiful trails through the Tuscan countryside, vineyards and forests lead you to ancient churches, monasteries and fortified villages (often on hilltops). The itinerary alternates longer hiking days with shorter ones to allow you time to explore UNESCO listed cities like Lucca, San Gimignano, and Siena. At the end of each day reward yourself with a tasting of the Chianti regional wine and antipasto before sampling some of Tuscany’s gastronomic delights like freshly made pasta with the region’s rare white truffle oil.
Extend Your Holiday – City Breaks
Double your holiday experience by including a stopover on your journey! A city break is a great way to explore another place, indulge in some extra shopping, dining or sightseeing and is a great way to break up a long flight. Our fabulous array of RAW Travel city breaks can be tailor made to your requirements and usually include an arrival transfer, 2 nights accommodation and a city sightseeing tour.
Are you a first-time or solo traveller?
We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.
Day 1: Arrive Lucca
Your journey begins in the captivating city of Lucca. We recommend you arrive early to allow enough time to explore its Romanesque churches, Renaissance sculptures and splendid gardens. Take a walk or bike ride around the tree-lined, red-brick walls that contain this elegant city for views over the Apuan Alps. Lucca’s duomo, Cattedrale di San Martino, is well worth a visit, as is the impressive Piazza Anfiteatro, a 2nd century Roman amphitheatre. Dinner is on your own tonight and there are many dining options to choose from.
Day 2: Lucca to San Miniato
- Approx, 1 hour 15 min train travel
This morning you have some more time to enjoy Lucca before making your way by train to San Miniato. Take some time this afternoon to discover why this town is considered one of the pearls of the Via Francigena. The seminary, from which the main square takes its name, has a unique facade; take a stroll past it in the evening when it is illuminated, before settling in to enjoy a local speciality of risotto with white truffle.
Overnight: San Miniato
Day 3: San Miniato to Gambassi Terme (25km, 7 hours)
- 781m ascent, 654m descent
Today’s walk is gently undulating and takes you on a paved road from San Miniato through to olive groves, past vineyards and farmland crossing typical countryside of the Val d’Elsa. Along the way you will pass Pieve di Coiano, a parish church thought to have been built before 1000AD. The church is particularly significant due to a visit by Archbishop Sigeric on his journey from Canterbury to Rome.
The last half of the walk ventures along the top of rolling Tuscan hills with fantastic views of rustic farmhouses, fields of wheat, sunflowers and vineyards. As you near the town of Gambassi Terme you will pass Pieve a Chianni (the church of Santa Maria), a lovely Romanesque church that has been restored and is now a ostello (hostel). You will stop for the night in Gambassi Terme, a town known for its thermal baths and the thermal springs found in the area.
Overnight: Gambassi Terme
Meals: B, D
Day 4: Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano (18km, 6 hours)
- 595m ascent, 540m descent
Leaving behind the quaint village of Gambassi Terme, the trail today will take you along country roads, passing more vineyards and olive trees into sections of lush green forest. Keep your eye out for remnants of ancient Roman roads.
Cypress lined paths with beautiful views of the rolling Tuscan hills either side of you lead to the town of Pancole, dominated by the Santuario di Pancole (Sanctuary of Pancole). Continuing on you will come across the working monastery of Pieve di Cellole. It is set amongst lovely grounds with panoramic views over the countryside. If a mass is not being held, you can visit the church and purchase some of the local farm produce or pottery.
Even though you will be walking alongside the road as you approach San Gimignano, the views remain captivating as you look toward this evocative hilltop town. San Gimignano is a gem and we recommend taking some time to wander the narrow, boutique-filled streets, not forgetting to climb the Torre Grossa, the tallest tower of many, which affords spectacular views over the UNESCO listed town and the surrounding hills.
Included this evening is a wine tasting that will offer you the opportunity to sample some of the local produce.
Overnight: San Gimignano
Day 5: San Gimignano to Gracciano (21km, 6 hours)
- 209m ascent, 204m descent
Leaving the fairy tale village of San Gimignano this morning, the Via Francigena takes you along quiet, local roads, through farmland and a number of forested sections. The terrain can be uneven at times with tree roots and rocky sections, particularly on the forest trails. The trail meets and follows a stream with the clearest water, offering a place to swim during the warmer months.
A detour worth taking today is to see the fascinating Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta in Conèo; a Romanesque church built around the year 1,000 and located in the lovely surrounds of the Colle di Val d’Elsa.
Some of the areas you are walking through today and tomorrow were once underwater. If you look carefully, some sections of road have shell fossils embedded in them.
Day 6: Gracciano to Monteriggioni (13km, 4 hours)
- 132m ascent, 57m descent
From Gracciano you will walk along one of the more beautiful sections of the Via Francigena. Today’s highlights include Pieve a Elsa and the ancient Etruscan thermae (thermal pools) of Caldane. Continuing on you will be able to admire the facade of the Pieve di Strove and Abbadia a Isola, a resting place for Archbishop Sigeric of Canterbury on his pilgrimage.
There is no mistaking Monteriggioni as you approach. The small village is perched on a hilltop and is enclosed by medieval walls and 14 striking towers that make quite an impact on the landscape. Explore the narrow streets with its ring of vegetable gardens, houses and the Piazza Roma at the centre. Make sure you climb up on one of the walls to take in the view.
Day 7: Monteriggioni to Siena (20km, 6 hours)
- 224m ascent, 245m descent
After breakfast, depart Monteriggioni on dirt roads through the Montagnola Sense, a hilly area of the region passing through the now deserted medieval village of Cerbaia. The trail today is gently undulating along wide gravel country roads lined with the iconic cypress pine. The landscape consists of large expanses of open, rolling hills dotted with castles, farms and forests; land that has seen many legendary battles between Siena and Florence.
After a meditative walk through the Renai forest, you will pass through the Porta Camollia, the traditional pilgrims’ entrance to the epic town of Siena. Situated along three ridges at the southern end of the Chianti hills, Siena is another UNESCO city not to be missed. The town explodes with excitement during the famous Palio horse race run several times over summer in Piazza del Campo. The striking Duomo is jam-packed with artworks by Bernini, Michelangelo and Donatello and is only one of many fascinating sites to explore during your stay. Walk the cobblestone streets of this vibrant town before soaking up the atmosphere of Piazza del Campo over a glass of prosecco and antipasto, and celebrating the end of your pilgrimage along the Via Francigena.
Day 8: Departure day
After breakfast, you are free to leave for your onward journey.
Recommended additional nights: Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena
- 7 nights accommodation in 3-star hotels, family run B&Bs or agriturismo (farm stays)
- Breakfast daily, 1 dinner
- Luggage transfers on trekking days
- Pilgrims passport
- Destination and trek training guide
- GPS Map app and comprehensive walk notes and maps
- Luggage tag and buff
- 24-hour emergency support in Italy and Australia
- Italian phrasebook
- Arrival transfer from Miniato–Fucecchio train station to your hotel on day 2
- Lunch and dinner (only 1 dinner included on either night 3 or night 6)
- City tax (to be paid locally)
- Travel Insurance
- Single supplement $600
- Train tickets
Map & Guide
Deborah Jane Mackay, Burleigh Heads (QLD) – October 2019
I loved everything – scenery through to accommodation.