Italy: Via Francigena

25 days / Self-guided walking

Lucca to Rome

Via Francigena

Join the many thousands of pilgrims who have embarked on this ancient journey to Italy’s Eternal city . Tackle this section of the Via Francigena from Lucca to Rome, taking in 25 days and 435 kilometres of prime Italian real estate along the way.

TRIP STYLE

Self-Guided Walking

DURATION/LENGTH

25 days/435 kms

DATES

Any date to suit you

START/END POINT

Lucca to Rome

GRADING

Moderate Walk

PRICE P/P TWIN SHARE

From EURO 3,680 / AUD 5,925

Make Enquiry SAVE/PRINT ITINERARY

Beginning in Lucca, a medieval town originally founded by the Etruscans, this section of the Via Francigena takes in some incredible towns and landscapes from hilltop Siena to Lake Bolsena and all the mouth-watering Italian food in between. Expect the typical Tuscan landscapes of rolling hills and vineyards, matched by a testing number of ascents and descents, all of which will have you eventually entering Rome and the Vatican City with some unforgettable stories – and even more unforgettable meals – behind you.

Day 1 | Arrive in Lucca

Welcome to Lucca, a quaint city in Tuscany that you’ll never want to leave. Set on the banks of the Serchio and founded by the Etruscans, Lucca is known for its Renaissance walls and is one of Tuscany’s loveliest city’s despite often being overlooked by tourists in favour of Florence or Pisa.

Warm up your walking muscles exploring town, perhaps visiting the Cathedral St. Martin or the street of Il Filungo. The Botanical Gardens are lovely too, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. In the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, traces of the amphitheatre may still be seen. This evening enjoy a big meal with a glass of Chianti (the local drop) in preparation for your adventure tomorrow.

Day 2 | Lucca – Altopascio | 19 km / 4 hours

Though leaving Lucca will be difficult, the call of the path will no doubt convince you. The industrial sections encountered while exiting Lucca are not the prettiest kilometres in the world, but the walking is easy and Altopascio has a fabulous restaurant with homemade pasta just waiting for your arrival. Tuscany’s pasta of choice is pappardelle, a thick noodle that’s perfect for a hearty ragu dish.

Day 3 | Altopascio – San Miniato | 29 km / 7 hours

Enjoy a day of diverse landscapes as you walk through the woods of Le Cerbaie and across the high ground forming the divide between the basins of the Serchio and Arno rivers. This is an unexpectedly wild, solitary place, which makes for enjoyable walking, before reaching an uphill stretch to climb to San Miniato. With a touch under 30,000 residents, the strategically located San Miniato is built across three hills with panoramic views of the lower Arno valley.  It sits at the intersection of the Florence-Pisa and Lucca-Siena roads and has historically felt the full effects of trade, travel and war. It’s worth making an early start today as San Miniato really is a wonderful town to explore.

Day 4 | San Miniato – Gambassi Terme | 24 km / 6 hours

As the trail crosses rolling hills with vineyards, olive groves and woodlands, things really start to feel quite Tuscan. There’s an extended uphill stretch to finish off the day, culminating in the village of Gambassi Terme, which has some welcoming hot springs to soak in if you wish. With some great little bars and restaurants, it’s the perfect small town for walkers to spend an evening in.

Day 5 | Gambassi Terme – San Gimignano | 14 km / 4 hours | Optional rest day in San Gimignano

A more testing day awaits as the trail goes up and down and up and down before arriving in the well-known town of San Gimignano. The town owes its development and prosperity to the original Via Francigena and the flow of trade and pilgrims but now, centuries down the line, the sheer charm of the town is its main source of wealth, bringing both tourists and pilgrims.

With some of the world’s best gelati and endless slices of pizza, San Gimignano is a foodie’s paradise and once you’ve explored the sights, including the Duomo di San Gimignano, there’s no better activity than sitting on the steps at the Piazza del Duomo and watching as life lazily drifts by. You won’t want to leave this medieval town, complete with 13th-century walls, and if you have any spare time it’s definitely worth spending an extra night here.

