Walking the Via Francigena in Tuscany
The San Miniato-Gambassi stretch of the Via Francigena
If your holiday includes the path of the Via Francigena we can recommend the stretch near our camping San Miniato-Gambassi which is about 24 km long. For trekking experts this is equivalent to 6 hours of walking. This stretch is perhaps the most demanding, its main difficulty is probably due to the lack of refreshment points.
Everything changes however if you decide to stay in the various stops along the Via Francigena, then the stretch will be 34 km, usually walkable in 3 days, making it feel more like a true hiking holiday in Tuscany.
Whatever your choice, the path will be magical because you will cross the hills of Val d’Elsa, which offers beautiful views of the territory and at the end of the journey you can relax in the thermal waters of Gambassi.
Read on to learn more about the possible stops of the Via Francigena. All that remains is to wish you a good read and a happy walk!
What to do in San Miniato when walking the Via Francigena in Tuscany
In the medieval town of San Miniato you can visit La Rocca, a tower that in the past used to control the movement of pisan and florentine enemies who, in the 13th century, animated battles for the supremacy of the city. San Miniato was the perfect place to control enemies given the strategic geographical position for the commercial exchanges of the city of the era. During the Second World War the fortress was destroyed, but the tower was rebuilt after the war. Also the Cathedral of San Miniato, built in the 12th century, is a beautiful sight. You can also stop in Chianni and visit the 13th century church of Santa Maria Assunta.
Absolutely not to be excluded are the food and wine tours that include typical tuscan product if you stop in this historical hill town. One product you definitely have to taste when in San Miniato however is the traditional white truffle. A precious gift of nature that’s typical of the area, harvested to be savored. Thanks to its versatility it can be used in first courses or in bruschette to refine the taste of typical recipes. In autumn, during the last three weeks of November, it is possible to go to the Sagra del Tartufo Bianco, an event dedicated to the white truffle.
For travelers who will walk the Via Francigena in Tuscany during summer we recommend la Notte Nera, in June, a tour for a total immersion in the taste of black truffle. There are also other alternative days to savor this particular tuberous mushrooms.
Castelfiorentino: a city full of religious tradition and art
Another wonderful stop in Tuscany when walking the Via Francigena is Castelfiorentino. This town is not as well known as other medieval villages and is therefore a nice option if you want to avoid the big tourist crowds. Castelfiorentino is located between the Arno river and the Elsa valley. It used to be a military base due to its central location between Pisa, Siena and Florence. Castelfiorentino was created to provide the many pilgrims with food and a place to sleep and is therefore an important point for the Via Francigena.
Castelfiorentino was originally called 'Castelvecchio', which literally means 'Old Castle'. We advise to take a nice walk in the center of the city, the center is known for the beautiful architecture. We also recommend to visit the museum in Castelfiorentino. Here you can admire some of the wonderful works by the world-famous Renaissance painter Benozzo Gozzoli. A ticket for the museum costs only € 3 per person.
We also recommend you to visit the 'Cappella della Madonna della Tosse', or 'The Tabernacle of the Madonna with the Cough'. This richly decorated tabernacle contains episodes of Maria's life
When you are ready, you can start at the stage that leads to Gambassi Terme, where you can completely relax.
Gambassi Terme, the relaxation that everyone deserves after walking the Via Francigena
The journey is almost over and Gambassi Terme is the perfect end to your hiking holiday.
Visit historic buildings such as the Chiesa di Santa Cristina and the Chiesa di Cristo Re, rich in paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The last stop of your journey will be relaxing in the famous thermal settings of Gambassi Terme. This term is located in a garden surrounded by ancient trees. The properties of the thermal water of Gambassi have been known since the Middle Ages. Gambassi then served as a resting place for the pilgrims of the Via Francigena. The thermal water is recommended to people with disorders of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. In the Terms of Via Francigena you can try many different thermal treatments. Spoil yourself in the internal and external swimming pool with whirlpool or relax in the sauna. Let your mind and body completely relax during this stop. Gambassi Terme is the perfect conclusion to an intensive walk of Via Francigena.
Do you want to continue the Via Francigena? Continue to Montaione.
Instead of ending the path of the Via Francigena in Gambassi you can also choose to continue to Montaione. Montaione is a small medieval village located between Pisa, Firenze, and Siena on a hill with beautiful views of the Valdelsa. Montaione is a few kilometers from the Sacro Monte of San Vivaldo. This area is surrounded by rows of vines, olive groves and wooded areas rich in oak, chestnut and holm oaks.
Pilgrims who have been drawn by Montaione to walk the Via Francigena have certainly left their mark. Today you can clearly see this in the cultural and gastronomic traditions of the town. In Montaione you can visit the municipal museum or the Pretorian castle. Other attractions are the Church of San Regolo, the Castle of Castelfalfi or the Jerusalem of San Vivaldo.
The city was not born in the Middle Ages, but was already occupied in the time of the Etruscans and the Romans. When you visit Montaione at the end of October, the 'TartuFesta' party is a must; an event devoted to truffles and chestnuts.
This is the part of the Via Francigena that is close to our campsite in Tuscany, Italy. This walk requires a lot of energy but is definitely worth it. The rich colors of the countryside and the woods are breathtaking. Your mind enriches when you take this part of the way from the francs. Is not it a very cool idea that you are on the same path that a pilgrim has taken centuries ago? We advise you to quickly throw your backpack around your shoulder. Start your adventure, discover beautiful Tuscany, and enjoy!