Lucca was already an important city at the time of Sigeric as it was the seat of the Duchy. Within the walled city of Lucca, the traveler today can visit many different kinds of museums and churches, particularly the Cathedral where there is a highly venerated crucifix said to show the real face of Christ.
We’ll have an easy and quite flat start, to Altopascio, village famous for its bread, continuing on, we’ll cross the wild area of Cerbaie and meet some stretches of the ancient way, preserved as it was originally; San Miniato is located in the lower Arno valley, on the south-eastern hills dominating the river plains, halfway between Pisa and Florence. The medieval village of San Miniato is in the center of Tuscany and it preserves a historic center set on the hill top with the Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Tower Fortress dominating all the surrounding Arno, Era, and Egola valleys.
A rolling ride that will bring us to Gambassi Terme, where we can take a break at the local spas.
Siena is the emblem city of the Via Francigena, to which it owes its wealth and prosperity. You will experience a walk through the middle ages as you visit the ancient hospital of Santa Maria della Scala with its frescoed ‘pilgrims’ hall’.
Siena’s unique profile will follow you for several miles, while you ride on the easy paths of the Val d’Arbia. The Via Cassia climbs to the spectacular Quirico d’Orcia, sitting high on a hill with commanding views of the surrounding scenery. At dawn the Tuscan sun shines onto the breathtaking landscapes of the Val d’Orcia, with its rolling hills of yellow wheat or plowed field. We’ll end our day by the square basin of Bagno Vignoni, a thermal spring whose water was a cure-all for medieval pilgrims.
This is the hardest day of the trip, with over 1,200 meters of elevation gain. We’ll leave the Val d’Orcia and reach Radicofani, in the lands of Ghino di Tacco, who was a famous outlaw that ruled the mountains at the border between Tuscany and Lazio. Fortunately for us, we’re more likely to meet local shepherds with their sheep dogs, watching the flock that produce the precious “pecorino” cheese. The descent to Bolsena is long and fun, but requires focus to ride with care.
The way to Viterbo unfolds in northern Lazio, the area was developed before the Romans by the Etruscan; here we’ll ride by ancient tumuli (burial sites) and using the “vie cave”, roads cut in the soft stones, with a very modern concept; our destination, Viterbo is very pretty city, full of history, where architectural styles melt in an intriguing blend.
Today we’ll go by Sutri, Etruscan site who’s amphitheater, fully carved from a soft stone hill, is testimonial of a rich and educated civilization. From there we’ll go to the village of Campagnano, the Monte Gelato waterfalls, and the lovely fresh valley of Rio Sorbo. Formello, our final destination is a lovely medieval village.
Il Vaticano e Roma
We will not hurry now that your goal is so near. We’ll cool off in the shady forests in the Veio park, where you’ll find it hard to believe that Rome is so close. Soon the silent Roman countryside must soon give way to the streets and palaces of the city. The emotions of the last day, the last short stage, will stay with you forever as you arrive in the Eternal City and are surrounded by the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica and Bernini’s colonnade embracing you in the last few pedal strokes.
We say “arrivederci” at 9am today.