Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Via Francigena: San Miniato to San Quirico
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Highlights

  • Following an ancient pilgrimage route through rolling Tuscan landscapes
  • Quintessential Tuscany: San Miniato, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Siena & San Quirico
  • Relaxing with a glass of full-bodied Chianti in the Piazza del Campo, Siena
  • The 13 towers of San Gimignano, the 'Manhattan of Tuscany'
  • The imposing and fortified masterpiece of Grancia di Cuna, which provided hospitality to pilgrims

Explore the central belt of iconic Tuscan landscapes and a distinctive trio of medieval towns; Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni. This stage of the Via Francigena takes you from the charming village of San Miniato to San Quirico situated on the northern edge of the Valley d’Orcia.

This journey encompasses all the highlights of central Tuscany and offers fascinating insights into the many towns and villages that you pass through with their wealth of history, culture, art and architecture.

Beginning in the medieval village of San Miniato you walk through Chianti vineyards and then make your way to Gambassi, known for its production of glass and to San Gimignano, the “Manhattan of Tuscany”. The famed towers were built in the 12th century. San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Monteriggioni is your next destination, enclosed by medieval walls which are still intact. Siena is unquestionably one of the highlights of this stage of the Via Francigena, with its medieval buildings and the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. Twice a year around the piazza the famous Palio horse race is run with the same pomp and ceremony as in medieval times. Your walking tour finishes in the quintessentially Tuscan hill-top town of San Quirico d’Orcia.

DAY 1: Arrive in San Miniato

Arrive in San Miniato, a medieval village set atop three small hills at the very centre of Tuscany.  It is in a strategic location, at the intersection of the Florence-Pisa and Lucca-Siena roads, hence its historical importance. During the Middle Ages there was a constant flow of both friendly and hostile armies, traders and travellers from near and far. Spend time here viewing the historic centre and perhaps have dinner in a restaurant with an outside terrace while you soak in views of the surrounding valleys of Arno, Era and Egola.


Overnight: Hotel Miravalle, San Miniato


DAY 2: San Miniato to Gambassi Terme

Today walk through stunning Tuscan landscapes and oak woods, which then give way to vineyards. Famous for its fine red chianti wines, such as tempranillo and sangiovese, if you are traveling in the spring and summer the vines will be in full bloom and if travelling in the autumn they will be deep reds and browns.


Combining almost perfect weather and soils that produce these world renowned wines, there is evidence to show that the Etruscans cultivated and even experimented with vines here. Along the route you can visit inside two interesting churches, Pieve di Coiano and Santa Maria a Chianni, the latter situated on the side of a valley and the former positioned close to Gambassi with a beautiful façade.


Arrive in Gambassi Terme, located on a hill 350m above sea level. The town which has been known for its production of glass since medieval times.


Walk: 24km


Overnight: Villa Certosa***, Gambassi Terme


DAY 3: Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano

Today’s walk is relatively short as this gives you time to explore San Gimignano this afternoon. Once again you will be walking through the gorgeous Chianti vineyards. Heading down the trail you initially pass by Riparotta and a bridge over the Rio Casciani. The trail undulates over a series of small hills and along a stretch called the Siene Val d’Elsa. Here you see the ruins of an old castle and the isolated Church of Santo Pietro which was mentioned in in 1109 as a place of worship by pilgrims.


Enjoy your first panorama of San Gimignano’s famed towers, built by wealthy local families to demonstrate their power in the 12th century. At one time there were 72 towers, but only 13 remain. Spend time this afternoon discovering this town, one of the most famous in Tuscany. Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Gimignano still retains its medieval atmosphere and it is a pleasure to wander through the narrow streets and soak up the ambience.


Walk: 13.5km


Overnight: Il Pino B&B, San Gimignano


DAY 4: San Gimignano to Monteriggioni

Your walking today is along trails that are some of the most beautiful along the Via Francigena. First set off in the direction of Campiglia, a small hamlet surrounded by the characterful Tuscan countryside and continue onto Badia a Coneo, a gracious and remote church. Also pass through Abbey Island, a complex of mysterious medieval buildings. In the 11th century this island was surrounded by marshes, hence the fact that it is called an island.


