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Via Francigena from Lucca to Rome  The Natural Adventure 56

Via Francigena from Lucca to Rome

Overview

Via Francigena (The Way to Rome) led all the way from Canterbury to Rome and was an important road in medieval times. It was used for 7 centuries by sovereigns, emperors, plebeians and clergymen who embarked on this journey as an act of devotion stopping at places along the way deemed as holy by the Church. Nowadays, we can reconstruct the itinerary thanks to a document left behind by Archbishop Sigeric of Canterbury, who, upon his return from Rome in 994, wrote down the names of the places that had formed the stages of his pilgrimage.  

The route we offer here is a combination of 3 shorter sections crossing Tuscany and Latium and covers more than 300 km. It starts in Lucca with its renaissance walls and one of the largest and most fascinating old town centres of Tuscany, where you can spend time visiting the fascinating villas and gardens. Then you cross the beautiful Tuscany countryside exploring charming UNESCO towns like San Gimignano and Siena and wonderful hilltop villages like Montalcino and San Quirico. The route leads you to Italy’s second most populated region of Lazio with its Etruscan villages and historical sites like Bolsena and Viterbo that were important stops for the medieval pilgrims. Until you finally reach Rome – the Eternal City.

Highlights

  • The spectacular landscapes of the Tuscany countryside
  • The historical fortified military village of Monteriggioni
  • The charming UNESCO towns of San Gimignano and Siena
  • The hilltop villages of Castiglione d’Orcia, San Quirico d’Orcia and Radicofani
  • Lake of Bolsena and tuff stone gorges
  • Delicious culinary specialities
  • Beautiful Rome

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lucca

Arrive in Lucca. If you arrive early, enjoy a visit to the town, explore its splendid gardens, majestic bell tower and impressive Piazza Anfiteatro, a 2nd-century Roman amphitheatre. Don’t miss a walk along the tree-lined walls of its perimeter. Dinner is on your own in one of the many restaurants in town.

  • Accommodation: hotel in Lucca (Hotel Rex or similar)

Day 2: San Miniato Alto

After breakfast, take some time to visit the wooden crucifix known as the Holy Face (“Volto Santo”), a famous statue-reliquary in the Cathedral of Saint Martin and legendarily carved by Nicodemus. In the afternoon, take a public train to Fucecchio, where you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation in San Miniato Alto.

Day 3: San Miniato Alto to Gambassi | 25 km

From San Miniato, a paved road brings you to a spectacular route crossing the typical countryside of the Val d’Elsa. Following the Sigeric’s diary, you meet two “Submansiones”: Pieve di Coiano (XXI, Sce Peter Currant) and Pieve a Chianni (XX, Sce Maria Glan), then you arrive at your accommodation. Dinner is included at the accommodation tonight.

Day 4: Gambassi to San Gimignano | 18 km

Today you enjoy the wonderful surroundings of the Via Francigena. Before walking up to the peculiar villages of Collemuccioli and Pieve di Cellole, stop for a visit at the Sanctuary in Pancole. If you arrive early, take some time to visit the famous town of San Gimignano and enjoy its charming medieval atmosphere.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6 hrs ↑595 m ↓540 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in San Gimignano (Hotel La Cisterna or similar)

Day 5: San Gimignano to Gracciano | 21 km

Today you walk a gorgeous path of the Via Francigena. Going up and down the Tuscan hills, crossing vineyards, olive groves, fields and woods, you finally reach your accommodation in Gracciano. Along the way, you can make a detour to discover the fascinating Abbey of Santa Maria a Conero of the XI century.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 6 hrs ↑209 m ↓204 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Colle Val d’Elsa (Hotel Il Pietreto or similar)

Day 6: Gracciano to Monteriggioni | 13 km

From Gracciano, cross Pieve a Elsa and meet the ancient Etruscan Thermae (hot pool) of Caldane. After reaching Strove and its beautiful Romanesque Church, continue walking along the complex of Abbadia a Isola till you reach the medieval town of Monteriggioni, surrounded by its peculiar crown of towers. 

Day 7: Monteriggioni to Siena | 20 km

Leaving Monteriggioni, you walk on dirt roads along the Montagnola Senese, the main hilly area in the district. You pass the ancient medieval suburb of Cerbaia that appears currently abandoned. Across the wood, you reach the Castle of “Chiocciola” and go up to Poggio di Riciano. Descend the old river of the Pian del Lago (or skip Poggio di Riciano to arrive directly from Chiocciola to Pian del Lago). At the end of the Renai forest, enter the beautiful town of Siena for its ancient pilgrim’s access to Porta Camollia. 

