Italy: Via Francigena

8 days / Self-guided walking

Lucca to Siena

Via Francigena

Imagine Tuscan hills, plates of pizza and pasta, Chianti wine and castles and cathedrals. Quite simply, this section of the Via Francigena, the historic pilgrimage to the Eternal city of Rome, could be the best nine days of walking in Italy and possibly the whole of Europe.

TRIP STYLE

Self-Guided Walking

DURATION/LENGTH

8 days/133 kms

DATES

Any date to suit you

START/END POINT

Lucca to Siena

GRADING

Moderate Walk

PRICE P/P TWIN SHARE

From EURO 1,620 / AUD 2,610

Make Enquiry SAVE/PRINT ITINERARY

Following perhaps the most beautiful section of the Via Francigena, this 9-day walk takes in the famous towns of Lucca, San Gimignano and Siena. That said, almost every town along the route could be considered breathtaking, with many built on hilltops with their fortifications still preserved. Food and wine are a huge part of this journey, from Tuscan pappardelle to Chianti wine, not to mention all the pizza and gelati one could ever wish for. With gentle walking and a few good ascents to boot, this section of the Via Francigena will make anyone fall in love with walking holidays.

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, 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. Either warm up your walking muscles or hire a bike to explore town, perhaps visiting the Cathedral St. Martin or the street of Il Filungo. The Botanical Gardens are lovely too. 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, to give you more time to explore the wonderful town of San Miniato.

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 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

Your final day of walking takes you 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 to finish your walk in and has 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, and we highly recommend spending a few extra days here if possible.

Day 8 | Finish in Siena

Your journey officially comes to an end in Siena today and we hope that you’ve had a memorable experience on the Via Francigena.

 

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

Inclusions

  • 7 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 Siena.

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 trains (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 Siena

Options for returning to either Pisa or Florence are available at:

www.airportbusexpress.it

www.sienamobilita.it

www.fsitaliane.it

http://www.pisa-airport.com

www.trainspa.it

Siena Mobilita

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.

“Lucca to Siena was a very special stretch of the Via Francigena, not only was it the pride and satisfaction of reaching Siena by foot, it was time to immerse in some of the most beautiful scenery in Italy.  The villages also struck a chord with their dainty old-world buildings and local charm, San Gimignano was worth the walk just for the Gelato and not forgetting the Tuscan wines, the Brunello grape was the reward after a long walk in nature”.  Glenyce, Founder of Wandering the World.