Day 6 | San Gimignano – Monteriggioni | 31 km / 7 hours

A simply lovely day of walking on the Via Francigena awaits today, with perfectly pruned olive groves, avenues of cypress trees and rural hamlets bursting with rustic charm. Your destination, Monteriggioni, is a place you won’t forget in a hurry. It’s one of the most famous towns on the entire Via Francigena and is a circular, walled village set on a hilltop. It’s like walking through a fairy tale, made even more unbelievable by the abundance of mouth-watering Chianti wine on offer, which is grown in the surrounding landscape.

Day 7 | Monteriggioni – Siena | 21 km / 5 hours | Optional rest day in Siena

Continue through the Sienese countryside, a distinctive landscape dotted with rural communities and medieval castles. Earthen colours surround the trail with a palette of greens, reds, browns and purples painting a most memorable work of art.

Walking the steep streets into Siena’s World Heritage-listed historic centre is an experience itself and you’ll find yourself in the Piazza del Campo, which is regarded as one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares. Here, the locals hold the famous Palio di Siena twice a year, in which ten horses and riders representing the city’s districts race around the square for the ultimate glory. This is more than a horse race; it represents a fierce rivalry between neighbourhoods and meetings and celebrations are held for weeks both preceding the race and following it.

Racing aside, Siena is a marvellous town along the Via Francigena, with a beautiful Gothic town hall, a wonderful cathedral and the Torre del Mangia, which provides sweeping views of the surrounds. The food and wine are similarly impressive, so stay an extra day if you wish.

Day 8 | Siena – Lucignano d’Arbia | 20 km / 5 hours

Walking out through the streets of Siena to head towards Rome, this is the most charming section of the Tuscan route, spoilt with those pencil pines typical of Tuscany. There are unforgettable views thanks to the crests of the Val d’Arbia too. It’s a fabulous walking day along gentle ridges traversed by dirt roads.

Day 9 | Lucignano d’Arbia – Montalcino | 26 km / 5–6 hours

The first section of the path is flat, then a number of ups and downs are rewarded with fabulous views once more. The end point, the small village of Montalcino, is a welcome sight, and known for its Brunello di Montalcino wine. We veer off the Via Francigena path to enjoy this fabulous village and its utterly delectable wine!

Day 10 | Montalcino – Castelnuovo dell’Abate | 14 km / 4 hours

Walk partly through the vineyards, partly through the more forested landscapes south of Montalcino to begin the day. The goal of the walk is to reach the stunning Abbey of Sant’Antimo (Abbazia di Sant’Antimo), which many call ‘one of the finest Romanesque religious buildings in Italy’. The church dates from the 12th century and is built in a picture-perfect setting, in a large valley with views of the hill town Castelnuovo dell’Abate, as well as wild forests and rolling hills covered in olive groves and vineyards. You’ll have time to relax and perhaps get the chance to listen to the chant of the monks.

Day 11 | Castelnuovo dell’Abate – Pienza | 21 km / 5 hours

Today you’ll walk to the heart of the stunning Val d’Orcia. Travel through rolling hills and beautiful sections alternating between vineyards and forests, then descend all the way down to the Orcia River. From here you’ll walk back up again, heading for the wonderful Ripa d’Orcia, a small fortified village in a strategic position above the River Orcia.

On the other side of the river lies the castle of Rocca d’Orcia and Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano, which is the symbol of southern Tuscany and important today for its thermal water. From here you walk along quiet country lanes to the beautiful medieval village of San Quirico, where you can have a drink in the square and stroll through the Horti Leonini, a 15th-century garden.

The final stretch is a beautiful walk to Pienza, a small, perfectly laid out Renaissance town. Pienza’s location in the centre of the Val d’Orcia, a wonderfully harmonious valley, helps the town to embody the fundamental principle of humanistic architecture – a balanced relationship between Man and Nature.

Day 12 | Pienza – Castiglione d’Orcia | 18 km/ 5 hours

Enjoy more picture-perfect Tuscan landscapes of the Via Francigena – a sight that’s never tiring – as you walk through rolling fields and past the odd cypress tree in the direction of the imposing Monte Amiata.

Upon reaching the Orcia River, you can make a short detour to the thermal village of Bagno Vignoni, a small village that was built in the 13th century to allow Lorenzo de Medici and various popes to relax in healthy thermal waters. Indeed, its peculiarity is that instead of the usual Piazza, there is a large thermal pool. The effect of the rising steam is incredible, especially on cooler days.