You are now within sight of Monteriggioni, a village still completely surrounded by walls that are virtually intact. It will be a peaceful evening spent here as there is virtually no traffic.


Walk: 29km


Overnight: B&B La Porta Segreta, Monteriggioni


DAY 5: Monteriggioni to Siena

Once more this is a relatively short walking day which enables you to spend time exploring Siena this afternoon. Leaving behind the old town of Monteriggioni, walk along trails that take you to Montagnola and Cerbaia, a medieval village now in a neglected state. Walk through woods to the castles of the Chiocciola and Villa before arriving at Porta Camollia, the traditional access road on the Via Francigena into Siena.


Siena is a town well-known for its Palio horse race which occurs twice a year, its medieval buildings and the wonderful Piazza del Campo. Sit in an outdoor café within the piazza whilst viewing the medieval houses and buildings, particularly the Palazzo Publico and the Torre del Mangia, both architectural treasures.


Walk: 17km


Overnight: Hotel Chiusarelli***, Siena


DAY 6: Siena to Grancia de Cuna, transfer to Buonconvento

Depart from Siena along the official Via Francigena road, the Porta Romana. The trail meanders through serene farmland, rolling hills and small hamlets criss-crossing the Via Cassia all the way. En route is the imposing medieval building, the Grancia di Cuna that served as a protected storage for food supplies in the Middle Ages and which offered hospitality to pilgrims and travellers.


Transfer from Grancia de Cuna to Buonconvento (this shortens the walk from 32km to a more manageable 18km). 


Walk: 18km


Overnight: Hotel Ghibellino***, Buonconvento


DAY 7: Buonconvento to San Quirico d’Orcia

En route to San Quirico d’Orcia you pass through Brunello vineyards there will the opportunity to visit a nice winery at Torrenieri. Cross the railway line and carry on through wineries and iconic landscapes to San Quirico, a delightful walled town. You have just completed this section of the Via Francigena and perhaps you would like to reward yourself with a glass of delicious Chianti in the medieval town square.


Walk: 23.5km


Overnight: Antica Sosta B&B, San Quirico


DAY 8: Onward travel

Today the tour finishes after breakfast and you may make your way independently to Rome for your return journey home.


Accommodation

On this trip you will stay in a variety of accommodations. The properties range from B&B’s to 3* hotels and agriturismo (lovely farmhouse accommodation). At times you will be staying in remote towns and villages, therefore the accommodation in these places are the best that these particular areas have to offer.


Alternative accommodation

During the high season you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed on the tour webspage. If those listed are unavailable the alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Solo walkers are also welcome and again a supplement is payable.


Meals

Daily breakfasts at your hotels and B&B’s are included. Breakfasts are usually continental or Italian-style with a choice of breads, croissants, meats and cheeses. Sometimes it is possible to order packed lunches at your hotel or B&B the evening before or you can buy lunch in grocery’s, cafes and restaurants en route. You can opt to include 5 dinners if you wish.


Baggage Transfer

Baggage transfers are not included, however you can pay an additional fee for this service. If you choose to include baggage transfers we request that you have only one piece of luggage per person and it should weigh only 20kg.

Availability

This trip is available from mid-March to the end of October. You can start on any date in the season.


Time of Year

Spring in Italy is sublime and April, May and June are absolutely lovely. Autumn is a great time of year as the landscape is made up of a gold and red pallet so September and October are unmissable. July and August can be very hot so you will have to start early to miss the heat of the day and then perhaps have a long lunch and finish walking in the mid to late afternoon


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Solo walkers are also welcome and again a supplement is payable.


Grade & Terrain

This walking holiday is graded moderate. However the daily distances vary quite a lot between 13.5 and 29km, so you must be capable of also walking the longer distances. You need to be in good physical shape to complete this section of the Via Francigena as there are also some elevation gains and losses along the way - you'll be walking through hilly Tuscany.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

You will also be provided with detailed route notes and maps to help you find your way. As always when walking you should be able to read a map and use a compass in case of bad weather. The trail is also marked by the official red and white signs of the Via Francigena, which have a picture of a yellow pilgrim on them. However these waymarks will not appear all along the way but intermittently.


