Via Francigena: Lucca to Siena for the Leukaemia Foundation

Journey by foot through Tuscan hills and countryside on the Via Francigena, the Italian Camino, between the charming towns of Lucca and Siena

Challenge Highlights

  • Join friends to raise funds and awareness for the Leukaemia Foundation
  • Following in the footsteps of pilgrims from centuries ago
  • Being immersed in the classic Tuscan countryside of vineyards and picturesque rolling hills
  • Visiting the charming UNESCO towns of San Gimignano and Siena
  • Staying in comfortable and welcoming hotels and charming B&Bs
  • Feasting on culinary delights and tasting superb Chianti wines
  • Exploring the round walls of Monteriggioni
  • Guided tour in Lucca
  • Wine and local food tasting in San Gimignano
  • Cheese tasting / lunch at a family-run farmhouse in the area of Coiano (near San Miniato)
  • Pilgrim lunch in the woods near Monteriggioni

Overview

Spectacular landscapes, fascinating Tuscan countryside full of vineyards, charming UNESCO towns and picturesque rolling hills are just some of the highlights on this section of the Via Francigena. Northern Tuscany has so much to be discovered, especially for those travelling on foot. Starting in Lucca, you can spend a day visiting its beautiful gardens and villas, or discovering some of the nearly one hundred churches that characterise this beautiful town. The first part of this walk takes you through the open and flat lands of the Val d'Elsa. You then enter the Tuscan Hills. The second half of the tour takes you back in time, exploring narrow streets and buildings of some of the most renowned medieval towns in Tuscany, including San Gimignano and Monteriggioni. As you reach Siena the landscape surrounding you is full of open, green rolling hills. Stay in comfortable, family-run accommodation where you can sample the delicious culinary delights of Tuscany.

Challenge Grade

MODERATE – GRADE 3

This is a moderate grade walk along paths that are well defined. The walking is mostly on paths and gravel roads (strade bianche), with some sections on asphalt road. The route is quite easy due to low differences in altitude on most days. Often the towns are on hilltops. You should be able to walk for up to 7 hours a day in hot sun (at times). The trail is well-marked with official signs of the Via Francigena. A good level of fitness is required.

As with all of our trips it is important that you are well prepared. We suggest that you undertake regular exercise – swimming, cycling, and jogging, two to three times a week for three months prior to your departure.

Note: the walking time and distance are calculated from city centre to city centre and may vary depending on the accommodations booked, to a maximum of 2km.

Itinerary

After all the preparation, your wait is finally over! On arrival in Lucca, make your way to the hotel. If you arrive early you can enjoy a stroll through the town, gardens and the impressive Piazza Anfiteatro, a 2nd century Roman amphitheatre, or climb the majestic bell tower. You can also walk along the tree-lined walls of its perimeter, which were built in the 16th century. Overnight Hotel Rex.

Meals:  Nil

This morning you will be met for a guided tour of the walled city of Lucca: we walk on the defensive walls, enjoying panoramic views on the old centre, lush gardens of noble mansions now converted to hostels, as locals jog and cycle all around. We then descend to the city centre and loose ourselves in the maze of narrow cobbled streets filled with artisanal workshops and steam-oven bakeries selling focaccia and the buccellato, the typical cake - recipes may vary and are usually passed down through generations and jealously treasured by each bakery. Our last stop is the Cathedral of San Martino, home to the famous Holy Face 'Volto Santo' of Lucca, a venerated wooden crucifix that may have been carved by Nicodemus. It features in the town's Holy Cross celebrations held in September. For lunch, we meet Guido, a young farmer who after graduating in agronomy decided to restore his father’s farm and dedicate himself to goat farming and cheese making. We dine on his raw milk cheeses and other products from the surrounding farms including wild boar meat, olives, tomatoes and honey-glazed ricotta. Later this afternoon you will take the train to San Miniato-Fucecchio (via Pisa or Empoli, takes approx 1.5-2 hours) where you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation in San Miniato Alto. Overnight Hotel San Miniato.

Meals:  B,L

Today we start walking, following a paved road across the spectacular countryside which is typical of the Val d'Elsa region. Following in the footsteps of Archbishop Sigeric, who walked between Rome and Canterbury in 990, you will pass two “Submansiones” (Sigeric’s “stopping places”), Pieve di Coiano and Pieve a Chianni. Continue to Gambassi Terme, where we overnight. Overnight Ostello Sigerico.

Meals:  B,D

The countryside between Gambassi and San Gimignano is classic perfection, like walking into a renaissance painting. The trail takes us through hills and vineyards, crossing the peculiar village of Collemuccioli, the Sanctuary of Pancole and the Pieve di Cellole surrounded by cypresses, where the local monks live immersed in a peaceful and meditative atmosphere. Our destination is San Gimignano: one of the most visited and famous cities along the Francigena. This medieval town is also known as the “Manhattan of Middle Age”. Today only 14 of the 72 towers remain standing - the biggest of them being the Torre Grossa, which we climb for a 360° view of the old town centre and the picture-perfect countryside we walked through. There is time to wander the busy but enchanting narrow streets and enjoy an award-winning ice cream before we head together to the Rocca. This castle perched at the top of the town, houses a historical winery dedicated to the local Vernaccia wine, the most appreciated white wine in a land dominated by reds. We enjoy a tasting of three Vernaccia varieties with some bruschette, pecorino cheese and a taste of the local “Finocchiona” - a local delicacy made with pork, red wine and fennel seeds. We spend the night in Piazza della Cisterna, one of the main squares of the city. Overnight Hotel La Cisterna.