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 6 hrs ↑224 m ↓245 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Siena (Hotel Chiusarrelli or similar)

Day 8: Siena to Lucignano d’Arbia | 21 km

After breakfast, you start your wonderful Via Francigena trip along the astonishing Tuscan countryside. Walking alongside cultivated meadows, with their colours changing from the greens and yellows of spring and summer to okras of Autumn, you will pass through the medieval village of Cuna, just a few hundred meters before entering the town of Monteroni d’Arbia, with its famous watermill. The last part of the walk leads you to the fortified hamlet of Lucignano d’Arbia, along its characteristic cypress tree-lined entrance.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 7 hrs ↑307 m ↓467 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Lucignano d’Arbia (Hotel Borgo Antico or similar)

Day 9: Lucignano d’Arbia to Buonconvento | 14 km

Today’s walk is through a series of rolling hills and wheat-cultivated meadows in the heart of the “Crete Senesi”, a clay area that never ceases to amaze the passerby, with the distinctive grey-coloured soil that makes it look like you’re on the moon. Your destination for today is the walled town of Buonconvento, rightly considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 5 hrs ↑259 m ↓293 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Buonconvento (Hotel Ghibellino or similar)

Day 10: Buonconvento to San Quirico d’Orcia | 22 km

Today your journey will take you towards San Quirico, over dirt roads and some asphalted ones: these, however, will be compensated by the beautiful views of the Val D’Orcia, among hills tinted with charming shades and scattered with vineyards and cypress trees. In San Quirico you will stand enchanted before the gate of the Collegiata, trying to recognize the various architectural styles that blend into its decorations, before enjoying a rest among the green hedges of the Horti Leonini, a 15th-century garden.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 7 hrs ↑500 m ↓400 m
  • Accommodation: country hotel in San Quirico d’Orcia (B&B Locanda del Sorriso or similar)

Day 11: San Quirico d’Orcia to Castiglione | 9 km

You will continue your journey across the fabulous landscapes of the Val D’Orcia: just beyond San Quirico you will enter a timeless world visiting Vignoni Alto, and you will be able to enjoy a reinvigorating rest in the thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni, with its pool in the middle of the main square. The other pearl of the day is Castiglione, in the heart of the Val d’Orcia, which you will pass close by as you travel across one of the most beautiful panoramic sections of the whole Via Francigena.

  • Walking for the day: 9 km, 4 hrs ↑200 m ↓300 m
  • Accommodation: gueshouse in Castiglione (B&B Il Vecchietta or similar)

Day 12: Castiglione to Radicofani | 21 km

Today you will test your strength with a demanding section of your journey which will take you as far as Radicofani, but you will enjoy the opportunity of seeing the magnificent view from the Radicofani fortress. You will also be able to visit the Pieve di San Pietro, a little jewel dating back to the thirteenth century, and take an evening walk in its old town centre, admiring the magic of the illuminated Fortress.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 7 hrs ↑900 m ↓300 m
  • Accommodation: agriturismo in Radicofani (Agriturismo La Selvella or similar)

Day 13: Radicofani to Aquapendente | 25 km

A long walk is ahead of you, but also one of the most rewarding, thanks to the astonishing panorama you will be offered. A short car transfer will lead to the main square of Radicofani: the imposing Rocca (the castle) is dominating the entire valley, giving a view stretching out for kilometres over the Tuscan hills and Monta Amiata. Through the valley bottom of the Val di Paglia and following the old consular road Via Cassia you will climb for the last time before reaching Acquapendente, the northernmost municipality of Lazio. You will pass through the Porta della Ripa before entering its old town centre. You will have a short transfer from Centeno to Ponte Gregoriano to avoid a section with car traffic.

  • Walking for the day: 25 km, 10 hrs ↑516 m ↓972 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Acquapendente (Albergo Toscana or similar)

Day 14: Aquapendete to Bolsena | 23 km

Your journey will continue gently as far as the first views of Lake Bolsena: from here, you will descend into a volcanic crater and continue along dirt tracks, alternating thick woods with meadows scattered with olive trees, before reaching the charming lake village of Bolsena. If you are curious to see proof of the miracle of the Corpus Domini, for which Bolsena is famous, in the Cappella del Miracolo some marble slabs stained by the blood pouring from a Host in the thirteen century are kept. 