Unlike many of the more well-established Caminos, the Via Francigena has seen a relatively recent resurgence in popularity, meaning that trail marking is intermittent (not every region has invested in consistently waymarking the trail), and you should be confident in navigating with a compass and map, as well as using the route notes that we will provide you with.  A few  of the original sections of the Via Francigena are now (fairly busy) roads, and where necessary you may either follow these roads for a short time, or divert away from the traditional route to enjoy a more relaxed walk. 


Baggage Transfers

Baggage transfers are not included as standard, however you can pay an additional fee for this service. If you choose to include baggage transfers we request that you have only one piece of luggage per person and it should weigh only 20kg.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


Getting to San Miniato

San Miniato has a railway station and is on the Florence/Pisa line. Therefore you could fly into either  Florence or Pisa and then take a train to San Miniato (50 minutes from either airport). Please check the Trenitalia website for more information on fares and schedules.


Getting from San Quirico

Since San Quirico d’Orcia is equidistant between Pisa/Florence and Rome you can either fly into Rome or Pisa/Florence. If you are flying from Rome Fiumicino Airport you can take a taxi from San Quirico d’Orcia to Chiusi and then take a train (via central Rome) to Rome Fiumicino Airport. However the taxi will cost around €50 so the alternative is to fly from Florence or Pisa, taking a bus from San Quirico d’Orcia to Buonconvento and then a train. (Please note: the buses do not run very regularly and you may have to wait).

Getting to San Miniato

San Miniato has a railway station and is on the Florence/Pisa line. Therefore you could fly into either  Florence or Pisa and then take a train to San Miniato (50 minutes from either airport). Please check the Trenitalia website for more information on fares and schedules.


Getting from San Quirico

Since San Quirico d’Orcia is equidistant between Pisa/Florence and Rome you can either fly into Rome or Pisa/Florence. If you are flying from Rome Fiumicino Airport you can take a taxi from San Quirico d’Orcia to Chiusi and then take a train (via central Rome) to Rome Fiumicino Airport. However the taxi will cost around €50 so the alternative is to fly from Florence or Pisa, taking a bus from San Quirico d’Orcia to Buonconvento and then a train. (Please note: the buses do not run very regularly and you may have to wait).

Included

  • 7 Nights in 3* hotels or B&B’s
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Transfer from Grancia to Buonconvento
  • Detailed maps and routes notes and a comprehensive information pack.
  • Organisational assistance and backup from our area manager in Italy and our office

Excluded

  • Travel to San Miniato
  • Travel from San Quirico d'Orcia
  • Lunches & dinners
  • Drinks & snacks
  • Baggage transfers
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Mountain rescue / emergency assistance

Extras

  • Additional nights before, after or during the trip
  • 5 Dinners
  • Baggage transfers
  • Single room supplement if single room required.
  • Solo traveller supplement (if applicable)

How fit do I need to be?

This walking holiday is graded moderate. However the daily distances vary quite a lot between 13.5 and 29km, so you must be capable of also walking the longer distances. You need to be in good physical shape to complete this section of the Via Francigena as there are also some elevation gains and losses along the way.  Tuscany is hilly!

When is the best time of year?

Spring in Italy is sublime and April, May and June are absolutely lovely. Autumn is a great time of year as the landscape is made up of a gold and red pallet so September and October are unmissable. July and August can be very hot so you will have to start early to miss the heat of the day and then perhaps have a long lunch and finish walking in the mid to late afternoon.

How far in advance do I need to book?

The Via Francigena is very popluar and therefore it is better to book earlier rather than later to ensure bookings at the hotels and B&B's.

What personal equipment do I need?

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.

Which is the best airport?

San Miniato has a railway station and is on the Florence/Pisa line. Therefore you could fly into either  Florence or Pisa and then take a train to San Miniato (50 minutes from either airport). Please check the Trenitalia website for more information on fares and schedules..

How do the baggage transfers work?

