Via Francigena Part 1


Join us on the new 8-day pilgrimage tour! This 100 km section of the Via Francigena will take
you across the countryside of Tuscany from Lucca to Siena. Rolling hills, small forests, riverside
trails and vineyards connect the famous medieval villages of San Miniato, San Gimignano and
Monteriggioni leading to the scallop shell shaped Piazza del Campo in Siena.

This legendary path, The Via Francigena, follows a route traced by Julius Cesar in 58 BC called
“The way of the Sun” connecting his northern provinces with the capital, Rome. One thousand
years later, the Archbishop Sigericus of Canterbury, traveled this route leaving a detailed
description called the Iter Francorum, or the way of the Franks. During the following centuries,
hundreds of thousands of pilgrims traveled to Rome by way of the Via Francigena. There were
those seeking indulgences granted as early as the year 1300, merchants with goods to trade,
soldiers defending their territories, emperors, bankers, diplomats, and adventurers, all walked to
Rome on this road. The Via Francigena, together with the Camino de Santiago in Spain,
became the backbone of the ancient road system of Western Europe throughout the middle-

In 1994, this route was declared “European Cultural Itinerary” and was awarded the title of
“Major Cultural Route” in 2004 by the European Council.

What’s Included

  • Meet your tour leader in Lucca (Tuscany).
  • Van support during the trip for you & your luggage
  • 7 nights of hotels with private bathrooms
  • Bi-lingual guide
  • Daily maps & historical information
  • Pilgrims credential (passport)
  • Healthy snacks
  • All breakfasts
  • Five dinners, wine included
  • Guided tours of Lucca and Siena
  • Spontaneous side trips!

PRIVATE tailor-made trips are available upon request. Please ask us for details.


Day 1: Lucca

Benvenuto! Meet and greet your Spanish Steps guides in Lucca, “Città d’arte” (City of Art). Your guides will meet you at 2 PM at the train station. From its intact Renaissance-era city walls to the elegant central plaza lined with cafes, restaurants and ‘palazzos’ we’ll wander the tiny streets and alleyways, visiting churches, galleries and piazzas. Still an important musical center, you’ll find the homes of Luigi Boccherini, an 18 th century composer and cellist, and Giacomo Puccini, the 19 th century composer who gave us such greats as La Bohéme, Madame Butterfly and La Tosca. A high-quality olive oil from Lucca has been exported throughout the world for centuries along with wines from the Colline Lucchesi, the rolling hills that we’re about to set out on. The day isn’t over yet. We’ll meet in the dining room to get to know each other over a glass of wine and plate of homemade tordelli, a stuffed pasta and other delectable items on the menu. A welcoming dinner included.

Day 2: San Miniato

We’ll start our day by getting a pilgrim stamp in our passports. From the cathedral, we’ll make our way to the Via Roma and head south to the gate of Porta Elsa where the pilgrimage trail leaves the city. Once at this gate, you’ll want to thank your guides for getting a lift out of the city as the first stage of the Via Francigena from Lucca is mainly along a busy highway and through industrial parks. From the small town of Galleno we’ll walk the most beautiful sections of the trail through forests and along canals to reach Fucecchio. A short drive will take us across the Arno River and up to the hill town of San Miniato where we’ll spend the night. San Miniato is most famous for its world-renowned truffle market each year. The surrounding area produces some of the finest white truffles in the world so much of the local cuisine is infused with these aromatic fungi. The historic center that has been largely untouched by time and is perfect for an evening stroll and taking in the panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside. A visit to the brick Duomo and the small art museum before dinner is worthwhile to glimpse the likes of Filippo Lippi, Fra Bartolomeo and Verrocchio. 12 km / 7,5 miles. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 3: Gambassi Terme

This will be one of the most challenging days as we hit the hills of Tuscany on this forested section of the trail. We get a lift for the first few kilometers out of San Miniato to avoid traffic but once we’re along the Tuscan hills, we’ll become enchanted by the scenery and the shade of the chestnut and oak trees eventually opening out into sweeping views of the countryside. An ancient land, once home to Etruscans and Romans, Gambassi was the stopping place for wayfarers and pilgrims traveling the Via Francigena in the Middle Ages. The “Terme della Via Francigena” spa stands in this happy setting, nestled in magical centuries-old woodland offering a wide range of wellness programs. 17 km / 10,6 miles. Breakfast included. Dinner on your own tonight.

