The Ultimate Walking Tour In Tuscany
My return to Florence after 20 years allowed me to visit once again one of the most beautiful cities In Italy.
But it was only a prelude to the main event: a week-long tour of Tuscany along the Via Francigena.
The Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage route that runs from Canterbury, England, through France, Switzerland and Italy. The Journey ends in Rome.
In Tuscany is the 400 km long Via Francigena, which offers visitors the opportunity to discover the landscape like pilgrims for more than 1000 years.
My week on the Via Francigena was organized by Sana Travels in collaboration with Tuscany Tourism and The Adventure Travel Trade Association as part of my participation in the Adventure Travel World Summit 2018 in Montecatini Terme.
Our Guides included the wonderful Ottavia from s Cape Travels Italy and the expert Roberta Ferraris, author of the official Via Francigena guide.
As you will see, the route they created for us included time spent on the Via Francigena in northern, central and southern Tuscany.
Since it would have been too far away in just six days, we relied on Npv transfers to fill the gaps.
Day 1-Arrival in Montecatini Terme
Our tour started in Montecatini Terme, an eighteenth-century spa resort located in central Tuscany, just over an hour by train west of Florence.
The day of arrival would be the easiest of the trip, as we come from the Tuscany Inn hotel to the train station to the 19th century funicular.
The original city was located on a hill, which made sense in the Middle Ages, because it was easier to defend.
We had the first of many delicious meals highlighting regional Tuscan cuisine at Ristorante La Torre.
Classes included Bruschetta (tomatoes, basil and olive oil on bread), vegetable soup, Tuscan peasant cuisine (prepared by mixing pieces of bread with tomatoes to achieve a pasty consistency) and various cheeses and ice cream.
There was a lot of red and white plonk, as if the norm for us all subsequent lunches and dinners.
Day 2-Lunigiana to Pontremoli
The next day we got up early for breakfast and a Van transfer to Cavezzana d’Antena in northern Tuscany, near the border between Emilia Romagna.
Shortly before 11 am local time, we followed the well-marked Via Francigena Road through the olive groves, the dirt road that embraced the slope.
Our guide informed us that northern Tuscany is less visited than the South, and I could understand why.
We were immersed in the forest for most of the day and did not walk among the sweet vines so often associated with this region of Italy.
However, the trail and landscape were the most varied that day, which we only enjoyed at the end of the tour.
In an instant, I take a picture of Roberta in a green forest, and no more than ten minutes after we pass through multi-colored autumn leaves, chestnuts creak under our feet.
It was also our most bodily active day. There were a handful of short but steep slopes, and I blew and inflated them all.
With my Fitbit Versa, I tracked our daily hikes in addition to the total distance.
On the second day, we covered 15.4 km (9.58 Miles) over five hours and twenty-two minutes (including an hour’s lunch break) on the way.
It was 21,000 Steps, or about three to four times my average daily number of steps at home.
We were all grateful when we arrived at the place for our picnic overlooking the valley.
Ottavia and Roberta went to work cutting bread and unpacking all the food we had brought, including lots of cheese, ham, olives, grapes and tomatoes.
After an hour of cooling and resting our feet in the sun, we packed our bags for the final descent to the medieval town of Pontremoli.
Pontremoli means in Italian “Tremblant Bridge”, a name that comes from a bridge that once crossed the Magra River that runs through the city.
The most spectacular entrance to the city is the Porto Parma, through which we walked on the way to the 1000-year-old castle of Piagnaro.Tags: Tuscany, Via Francigena, Walking Tour