Day 15: Bolsena to Montefiascone | 18 km

Today you walk from Bolsena along the crest of the hills surrounding the east part of the caldera lake. Arrive in Montefiascone, a medieval Papal town sitting atop a volcanic ridge overlooking the caldera lake, the surrounding plain and the Cimini Mountains. The Fortress of the Popes in Montefiascone is worth a visit.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 5 hrs ↑600 m ↓330 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Montefiascone (Hotel Urbano V or similar)

Day 16: Montefiascone to Viterbo | 18 km

The route from Montefiascone is along a plain that divides Bolsena Lake from the Cimini Mountains. There are no residential areas along the route, but there are some old drinking fountains. Arrive in Viterbo and take some time to explore the charming old town with its Papal Palace (Palazzo dei Papi), cathedral, quaint Medieval quarter and many churches and squares; stroll the narrow lanes and enjoy a cup of fresh Italian espresso.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6 hrs ↑174 m ↓430 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Viterbo (Hotel Palazzo Riario or similar)

Day 17: Viterbo to Vetralla | 17 km

Today, the Via Francigena trail again takes you through some beautiful and unspoilt Etruscan landscapes. Shortly after leaving Viterbo, you will come to the lovely abbey in La Quercia and Bagnaia with the fantastic gardens of Villa Lante. Avoiding the main roads, you will walk across gently rolling hills without any villages along the way before you reach your stop for the night: Vetralla.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 6 hrs ↑290 m ↓310 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Vetralla (Antica Locanda or similar)

Day 18: Vetralla to Sutri | 26 km

Today’s route is quite long. From Vetralla you walk along the volcano side, which crater was occupied by the Lake Vico in the past. Continue across the Etruscan countryside until you reach the tiny village of Capranica. From here, you walk down to a tuff gorge by following the stream. The track is very striking, but sometimes it could be difficult because of the water flow. Finally, you arrive in Sutri, a lovely little town with the Etruscan tombs and Roman amphitheatre being the most notable sights.

  • Walking for the day: 26 km, 7 hrs ↑470 m ↓475 m
  • Accommodation: Agriturismo in Sutri (Agriturismo Montefosco or similar)

Day 19: Sutri to Campagnano di Roma | 25 km

From Sutri, you will continue your pilgrimage to Rome, walking across the beautiful and rugged Lazio countryside. The Francigena trail will pass an abundance of streams, waterfalls and ponds. The rivers have carved wonderful deep valleys, with lush vegetation, ideal for a rest. The first section of the route takes you across fields to Monterosi, then you reach the Monte Gelato waterfalls, a park where you can rest and have a bath. Then you walk along a panoramic excavated street leading to Campagnano di Roma doors. To shorten the day’s walk it is possible to pre-arrange a morning transfer (not included) to the picturesque village of Monterosi, from where you walk to Campagnano di Roma.

  • Walking for the day: 25 km, 7 hrs ↑380 m ↓400 m (shorter option: 15 km, 5 hrs)
  • Accommodation: countryside hotel in Campagnano di Roma (Albergo Benigni or similar)

Day 20: Campagnano di Roma to Isola Farnese / La Giustiniana | 22 km/27 km

Today you will walk in the Roma countryside. The itinerary is quite flat with dirt roads or country trails, with just some hills in the final part; across lovely wooded valleys and crossing a few streams. Along the way, you will reach the sanctuary of Sorbo and the archaeological site of Veii with the remains of an ancient Etruscan city.

NB! From 2023 the overnight place will be La Giustiniana and not Isola Farnese.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 6-7 hrs ↑430 m ↓600 m / 2023: 27 km, 7-8 hrs ↑430 m ↓600 m
  • Accommodation: countryside hotel in Isola Farnese (Hotel Tempio di Apollo or similar; from 2023 – Resort La Rocchetta)