Baggage transfers are not included as standard, however you can pay an additional fee for this service. If you choose to include baggage transfers we request that you have only one piece of luggage per person and it should weigh only 20kg.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.

great vacation, some minor flaws

4

Overall, the trip was wonderful. We saw multiple small towns that were beautiful and historically interesting, and a wide variety of scenery. It was strenuous but didn't push us past our limit. But there were some flaws in the directions. They made reference to some things that definitely weren't there (a stop sign, buildings) and did not always note important things that were there (an important turn). Also, the company slightly changed our itinerary without telling us, having us stay in a different town; the change was ok, but we might have made plans for the other town. We should have been alerted. The maps we were furnished were not as detailed as the ones we got on previous trips with Macs Adventures.(They appeared to outsource this to an Italian company)

Walking Sue

OH

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Late September Hike

5

This was my first Mac's trip. My comments are intended for North Americans that are likely used to more rugged and self-supporting backcountry adventures. 1. Hiking is easy , though they are long days with 8:00 am the earliest start if you have breakfast at hotel. Dinner in Italy is not until 7:30pm, so I found it best to take my time and not arrive at next destination until 5pm. I filled-in time by sketching en route. 2. I pre-arranged for dinners at hotels. I would not do this again as there are lots of restaurants in all the towns. 3. There is a gps app with the route for your phone that many were using. I just used notes & maps provided and only had one time where I had to use compass to find correct route. 4. A pleasant surprise was the signs in english on route explaining history, geology and agriculture. 5. Trail goes through a variety of soil surfaces. It was dry and hot when I did it (last week Sept) and I was able to walk in sports sandals. However, there is clay in sections that if wet would be very sticky and also very slippery on downhills, best navigated with boots and a pole. 6. Water is fairly scarce, but taps en route are obvious. 7. I started my trip mid-week and I wonder if that may be a quieter time as you will avoid people on a 1 week vacation from Europe who start on a Sunday or Monday. I usually saw about 12 hikers a day with 3 to 4 staying at the same hotels. 8. For me, the trip met all expectations as the Tuscany landscape, small town ambiance, history, and local lifestyle were soaked-in while enjoying a full day of exercise.

Dave

Calgary

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Marvellous

4

Loved the walk , Tuscan hills and towns , poppies ,grapevines ,olive groves, not crowded Mostly rural between towns Accommodation mostly very good Great food and wine Route markings sometimes missing and alternative suggestions difficult to follow Recommend official Via Francigina app with GPS map

yodavid

Vancouver Canada

true

The best of Tuscany

5

Last year, my husband and I did almost the entire Via Francigena with Macs. Friends wanted to go to Tuscany this year, and so we decided this section, which we found the best on the via, would be the one to do (again, for us....but that was fine!). Just as last year, we loved it. It was well organized, all our luggage got where it needed to, directions were good (for the most part) The walk is through beautiful Tuscan countryside. rolling hills (some pretty long climbs, but no steep climbs), tall cypress trees, vineyards heavy with grapes, blue skies, delicious wine and food, all make for a wonderful experience. Some of the days are quite long, but there are ways to shorten them, if you wish, by either contacting Via del Sol (Macs partner in Italy)....Niccolo especially is very helpful....and getting them to pick you up at the 20 km mark (vs. walking 37 km!!). In terms of accommodations....Gambassi Therme is run by a very helpful, passionate woman who makes your stay wonderful, and the accommodations are great. Also, shout out to the graciousness of the host, and amazing breakfast at San Quirico (she has all sorts of healthy food, but about 10 different 'cakes' for your breakfast meal). All in all, a wonderful experience.

alex

canada

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fantastic pilgrimage

5

This was one of our favourite sections of the 3/4 of the via francigena that we walked. The scenery here is absolutely beautiful, the towns are lovely, the food amazing. We took extra day in San Gimignano (worth it) and Monteriggioni (lovely accommodations, but not much to do in town). The breakfast in San Quirico d'Orcia was the best of the 5 weeks of walking. This was a fantastic part of the via francigena and I would recommend this to anyone. It is true, as stated in another review, that as long as you are following the via francigena signs, all goes well. However, sometimes they take you off route (not always sure why they do that) and then the directions are not so good (often poor translation). Nevertheless, this really was a wonderful trip

alex

canada

true

Great vacation!