Day 4: San Gimignano

One of the shortest days on our journey but laden with optical pleasures as we take in the views of this splendid medieval town with its many tall, elegant towers. Our walk will take us across the wonderful countryside to finally reach the Pieve di Cellole, an amazingly preserved XII Century church which also inspired one of Puccini’s operas. We’ll shuttle from here to San Gimignano. A hilltop setting, San Gimignano is known for its medieval architecture and the preservation of a dozen towers as well as Romanesque and Gothic churches and handsome palazzos making this one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There once stood 72 towers used in textile production, but many were destroyed during family feuds and religious wars. There’s a reason why it’s called the medieval Manhattan! Originally built over an ancient Etruscan site it later became a stopping point on the Via Francigena. Leading up to the town, you’ll find yourself in vineyards of the Vernaccia grape variety, a crisp white wine with a citrus essence. Saffron is one of the products cultivated in the fields alongside the grapes. It’s mainly used in cooking but was once the main dye for the fabrics that were produced here. The streets will roll up once the tourist buses depart for the night leaving you to wallow in history and any ghosts that you happen to cross paths with. 12 km / 7,5 miles. Breakfast included. Dinner will be on your own.

Day 5: Colle di Val d’Elsa

Say goodbye to San Gimignano as a pleasant walk will lead us away from the city gate to another hilltop town, Colle di Val d’Elsa. Take in the sweeping views of the undulating countryside thick with olive groves, vineyards and hill towns. After crossing the Elsa River enter Colle through the Porta Nova to the Colle Alta we will head to the crystal glassware factory for a guided tour of this family run business that keeps the art of glass making alive, a tradition that dates back some 800 years in this area. 11 km / 6,8 miles Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 6: Monteriggioni

This morning we leave town by way of the Elsa River National Park. The trail follows and crosses the river several times and it is a common destination for local families’ picnics and fishing. More Tuscan charm awaits as we trek through forest, villages and vineyards. Once we reach the base of Monte Maggio, we come to a Romanesque stone abbey founded in 1001 by a noblewoman named Ava of the Staggia family. This site, Abbadia d’Isola was once surrounded by water and served as a pilgrim’s inn for travelers to Rome but became decimated by constant battles over the centuries. The abbey has since been restored and some of the outer buildings are used for events. A steep path leads us up into a scene of the Divine Comedy. As we cross through the gate we step back in time to the Dante Alighieri days of poetry and plague, into the magical medieval gem of Monteriggioni. Kick back at a café on the Piazza Roma and take in the 14 towers and the fortified walls built in the 13 th century. 17 km / 10,6 miles. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 7: Siena

Arrivederci Monteriggioni! Our final day of walking will take us through the quietest section of the Via Francigena – limited cafes and services on this stretch of the trail. The walk will be through pleasant countryside with hill towns and towers off in the distance. At kilometer 15, we will board the van one last time to skip the busy roads into Siena and get dropped off at Viale Cavour where we walk through the gate of Camolia which will eventually lead us to the Piazza del Campo where a celebratory bottle of Prosecco awaits. At the Cathedral Pilgrim office, we’ll be awarded the certificate of completion. Complimenti Pellegrini! You made it. 10 km / 6,2 miles. Breakfast and our farewell dinner included.

Day 8: Tour End

Before we say our goodbyes, a local historian will tour us around the city to learn about the history of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the 17 contrade that make up the fabric of the city, the Doumo, and the exciting Palio horse race that takes in July and August.