Tuscany - Along the Via Francigena from San Gimignano to Siena - TUS 2
This is a moderately easy tour which is suitable for those who have some experience with walking and a good general physical condition. Through the extensive footpath network of the area, roughly following the traces of the Via Francigena, one of Europe’s most important ‘high ways’ in medieval times, you walk from village to village, a full immersion in the world-famed Tuscan landscape.
It is a perfect introduction to the region and for people who love museums and galleries, Gothic and Romanesque architecture, there is plenty to see and do. You have plenty of time for attraction visits on most days.
You have the time to visit the all the beautiful medieval villages and historic towns along the Via Francigena: Monteriggioni, already admired by Dante, San Gimignano, Colle Val d’Elsa and of course Siena, arguably the most perfectly preserved medieval town of Tuscany. This tour threads together some of the most attractive towns and villages in Tuscany in an eloquent procession.
However the emphasis of the tour is to enjoy the countryside, the rolling vineyards, poppies in Spring and the wild cyclamen in autumn. Most of all, many of the views have changed little for hundreds of years. The area North of Siena is an amazing landscape of rolling hills, alternating vineyards and forests, while cypresses line the way leading to the distant farmhouses. Walking here is an unforgettable experience!
You spend a night in beautiful Colle Val d’Elsa, a few nights in one of the best agriturismo’s of Tuscany, and the last night in the heart of Siena, in one of the most characteristic small hotels.
Arrival in Florence and transfer to Colle Val d’Elsa (either by private taxi or public transport), where you settle in your hotel in the old town, known for its perfectly preserved “tunnel” streets and for its crystal ware. According to your arrival time, you can go for a short visit to the town centre.
Total walking time: around 1 hour + sightseeing time.
The first day walk takes you at first through the whole historical town centre of Colle Val D’Elsa, perhaps not as famous as other Tuscan towns, but with a very interesting centre. Then you descend into the valley where you pick up one of the supposed routes of the ancient Via Francigena. Along this route, through a pleasant hilly landscape of vineyards and forests you reach the small hamlet of Bibbiano. Another descent brings you down into the valley of the river Foci. Follows a short stretch through the river valley and past an old water mill. Then you start to climb up along a comfortable track up to the beautiful agriturismo, where you will spend the next two nights. Be sure to be there on time, to enjoy its fabulous setting and surroundings, and perhaps its library or swimming pool. For those who want there is also a longer option to walk to here. Dinner at the private restaurant is included tonight.
Total walking time: around 3,5 hours + sightseeing time (4-5 hours with extra option).
After breakfast you begin your walk to San Gimignano, directly from the agriturismo. First make your way up along the ridge to the small hamlets of Ciuciano and San Donato, passing along several old ‘pievi’ (countryside churches) and villa’s and often with wonderful views of the skyline of San Gimignano. This town – sometimes referred to as having the only “skyscrapers” in Tuscany – is an absolute must, a wonderful medieval city with picturesque vineyards, olive and cypress groves on either side. You have time to explore this small romantic old town with towers that remain from medieval times. The town once had 52 of these towers (there are now less than a dozen). Wealthy, prominent families would use the height of these towers to distinguish themselves, and the towers also served to alert the inhabitants of this walled town of approaching friends and foes. Do make a nice stroll along its impressive medieval town walls. In the town itself there are numerous places to enjoy lunch. Then you follow the Via Francigena back to your agriturismo: first to the convent of Monte Oliveto, located on a wide ridge, then down to a small stream, which you have to cross, before you climb back up to your agriturismo. At night you have another good meal at the agriturismo.
Total walking time: around 4 – 5 hours (+ circa 1 h. in San Gimignano – various options).
Today you leave the agriturismo, heading for Monteriggioni, defined by Dante as a crown in the landscape. The walk first brings you down into the river valley, and then more or less following the Foci, you reach one of the most wonderful Romanesque churches of Tuscany, la Badia a Conèo. The next stop is Quartaia, followed by Gracciano, once one of the most important wheat towns of Tuscany. Another short stretch brings you to the Badia ad Isola, once an important stop on the medieval Via Francigena, and a very intriguing building. The final destination for today is Monteriggioni, where you’ll have the time for a drink in the square. Then you are picked up by your taxi and transferred to Siena, where you settle in your centrally located hotel, and just a few minutes away from the famous ‘Piazza del Campo’. In the evening you can take a nice stroll into town to have dinner in one of the many nice restaurants, or sip a drink in the ‘Piazza del Campo’.