You’ll then walk back down to the Orcia River, after which you’ll climb up through a pretty landscape of olive groves and vineyards to Castiglione d’Orcia, on the other side of the river.

Day 13 | Castiglione d’Orcia – Radicofani | 27 km / 7 hours

Test your strength and fitness with a demanding leg of the journey featuring lots of rolling hills, though appreciating the view from Radicofani will repay all your efforts. You will also be able to visit the Pieve di San Pietro, a little jewel dating back to the 13th century. Take an evening walk through Radicofani’s Old Town centre, where you can admire the magic of the illuminated fortress.

Day 14 | Radicofani – Proceno 25 km / 7 hours

Another exciting section of the Via Francigena awaits! Leaving the fortress behind, you’ll walk along the old Via Cassia surrounded by scenery of infinite hills dominated by Monte Amiata. From there, climb to Acquapendente, which is the centre for the agricultural production of vegetables and wine and has a tradition of pottery craftsmanship. We have a wonderful farmhouse with fabulous rooms here and our hosts spoil us for dinner and breakfast with their home cooking.

Day 15 | Proceno – Bolsena | 28 km / 7 hours | Optional rest day in Bolsena

A gentler walking day with the first views of Lake Bolsena makes this a beautiful stage. Alternating between thick woods and meadows scattered with olive trees, this enchanting walk is topped off with views along crater’s edge before arriving at the beautiful lake. Some tasty, interesting food can be found here, with typical cuisine being something like sbroscia, a soup made from lake fish and tomatoes. This is also an ideal spot for an additional rest day, with plenty of eateries and walks on your doorstep.

Day 16 | Bolsena – Montefiascone | 17 km / 4 hours

Once again, great lake views dominate this day on the Via Francigena as you cross an area famous for the production of extra virgin olive oil – a tasting is essential. Don’t miss a chance to do some wine tasting at your destination of Montefiascone too!

As the story goes… Est! Est! Est! is the most famous white wine of Montefiascone. It got its name from the story of a German Bishop who sent his servant ahead to taste the wines along his route of travel, leaving messages on the walls of inns and taverns to tell his master whether he should drink the wine or avoid it. ‘Est’ (it is) meant the wine was good. It’s clear that the servant saw considerable virtue in the wines of Montefiascone because he scrawled ‘Est! Est! Est!!!’ on the wall.

Day 17 | Montefiascone – Viterbo | 17 km / 4 hours

Continue walking along the splendid ancient paved road of the Via Cassia Antica, where there are charming views over Montefiascone and Viterbo, not to mention thermal waters to soak in if you wish. Finish the day in Viterbo – the City of Popes – where taste sensation awaits in the form of the delicious local frittellacce (pancakes).

Day 18 | Viterbo – Lago di Vico | 18 km / 4 hours

Today you will explore the Etruscan hollow roads and typical Etruscan countryside. History tells us that here, not far from Rome and close to Civitavecchia, is a valley of very ancient times, where the Etruscans settled in before reaching Rome. Arrive this afternoon in Lago di Vico, one of the highest major Italian lakes, with an altitude of 510 metres.

Day 19 | Lago di Vico – Sutri | 20 km / 5 hours

Another super walking day on the Via Francigena, through majestic woods to the delightful town of Capranica before ending in Sutri, the pearl of Tuscia. Here you’ll find a perfect square for people watching, as well as narrow streets to stroll in and a delicious local drop to celebrate the day. If you haven’t already discovered a local osteria, now is your chance – it’s a place serving wine and simple food with an emphasis on local specialities such as pasta and grilled meat or fish.

Day 20 | Sutri – Campagnano di Roma | 25 km / 6 hours

Start your day by walking past the impressive amphitheatre then continue through meadows and pastureland in fairly flat terrain. The final part of today is a magnificent path through nature with a stop at the Cascate di Monte Gelato, a mind-blowing castle.  This small village also lays claim to what they believe is the world’s best gelato. But what town in Italy doesn’t?

Day 21 | Campagnano di Roma – Isola Farnese | 21 km / 5 hours

Today, nearing the end of the Via Francigena, you’ll approach the edge of urban Rome, with many interesting points along the way including the attractive historical centre of Formello, the Sorbo Valley and the ruins of Estruscan city of Veii. The penultimate day of your journey, it’s sure to be a day full of reflection and excitement.

