The Via Francigena or Camino to Rome takes pilgrims across some of Europe’s most stunning regions, including Tuscany in Italy. Four sections (12, 13, 14 and 15) of the Via Francigena route cross Tuscany, all the way from Passo della Cissa mountain pass in the Appenines (Via Francigena section 12) to the Val d’Orcia in section 15. However, section 14 from Lucca to Siena remains the most popular stretch of the Camino do Rome, the Via Francigena in Tuscany.
While walking in Tuscany, you will be rewarded with wonderful picture-perfect landscapes: lush fields dotted with terracotta farm houses, vineyards that stretch for miles and rolling hills topped with vertigo-defying castles and medieval villages. Your taste buds will also be pleased to be treated to the superb local food and wine after your walk: Tuscany is the land of Chianti, white truffles and an immensity of delicious cured meats. Besides all that, these are some of the most spectacular places you will find while walking the Via Francigena in Tuscany.
Lucca is the starting point of section 14 of the Via Francigena. While this section’s most stunning part starts once you reach San Miniato, Lucca is a city that shouldn’t be missed, even if you decide to start your walk further ahead. Lucca’s most striking feature is its 16th century 4km-long wall, wrapping itself all around the old town. The wall is perfect to go for a jog, a walk or a cycle. Inside the wall, explore its cobbled streets and piazzas, admire the San Martino cathedral or simply relax and watch the world go by with a cup of coffee or a gelatto.
Lucca is also the home place of composer Puccini. The city hosts an important music festival every summer, that honours its musical tradition.
San Gimignano of the beautiful towers
As you approach the end of your walking day, the 14 medieval towers of San Gimignano will come into view. It is an impressive and imposing sight for Via Francigena pilgrims arriving in ‘San Gimignano delle belle Torri’, San Gimignano of the beautiful towers on foot. This now UNESCO-listed hilltop town was once controlled by two rival families who built 72 tower houses, as a symbol of their wealth and always trying to outdo each other. 14 of those towers remain (of up to 54 metres), giving the town its unique medieval look. It is also believed, it was this rivalry that gave Shakespeare his idea for the plot of Romeo and Juliet.
Monteriggioni is small in size but makes a big impression.This tiny village was an important walled castle and remains intact since the 13rd century, welcoming pilgrims into its central square where you will find the Church of Santa Maria Assunta and a couple of cafes where you can relax. You can also take a tour of the walls to enjoy panoramic views of the region. Each July, Monteriggioni is also host to a Medieval Festival, one of the most impressive in the region.
UNESCO-listed Siena is one of Italy’s most visited cities and for a good reason. The historic centre of Siena is listed as a UNESCO site for its amazingly preserved medieval structure and Gothic architecture, built around the central Piazza del Campo. This curved square is home to the Palazzo Pubblico and its tower, as well as hosting the heart-stopping Palio di Siena horse race in July and August. The classic Tuscan cathedral, or Duomo, and the Museo Civico are also a must-see in Siena. Siena marks the end of section 14 of the Via Francigena, and the beginning of section 15.
Outstanding Val d’Orcia
Section 15 of the Via Francigena in Tuscany starts in Siena and enters immediately the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO-listed region of outstanding natural beauty and landscapes carefully designed in the Renaissance. Here you will find the classic Tuscan white tracks weaving paths among the ever-stretching vineyards. Peaceful farm houses lined by cypress trees, hilltop castles and medieval villages dot this historic and idyllic countryside.
At FrancigenaWays.com we have divided the Via Francigena in 16 useful sections to be covered easily over a week, however your trip can be completely tailor made and adapted to the time you have available. Sections can be combined and our travel specialists will be able to advice on different starting points along the route.