Total walking time: around 5 hours + sightseeing time.
End of the tour. From Siena there are regular buses back to Florence (and also to Rome).
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic family-run hotels (generally 3-star; 4/5-star on request) and beautiful agriturismo’s. All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Accommodation is generally on B&B basis, in most accommodations. Only in the agriturismo (2 nights) you are on half board-basis, the other nights you will be free to organise your dinner. You can either eat at the premises of the hotel (on some occasions) or choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the area. Your accommodation holder can give you good tips.
No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation holders, or materials for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you stay. On some occasions you have the option to have your lunch in a restaurant along the way.
Night 1: The first night is spent in Colle Val d’Elsa. Here you stay in a comfortable 3-star hotel in the old town centre, centrally located at walking distance from the bus station, all the main monuments of the medieval town centre and close to many nice restaurants.
Nights 2 & 3: These are spent at one of the nicest agriturismo’s of Tuscany, a beautifully restored old fortress along the Via Francigena. The evening dinners are prepared by one of the best Tuscan chefs, who is also a painter.
Night 4: The last night is spent in a good hotel in the historic heart of Siena.
It is possible to upgrade this tour, staying in more luxurious 4-star hotels (except for the agriturismo in San Gimignano – which is already 4-star level). Accommodation in Pienza is also available, to substitute for the days in Montepulciano.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderately easy (2-3): Mostly easy walks, but with nonetheless some walking uphill, sometimes on paths with rough surfaces. On some days extensions or shortcuts are possible.
Fitness: High standard of fitness is not necessary but clients should be able to walk for up to 5 hours a day in hot sun on dusty or stony tracks.
N.B. During Summer, due to the heat, the level of difficulty of this tour definitely increases. We do therefore not recommend to book this tour from about 14th July until 20th August.
FOOT PATHS & WAYMARKING
Most paths are relatively well maintained; on many occasions you’ll follow so-called strade bianche (un-surfaced roads), easy to follow and very unlikely to get overgrown (we continuously check our routes – please help us by providing you feedback on the quality of the paths).
Waymarking:A large part of the route is waymarked , but on some occasions we have found more interesting routes than those actually waymarked; therefore it is necessary to follow the route descriptions provided together with the maps. With these it is always possible to find your route
- 1 night in Colle Val d’Elsa*** – BB
- 2 nights in S. Gimignano**** – HB
- 1 night in Siena*** – BB
- 1 Transfer luggage Colle Val d’Elsa – Torraccia di Chiusi (day 2)
- 1 Transfer Monteriggioni – Siena (day 4)
- Extensive route notes, with description of the route & tourist information
- Maps at 1 : 25.000 scale
- 24/24 h local assistance
- Luggage transport
- Departure taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Optional additional tours or activities
- Items of personal nature
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in COLLE VAL D’ELSA, connected with FLORENCE by a frequent bus service.
A taxi pick-up service can be arranged either from Florence (hotel, airport or train station), or from Pisa (airport).
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast on day 5 in SIENA. A frequent bus service can bring you back to Florence. Upon request a taxi service is available to bring you directly to your next destination.
|01 December 2016 - 28 February 2017||- - -||- - -||- - -||CONTACT US|
|01 March - 07 April 2017||€ 510||€ 110||€ 160||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|08 April - 17 April 2017||€ 520||€ 110||€ 160||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|18 April - 31 October 2017||€ 510||€ 110||€ 160||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 November 2017 - 28 February 2018||- - -||- - -||- - -||CONTACT US|
|You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
- Prices are per person and based on the season within which the first night of the tour falls.
- Prices are based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation. Single rooms (double rooms – single) are available on most trips however the supplements listed apply.
- If you are travelling alone then on some trips (which include taxi transfers) a ‘Solo Traveller Supplement’ will be applied instead of the normal single supplement.
- Prices are expressed in Euro’s. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
It is possible to include some extra nights in your tour, in any of the accommodations ‘en route’. For those who have never been in Siena an extra day here is strongly recommended.
At the beginning or the end of the tour there is the opportunity to visit Florence. The tour can easily be extended with a few days there. Also in ROME several good accommodations are available. Details and prices on request.
The tour can also be extended with a few days on a beautiful agriturismo, for some relax in the countryside. Several superb accommodations are available. Details & prices on request.
SHORTER & LONGER VERSIONS
A longer, 8- or 10-day version of this tour, which includes beautiful walks in Val d’Orcia is also available.
See also our other Tuscany tours !