Day 22 | Isola Farnese – Rome | 20 km / 5 hours

The Vatican City awaits and nothing can prepare you for the feeling of walking into Rome. It’s not just kilometres behind you, it’s the grand monuments you face when you officially arrive into the ‘Eternal City’ that bring your journey to life.

The parks and reserves welcome you in and the first sight for a triumphant photograph is at the Monte Mario Belvedere. From here, you are able to catch a glimpse of the dome of Saint Peter’s, before descending towards the city to finally reach Piazza San Pietro, your ending point and that of many pilgrims throughout the centuries. You’ll be immediately fascinated by the glorious history, monuments and archaeological areas of Rome. This is a magnificent moment and the city is yours to celebrate this evening!

Day 23 | Finish in Rome

You’ll no doubt want to spend some time taking in all of Rome’s sights and, of course, restaurants. This is the home of carbonara, after all. The Travestere neighbourhood is particularly atmospheric. We trust that you’ve had an amazing experience on the Via Francigena. Your pilgrimage officially comes to an end after breakfast this morning.

 

Visit www.wanderingtheworld.com.au for more information.

Inclusions

  • 22 nights accommodation, all carefully selected to enhance your Italian walking experience
  • Private en-suite facilities
  • Daily luggage transfers from hotel to hotel (1 x 20kg bag unless indicated otherwise)
  • Daily breakfast
  • Information packs with route maps and instructions on how to locate hotels
  • Luggage identification tags
  • Pilgrims passport
  • Emergency contact details and 24/7 local on-the-ground support
  • Pre-departure and ongoing support from Australian office

Optional Inclusions

  • Suggested rest days as outlined in itinerary or if required
  • Upgraded accommodation including agriturismo (country) properties and premium/high-end styles
  • Private vehicle transfers to the trip’s starting point
  • Single supplement for your own room
  • Additional night’s accommodation before or after trip (please advise at time of booking)

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Travel to trip’s starting point
  • Transfers not already outlined in detailed trip itinerary
  • Lunches
  • Evening meals

Accommodation

We know from personal experience that a good night’s rest can make or break a trip, which is why we carefully hand-select all our accommodation. We ensure we pass on our knowledge and firsthand experience of the best places to stay to all our walkers.

Your accommodation along Italy’s walking trails is booked in advance, is on a twin share basis with private facilities, chosen to make your pilgrimage experience as rewarding as possible. You may be staying in local bed and breakfast style properties including small hotels and guesthouses. At times we will stay in small remote villages, with limited choices, however, our assortment always guarantees your own private en-suite facilities. Wherever you end up, you’ll be well looked after, warm and comfortable and, most importantly, ready to tackle the next day’s walk.

Single supplements for your own room are on a request basis.

In many places there are luxury, upgraded options available. We can recommend some very special, unique places to enjoy the Italian hospitality in 4 and 5 star or more.  Please ask us about these options.

Dining

Italy is world famous for its cuisine and although you’ve come for the walking, the eating will be a focal point, with countless famous and traditional must eat meals awaiting your discovery. Italians are the masters of turning simple into spectacular, with the focus on regional, seasonal and fresh ingredients.

Breakfast at your place of accommodation, is usually continental style and may include cereals, yoghurt, bread, pastries, ham, tea, coffee, and juices.

Lunch, at your own expense, will depend on where you are on your walk and what is available, and is often purchased at a local café or bar. Lunch choices along the trail may include a slice of pizza, some panetteria (bakery) delights and if you have a sweet tooth the choices are many, not forgetting the gelati to round off any meal. Or perhaps a picnic you have brought with you to enjoy in the perfect spot.

There are plenty of choices for dining on the walking paths in Italy.  In most places you can choose from the less formal eateries such as an enoteca, osteria or a trattoria, serving local wines and simple tasty wholesome food.  There is usually a pizzeria in town that cater for early diners, and in the larger cities there is overwhelming options and with Michelin recognised and quality establishments you are spoilt for choice.

THE WALKING

This trip is a self-guided itinerary, ideal for groups and independent travellers who prefer to navigate their own way, in their own time.

You will be provided with an information pack with easy to read maps and instructions, complete with directions to guide you on the well-marked paths and tracks. Your information pack will be available at your joining hotel on the first day of your trip.