Day 21: Isola Farnese/La Giustiniana to Rome | 22 km/16.5 km

The Via Francigena will take you from La Storta through Rome’s suburbs and into Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican. You can choose to reach Rome by public transportation or walk your way to Rome. Part of the walk to the city is through Insugherata park, a beautiful natural reserve a few steps away from the bustling city. As you approach the eternal city, you can stop for a triumphant photograph at the Monte Mario Belvedere. From here, you can see a glimpse of Saint Peter’s dome before descending towards the city to finally reach Piazza San Pietro, your ending point. Once in Rome, make sure you claim your Testimonium certificate of pilgrimage. If you want to maximise your time in Rome, it is possible to skip most of today’s walk by taking a local bus or train.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 6 hrs ↑360 m ↓450 m / 2023: 16.5 km, 5 hrs ↑360 m ↓450 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Rome (Hotel Domus Sessoriana or similar)

Day 22: Departure

Departure on your own or extra nights in Rome upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in selected 2-star and 3-star hotels, agriturismi* and inns. All rooms have en-suite facilities. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Some accommodations have a swimming pool. The hotel in Monteriggioni is located at ~1.6 km from the walled village of Monteriggioni. If you prefer to stay in the city centre, you have to inform us in advance, but there are only two options – a room rental and a 4-star hotel with a supplement – Hotel Monteriggioni.

Click to view default hotels

*What is an agriturismo? A combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian — It is a farm-stay, but it’s also much, much more. Typically, an agriturismo is an independently-owned farm that the owners have decided to use partially for accommodation purposes, in a way similar to English or American bed and breakfasts. One of the best parts of staying in a traditional agriturismo? The food. An Italian agriturismo will usually serve guests food that was prepared from raw materials – vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, and often wine and olive oil – produced on the farm or from other local merchants.

**Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included every day, as well as 4 dinners (Day 3, 12, 17 & 18) and 2 picnic lunches. Remember to collect the packed lunch before starting the walk on the mornings of days 18 and 19. Packed lunches can be pre-ordered at the accommodations or you can buy products from local shops. For dinner, you will usually have plenty of options in the villages you are staying in.

Difficulty & terrain

The route from Lucca to Siena is relatively easy and accessible due to low elevation gains. Then it becomes moderate to demanding, but there are no particularly steep ascents. After Bolsena, you will follow Roman roads, paths, forest trails and dirt tracks across the undulating and green Lazio countryside. There are just some points where you need to cross a stream and can be more difficult in case of overflow.  A good level of fitness is required for enjoying the walks to the maximum (read more about difficulty grades). The whole itinerary is mostly on paths and gravel roads (strade bianche), even if you will find some sections on asphalted roads. Some walks are quite long but can be optionally shortened using local transport or private transfers. The whole itinerary is well marked by the Official signs of the Via Francigena – white-red markings and a yellow sign with the Pilgrim symbol on it. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.

When to go

You can start your holiday every day between the beginning of April and the end of October. Spring and autumn months are a preferred travel period if you want to avoid the summer heat of July and August (If you’d like to catch the famous Palio di Siena, you will have to travel in July or August, however). In September – October, you will enjoy pleasant temperatures and might also be able to catch the grape harvest in Tuscany.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended arrival airports for this holiday are Florence and Pisa. The recommended departure airport is Rome Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport. Other Italian airports are also well connected to the area.

By train or bus

Arrival in Lucca
From Pisa Airport (PSA), you can take a train to Lucca with a 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 a change in Pisa Centrale). Or you can use the Omio planner above.

Departure from Rome
To Rome airport FCO: there are regular buses, shuttles and trains from Rome city to the airport: https://www.adr.it/web/aeroporti-di-roma-en/pax-fco-train

To Florence airport FLR: you first need to reach Florence train station Santa Maria Novella by train. Once in Santa Maria Novella, you can reach the airport by either taxi or bus.

Inclusions

Included

  • 21 nights in selected 2-star, 3-star hotels and agriturismi, private en-suite rooms
  • 21 breakfasts
  • 4 dinners on Day 3, 12, 17 & 18
  • 2 picnic lunches
  • Transfer from San Miniato train station to the hotel on Day 2
  • Transfers on Day 13: agriturismo-Radicofani & Centeno-Ponte Gregoriano
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days (1 piece per person up to 20 kg with sizes 60x50x40 cm; each additional item should be paid; on day 2, you need to take your luggage with you on the train to San Miniato)
  • Holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route notes and maps (digital copy sent by email and a hard copy delivered at the first hotel) & pilgrim passport
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and 17 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Public transport and optional private transfers
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Local tourist tax & entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights
  • Accommodation at a 4-star hotel in Monteriggioni in the centre – on request and with a supplement.

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