Cycling along the Via Francigena
Pisa-Lucca-San Miniato-San Gimignano-Col Val d’Elsa-Siena
This bike tour starts in Pisa, with its lean tower and baptistery located in the magnificent worldwide famous Piazza dei Miracoli and ends in Siena, the city of the Palio. This is a particular journey full of emotions, cultural and spiritual at the same time, as you will cycle from Lucca to Siena, the heart of the Via Francigena. The Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage route that pilgrims used to walk up to the holy city of Rome: they came from France (hence the name Francigena) or from Northern Europe.
During this bike tour, you will have the opportunity to admire famous art cities such as Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, and Siena: you will cross the Val d’Elsa and, at the same time, retrace the steps of the ancient pilgrims who faithfully proceeded along this itinerary. In Siena, you stay two nights so you can dedicate yourself to the Gothic Duomo, the Palazzo Publico with the Torre del Mangia, and take some time on one of the most famous squares in the world, the Piazza del Campo, where every year the Palio takes place.
From Siena, you will make a ring tour to Monteroni d’Arbia. This tour will be pleasant, with not too heavy bike rides, which will allow you to have more time to visit and appreciate the monuments along the route, the typical Tuscan landscape and last but not least enjoy the Tuscan food and wine specialties.
The daily program of the 7-day tour
The start of this cycle tour is in Pisa, part of the Unesco World Heritage since 1987, Pisa is one of the most important university and cultural centre in Italy. It is famous all over the world for its square of miracles with the famous Leaning Tower and the magnificent baptistery.
Today you will cycle around the Pisan countryside, you will reach the Serchio river and finally Lucca. Today’s route can be lengthened by taking an alternative route, skirting Lake Massaciuccoli (slightly undulating and sometimes unpaved route) and crossing the Chiarone Nature Reserve.
You will then arrive in Lucca with its medieval historic centre with fine architecture, with ancient and numerous churches (Lucca is also called the city of 100 churches), many towers, bell towers and monumental Renaissance palaces.
Distance: 30 km / 16 mi or 45 km /24 mi
Ascent/Descent: + 20m – 300m
Starting from Piazza Anfiteatro in the heart of Lucca, your journey along the core of the Via Francigena begins. Along the way, you will pass the ancient Abbey of Pozzeveri, standing south of River Serchio, in a stretch that was notoriously challenging, because it was characterized by a dense forest and marshy terrain.
The last part of today’s itinerary, until reaching San Miniato, follows the ancient pilgrim route and therefore you will have to cycle or walk uphill for a short stretch. San Miniato is built on a hilltop in a strategic position. The town is famous for its white truffle.
Distance: 45 km /24 mi
Ascent/Descent: + 220m – 220m
Today you will continue pedaling along the valley and the banks of the Elsa River. The first stretch up to Gambassi Terme is very challenging, but this place is since ancient times ideal for a relaxing bath in the healing waters of its SPA. From Gambassi Terme to Certaldo you will have a long and well-deserved descent. Then finally the last climb up to today’s final destination. and finally a climb up to today’s final destination Colle Val d’Elsa. You will pass castles and fortresses that in ancient times guaranteed a safe passage for pilgrims on the Via Francigena. Shortly before arriving in Colle Val d’Elsa, you will see the medieval village of San Gimignano from afar, with its skyline characterized by beautiful and evocative towers.
Distance: 25 km / 13,5 mi or 60 km /32 mi
Ascent/Descent: + 480m – 940m
Today’s stage is short and easy. You start from Colle Val D’Elsa and head to Montagnola Senese where there is the famous village of Monteriggioni, which in ancient times defended the republic of Siena. Then reach Siena, the city of the Palio with its marvellous Piazza del Campo. The short ride gives you the opportunity to have time to visit Siena.
Today, some parts are not paved and there are some short climbs between Colle di Val d’Elsa and Monteriggioni. For some very short stretches, you have to cycle along the busy SR2 Via Cassia Nord road.
Distance: 30 km / 16 mi
Ascent/Descent: + 380m – 380m
Today you can dedicate to visit Siena or you can cycle to Monteroni d’Arbia. The Via Francigena continues southwards, still following the ancient Via Cassia, which in ancient times connected Florence to Rome. Today the route crosses the beautiful landscape of the Crete Senesi, one of the most famous in Italy, dotted with rows of cypresses and small farms: the route is undulating, with several ups and downs. If you want, you can avoid this last part with a train and bus transfer from Monteroni d’Arbia to Siena. Monteroni d’Arbia is a small town with a nice medieval centre located on the right bank of the Arbia stream.
Distance: 20 km / 11 mi or 45 km /24 mi
Ascent/Descent: + 100m – 500m
After breakfast ends your tour along the ancient pilgrimage route.
The itinerary is of medium difficulty and follows, wherever possible, the ancient pilgrimage route of the Via Francigena. The daily kilometres are not too long and also the differences of level not too much. However some cycle experience is needed. The route follows mostly quiet asphalted and dirt roads. The first stages are mostly flat, but from San Miniato to Siena the landscape becomes hilly. You cycle here through an undulating landscape with descents and climbs of a medium difficulty. Between day 2 and 3 there is a short transfer by train. There is the possibility to shorten the itinerary by taking the train on days 2, 3, 4 and 6.
Average daily distances:
between 20 km /11 mi and 60 km / 32 mi
minimum 150 km/ 81 mi and maximum 225 km / 121,5 miles
Every Saturday from 27th March to 9th October 2021. Other days of departure available upon request for minimum 5 people
2 or more people (solo traveller on request).
START / FINISH:
Pisa / Siena