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Via Francigena in Tuscany: Lucca to Siena 38

Via Francigena in Tuscany: Lucca to Siena

Overview

The Northern Tuscany section of Via Francigena starts in the medieval town of Lucca with its beautiful gardens and villas. The first stage of the tour is through the open and flatlands of the Val d’Elsa. Then you will explore the medieval atmosphere evoked by the narrow streets and the buildings made from the local sandstone of some of the most popular medieval villages in Tuscany, such as Monteriggioni and San Gimignano that with its thirteen outstanding towers became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1990. Reaching Siena, you will enjoy a landscape made of open rolling hills with grey crags of the beautiful and picturesque Crete Senesi.

Highlights

  • The spectacular landscapes of the Tuscany countryside
  • The historical fortified military village of Monteriggioni
  • The charming UNESCO towns of San Gimignano and Siena
  • Delicious Tuscan culinary specialities

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive 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: Arrive San Miniato Alto

After breakfast take some time to visit the wooden crucifix known as the Holy Face (“Volto Santo”), 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. 

  • Walking for the day: 13 km, 4 hrs ↑132 m ↓57 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Monteriggioni (Hotel Borgo Gallinaio or similar)

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 of Porta Camollia. 

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

Day 8: Departure

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

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in selected 3-star hotels in towns and agriturismi* and inns in the villages. 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 hotels have a swimming pool.

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 one dinner (Day 3). 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 is relatively easy and accessible due to low elevation gains. 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 road. 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 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 regional wine harvest.

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. 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 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 change in Pisa Centrale). Or you can use the Omio planner above.

Departure from Siena
To Pisa airport PSA: you first need to reach Florence by bus. Once in Florence, you need to take a train to Pisa Central Station. From there, you can reach the airport by either bus or train. As an alternative, you can catch a bus from Siena station to Pisa airport.

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

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in selected 3-star hotels and agriturismi, private en-suite rooms
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 1 dinner on Day 3
  • Transfer from San Miniato train station to the hotel
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days (1 pc per person up to 15 kg; each additional paid should be paid)
  • Holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route notes and maps (digital copy sent by email and a hard copy delivered at first hotel) & pilgrim passport
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and 6 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • 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

Gallery

Reviews

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Rating

     

Anand

My wife and I did the trip in Sept 2021. Lovely walking sections of the Via Francigena that helped us absorb the best of the Tuscan landscape at our own pace. It is easy to naturally fall into a meditative state while walking even if not a pilgrim.

The hotels were comfortable and luggage transfer was faultless. Highly recommend downloading the GPS coordinates and checking regularly to ensure you're not going off route. This is especially true of the bonus "jungle sections" that veer away from the pilgrim path to avoid road traffic and see a bit of wild Tuscany. I think this is a Natural Adventure special as we never saw anybody else on these jungle sections.

Food can be tricky. Breakfast is served from 8am making it impossible to get an early start. Procuring a packed lunch in the morning was also difficult in some places. You are also reliant on the agrotourismos for dinner in rural areas. The chef in one of them was ill which meant no dinner was offered and the nearest town was several kms walking on unlit paths. Be prepared with snacks in case things don't work out.

The trip offers a nice balance of comfort and adventure that we enjoyed. Would 100% recommend.