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Via Francigena: San Miniato to Buonconvento

Via Francigena in Tuscany: San Miniato to Buonconvento

Overview

Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage trail from Canterbury to Rome is getting increasingly popular among modern wayfarers for a reason. Crossing through the heart of Italy, the path reveals amazing sceneries, cultural heritage and history, providing many opportunities for enriching adventures.

We offer you a walk in the heart of Via Francigena that combines the famous towns and villages such as Siena and San Gimignano with beautiful hamlets such as San Miniato, allowing you to discover the very best of the Tuscan Via Francigena in a single trip. The route starts in San Miniato, one of the hidden gems of Via Francigena, continuing along a path of extraordinary beauty: from the thousand-year-old Pieve di Chianni to the crenellated towers of the Monteriggioni Castle and the fascinating region of Siena. You then continue along the legendary pilgrim paths of Siena, among fortified hamlets where time seems to have stopped, finishing at Buonconvento.

Besides the amazing landscapes, you will also be able to taste the genuine Tuscan kitchen in its entire variety, from the precious white truffle of San Miniato to the tasty pici of Siena, not to mention the yellow gold of San Gimignano: the saffron.

Highlights

  • The fascinating Tuscany countryside full of vineyards and the picturesque rolling hills of Crete Senesi
  • The historic fortified village of Monteriggioni
  • The charming UNESCO towns of San Gimignano and Siena
  • Small, comfortable, family-run accommodations offering delicious Tuscan culinary specialities

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Itinerary

Day 1: San Miniato Alto

Your travel starts from San Miniato, the jewel of Via Francigena. Depending on the time of your arrival you have the rest of the day for exploring the cultural sites of the city such as the Seminary, from which the main square takes its name.

Day 2: San Miniato Alto to Gambassi Terme | 25 km

Starting your walk, a paved road brings you to a spectacular route crossing the countryside of the Val d’Elsa. On the route, you pass through two “Submansiones”: Pieve di Coiano and Pieve a Chianni, arriving at your place for overnight. Dinner is included at the accommodation tonight.

Day 3: Gambassi to San Gimignano | 18 km

Today you enjoy the wonderful surroundings of the Via Francigena. On the way to the authentic villages of Collemuccioli and Pieve di Cellole, you can 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. Dinner is on your own in one of the many restaurants in town.

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

Day 4: San Gimignano to Gracciano | 21 km

Today you start your walk going up and down the Tuscan hills through vineyards, olive groves, fields and woods, reaching your accommodation in Gracciano. Along the way, you can make a detour to discover the fascinating Abbey of Santa Maria a Coneo 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 5: 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, you continue walking along the complex of Abbadia a Isola until you reach the medieval town of Monteriggioni, surrounded by its peculiar crown of towers.

Day 6: 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 and descend along 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, you enter the beautiful town of Siena for its ancient pilgrim’s access of Porta Camollia. Dinner is on your own in one of the many restaurants in town.

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

Day 7: Siena to Lucignano d’Arbia | 21 km

After saying goodbye to Siena, resting on the hills on the horizon, you travel along the typical dirt roads of Siena as far as the fortified village of Lucignano, with its fine Church. At the gates of Monteroni d’Arbia, you will be able to admire the impressive Grancia di Cuna, a fortified farm which held the reserves of wheat for the republic of Siena.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 6-7 hrs, ↑307 m ↓467 m
  • Accommodation: hotel in Lucignano d’Arbia (Hotel Borgo Antico or similar)

Day 8: Lucignano to Buonconvento | 14 km

From Lucignano you continue your journey through the Valle dell’Ombrone to Buonconvento. Once you cross the gate of the walls, entering the fine old town centre of the village, you will discover why its name means “happy fortunate place”: you walk through the picturesque streets, where life is lived quietly following the slow rhythms of a provincial village, and if you love art, you will be able to admire the works of some of the most famous Sienese painters in the Museum of Sacred Art of the Val d’Arbia.

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

Day 9: Departure

Departure on your own or extension upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in selected 3-star hotels and agriturismi*. Some of the places chosen have a swimming pool. 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. 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 ItalianIt 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; dinner is included only on day 2. Throughout the trip, there are plenty of opportunities to taste both the great local food and a wide range of the region’s prestigious wines.

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 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

From Pisa Airport, you can take a bus, a taxi or a train to Pisa Centrale Train Station, then take the train to San Miniato. There are many daily direct trains from Pisa to Lucca, but sometimes you have to change in Empoli. The ride takes from 30 to 50 minutes depending on the train you take. Price varies from EUR 4,50 to EUR 6,10, one way depending on the train you take. You can check the updated timetables on this website.

From Florence Airport, take a taxi or the public “Vola in bus” to Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station. There are several daily direct trains from Florence to San Miniato. The ride can take from 40 to 55 minutes depending on the train you take. The price is about EUR 5,50 per person one way, depending on the train you take.

To Pisa Airport: There are no direct trains running from Buonconvento to Pisa, therefore you will need to change train once or even twice (usually in Empoli, Siena or Grosseto). The ride can take from 2hrs. 20 minutes up to 3hrs. 15 minutes and the price varies from EUR 12 to EUR 30 (or more) per person one way, it all depends on the train you take. From Pisa Centrale, you can take a bus, train or taxi to reach Pisa Airport.

To Florence Airport: There are no direct trains running from Buonconvento to Florence, therefore you will need to change train once or even twice (usually in Empoli or Siena). The ride can take 2 – 2.5 hours and the price is approximately EUR 12 per person one way, it all depends on the train you take. From Florence Santa Maria Novella you can take a bus or taxi to reach Florence Airport.

Inclusions

Included

  • 8 nights in selected B&Bs, hotels and agriturismi
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 1 dinner on Day 2
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days (only 1 piece per person up to 15 kg; there is a supplement for each additional bag)
  • 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)
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and 7 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, еxtras & 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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