TRIP GRADE

Moderate – This itinerary is carefully designed for easy to manage walking days.  Between 14-24 km per day, approx. 4-6 walking hours. There is a basic level of fitness required and some uphill stretches in part.

Given you only need carry a lightweight day bag and your water supply, which can be replenished in the various villages on route and other essentials such as snacks and rainwear. It makes this trip very manageable for an inexperienced walker with a reasonable level of fitness.

LUGGAGE TRANSFERS

For your comfort and enjoyment Wandering the World arrange a daily luggage transfer. All you need to carry is a day pack and be free to enjoy your walking. Luggage allowance is one bag per person of no more than 20kg. Luggage must be left in the reception of your hotel before breakfast (8am) each day, before you move on.

It is essential to attach a bag tag provided to ensure your luggage is delivered to your next accommodation.

*Please note only one bag will be moved each day, additional charges will apply if your bag is heavier than 20kg. Should you require special arrangements for additional luggage transfers, this can be booked ahead of time.

GROUP SIZE

Wandering the World guided groups have a maximum group size of 12 participants. This small group size has many advantages including flexibility to stay in a wider range of accommodation options, dining together of an evening, the opportunity to get to know your travelling companions, and the freedom to walk alone or together.

TRANSFERS/TAXIS

If for any reason you wish to shorten your walking day, there are taxi and sometimes train options in the villages.

On some itineraries, there are times when Wandering the World may arrange a transfer for you or can do so at your request. For example, this might be where small villages do not have accommodation with private facilities, or we want to take you to a special out of the way hotel we know you are going to love. In this case Wandering the World will either arrange a transfer for you or suggest in your trip notes that you will need a taxi at your own expense.

Occasionally transfers are required due to limited accommodation options.  A simple procedure is outlined in your trip notes explaining the details of your private transfer, the designated meeting point and the agreed time.

WEATHER

The weather and climate on our Italian walks is very varied, region to region, and of course from day to day. Each season has its benefits, with lovely long warm and sunny days in Spring and early Summer, to cooler walking temperatures early Spring and late Autumn. Some sections may be too hot for walking mid-summer, and some more likely to be wet, or even snow at other times. Talk to Wandering the World when making your plans, to discuss your preferences.

Once on your walk, the weather can play an important part on the enjoyment of the journey.  Checking the forecast can assist with your plans.  If you strike warm weather, which you think may be uncomfortable, leaving early to avoid the hottest part of the day can make a difference.

24/7 SUPPORT

Your information pack will include details of local emergency contacts and international contacts.

We have local on the ground support to give you any assistance you may need

We also check in with each hotel at the end of each day to endure your arrival.

GETTING THERE / GETTING HOME

This itinerary begins in Lucca and ends Rome.

The closest airports to Lucca are Pisa International Airport (35km), Florence International Airport (70km) or Rome International Airport (350km).

There are bus and train options for arriving and departing your walking commencement destination.

Train bookings are recommended.  Please note you can only book two months in advance of the date of travel.

From Rome Termini you can then travel to Pisa or Florence.  For more information see www.trenitalia.com

To get to Lucca from Pisa central train station you can take a regional train (approx. 30 minutes). Check the timetable at www.trenitalia.com.

From Florence International Airport there is a local bus to the Santa Maria Novella train station (approx 25 mins).  More information available at www.fsbusitalia.it.   Then choose the options of arriving by Train www.trenitalia.com (approx 1.5 hrs) or Bus www.omio.com/  (approx 1.5 hrs) to arrive in Lucca.

Getting from Rome

Train and Bus Options:

To Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport and /or Rome Ciampino Airport, refer to the links below for more information:

www.trenitalia.com

Rome2Rio.  

INSURANCE

Insurance is compulsory for everyone who travels with Wandering the World. The insurance policy must include cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability. Wandering the World recommends insurance coverage for cancellation to be taken at the same time your deposit is paid, as no exception to the cancellation provisions can be made.

BOOKING AND TRAVEL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Wandering the World’s full booking terms and conditions are available upon request and will also accompany your initial invoice for deposit.

“This was a walk that felt like real Roman times! The castles perched on the hill tops looked like they were ready for battle!  Perfectly preserved medieval villages lining the path to Rome were full of character in every sense of the word.  There seemed to be a little piece of ancient history in every single step”.  Glenyce, Founder of Wandering the World.