Meals:  B

Today the Via Francigena takes us through the undulating Tuscan hills. It’s a picturesque walk crossing vineyards, olive groves, fields and woods as we head towards Gracciano. Along the way we can make a detour to discover the fascinating Abbey of Santa Maria a Conero, dating from the 11th century. Continue to our hotel in Colle Val d'Elsa. Overnight Hotel Il Pietreto.

Meals:  B,D

Today we cross Pieve a Elsa, which was once a large, ancient parish frequented by pilgrims. We can also visit the ancient Etruscan Thermae (hot pools) of Caldane. Later in the day we reach Strove and its beautiful Romanesque Church. From here we'll continue via the medieval village of Abbadia a Isola before reaching Monteriggioni, whose famed crown of towers we see as we approach. Once we’ve checked into the hotel in Monteriggioni we can spend the afternoon exploring this fascinating town. Overnight Agriturismo Borgo Gallinaio.

Meals:  B,D

Leaving Monteriggioni's crown of towers behind, we continue on terracotta coloured dirt roads (appropriately named "terra di Siena") along the Montagnola Senese, the main hilly area of the district. As we enter the forest, old castles and the remains of a medieval village appear. One of these castles, Marcello, welcomes pilgrims, walkers, and friends and will serve us a special lunch in the middle of the forest. After lunch we continue our walk through the forest to the Castle of Chiocciola and ascend to Poggio di Riciano. From here we start our descent, walking along the river of Pian del Lago. The Renai forest will give way to the beautiful medieval city of Siena, which we'll enter via the Porta Camollia. The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo is the setting of the Palio and one of the most beautiful and photogenic squares in the region. When not filled with horses and jockeys, it is a place for locals and tourists enjoying the sun. Here we have a special aperitivo to celebrate our trip together – and later, probably a good plate of “pici” - the local pasta, thick spaghetti usually seasoned with a garlic and tomato sauce, or pepper and “cacio” cheese. Overnight Hotel Chiusarelli.

Meals:  B,L

Trip concludes in Siena this morning, after breakfast. Please ask for our rates if you want to stay an extra night, or you can continue along the Francigena Way into southern Tuscany to Acquapendente.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 7 breakfasts, 3 dinners, 2 lunches: Breakfasts are usually continental inclusive of breads, tea, coffee & juices. Dinner will consist of 3 courses, usually starting with a salad or pasta dish, followed by either a chicken, red meat or fish dish with seasonal vegetables & finishing with a dessert of fruit or cakes.
  • 7 nights in 3 star hotels and agriturismo / B&B's on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities (hotel taxes extra, payable locally - allow €10-15)
  • Information pack including smartphone app with maps plus a route book per room booked
  • Luggage transfers on days 3 to 7 (max 1 piece per person)
  • Transfer from San Miniato Basso train station to your hotel in San Miniato Alto
  • Wine and local food tasting in San Gimignano
  • Cheese tasting / lunch at a family-run farmhouse in Coiano
  • 1 pilgrim lunch in the woods near Monteriggioni
  • Credenziale - pilgrim's passport
  • Emergency hotline and SMS alert

What's Not Included

  • Travel to Lucca and from Siena
  • Meals not included in itinerary. Allow EUR15-20 for each dinner and EUR5 for a picnic lunch.
  • Items of a personal nature including drinks, souvenirs, phone calls, internet and laundry etc.
  • Entrance fees (museums, galleries etc.)
  • Guide - this is a self guided tour
  • Travel insurance
  • Train ticket day 2 from Lucca to Fucecchio (allow approximately EUR8)
  • Tourist Tax - allow approximately EUR2 per day - payable directly to the hotel

What You Carry

  • Wet weather gear, sunscreen, good walking boots / shoes and sun hat - walking poles optional but recommended. (A comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).

Fundraising Impact

Helping local families beat blood cancer

Each year, the Leukaemia Foundation helps more than 750 families from regional and rural Australia by providing free accommodation in our capital cities so they can access life-saving treatment at major hospitals.

Our transport service also helps thousands get to and from medical appointments, driving more than one million kilometres each year to ensure people get the medicines they need to beat their blood cancer. Thanks to its supporters, the Leukaemia Foundation is also able to provide counselling, comprehensive information, education and support programs and financial assistance to help the 60,000 Australians who are currently living with a blood cancer.

We are committed to supporting initiatives and research that improve health outcomes for blood cancer patients, including improved access to new drugs that may be more effective than those currently available.

Travel Dates

Videos

Walking Lucca to Siena | Italy's Via Francigena | UTracks

Fast Facts

Trip Dates: DepartReturn
 19 Sep 202126 Sep 2021
Duration:8 Days
Activities:SELF GUIDED WALK
Grade:moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:SOG6546