5

Just returned from our walk through Tuscany and can't talk enough about how much we enjoyed ourselves. The advantage of walking besides seeing so many places we wouldn't if we were driving is that we enjoyed pasta and a bottle of wine every night and I lost 1 pound on the trip. How many people can say that after a trip to Italy?

Tom and Eileen the slow travellers

Seattle, WA

true

Enjoyable, well planned walk

5

I have nothing negative to say about Macs Adventures. The route notes were comprehensive and for the most part easy to follow. The accommodation was above expectation. There was good communication at all times. When everything goes well it's easy to have a good experience but the true test of the integrity of a company is when there are hiccups. We had two....one was our fault and the other a slight miscommunication. A phone call to the local rep had this sorted quickly and efficiently. The walk was lovely. To beat the heat we started at daybreak and the beauty of the landscape at this time of morning was something. I highly recommend this company and this walk.

Julie

Qld Australia

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Beautiful walk

5

The Via Francigena was very well marked and easier to keep to than the walk notes. It was fun to meet up with the proper pilgrims (some had walked from Berlin). Had a day in Pisa and another in Florence on the way back so culture too.

Fiona

Chagford

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Barely discovered jewel of a camino!

4

I just hiked the beautiful Via Francigena in Italy, from San Miniato, near Florence, to Rome, encompassing 18 hiking days. Some perspective: I'm a Camino addict and a veteran of routes in Spain, France and Portugal, most arranged with MacsAdventure. I have mostly good things to say about the trip: the scenery, especially the hills of Tuscany, was outstanding and I can easily say that it was consistently even prettier than the other lovely Caminos I've walked. Similarly, there are beautiful ancient churches and medieval towns throughout the trek. Also important, the signposting is excellent and frequent, just as good as the Camino Frances. The level of difficulty was about the same. You've probably read elsewhere that there are very few fellow hikers on the Via Francigena, and that held true for me. At peak, I was with about a half dozen other walkers during a given day, yet I also went more than a week without seeing any. Regarding the services of MacsAdventure and their local partner, ViadelSole, I can say that the accommodations were fine, and quite diverse considering some of the small towns, and that my bag always arrived on time. The local ViadelSole people were very helpful and spoke good English. There was one significant negative in the design of their itinerary: 4 of my 18 days were not on the Via Francigena. I'm not just talking about hotel locations, but the actual all-day walking routes. This was frustrating because you lose your sense of Camino continuity, your momentum and the company of people you've met. Also, the easy navigation of the well-marked Via Francigena is replaced by having to have your eyes glued to tedious (albeit accurate) route notes. If this strategy was based on a lack of suitable accommodation along the route, the better solution would be to provide shuttle service, which MacsAdventure does on other Caminos when the problem presents itself. To keep things in perspective, I want to say that I nonetheless enjoyed myself so much that I'm planning to do a long northern leg of the Via Francigena with MacsAdventure in the next year or two. I predict the Via Francigena, which has as much, if not more, to offer than the Camino de Santiago, will become a very well-traveled route as people become veterans of the other routes and seek further adventures. The Francigena, which started as early as the 7th century, is actually several hundred years older than the Camino de Santiago...

NYCTrekker

New York, NY

true

Loved It

4

This is my second booking through Mac. Other was full Camino de Santiago. Both trips have combined moderately challenging hiking with the study of history, art, and architecture. In general, this trip was great. I suspect the organizational hitches were due to the newness of the Via Franchigena hikes and the fact that our trip was organized earlier in the year than normal. The written materials were not a polished as the Camino materials and were not adequately reviewed. The two B&B telephone numbers I tried were not correct. Two references to one daily hike distance were contradictory in two places in the materials. One B&B did not have in-room bathroom which I understood was part of a normal booking. (I hasten to add that the owner of this B&B made us a heavenly salmon and tomato sandwich on bread she baked the morning we left). Please think of my modest criticism as coming from a happy customer/partner who wants Mac and its travel partners to flourish. I will use Mac again.

Pilgrim Doug

Columbus, OH, USA

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Via Francigena: Stage 6: San Miniato - San Quirico

4.6 10

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