Long walks

Lucca to Siena – Via Francigena – October 22

6 days walking through Tuscan countryside to the beautiful town of Siena

The Italian region of Tuscany is beautiful and I had always wanted to visit there, so when we decided to walk the Via Francigena I had mixed feelings about whether I would be able to do it by carrying everything with us. We were amazed that it was so hot in October and at the same time realising that I had taken far too much clothing and that a 65Litre rucksack was too big and heavy!

We walked from Monchique to Silves which is on the Via Algarviana in January 2023, a 32 kilometre trek over many hills and took about 8 and half hours. It was good training for our next part of the Via Francigena from Siena to Rome in April.

Siena to Rome – April 2023

Continuing the Via Francigena on Friday 14th after a late arrival in Siena, we met up with cousin Rob and his wife Deb at breakfast. We went our separate ways for the day, as we walked to Buonconvento and then saw them later at the hotel. It was a lovely walk to Ponte d’Arbia where we stopped for a drink before proceeding the long uphill walk where the Francigena went away from the road and descended to the town where we found our hotel with a note in the window because they had no reception and we had to go to their sister hotel for the key. We ended up staying as Rob appeared and we felt it to be easier that way rather than walk back and they had a room, also breakfast we there and more convenient.

We set off together the next morning towards San Quirico in fine weather. On reaching Monteneiri Rob and Deb were hoping to get a bus and miss out on the climb to the village. Phil and I stopped for coffee and cake there after eating our lunch, before proceeding to San Quirico when the rain started and we reached our accommodation at 16.30 where we could dry our clothes and relax in a very comfortable B & B. We had a lovely meal in the evening at a popular restaurant and went to bed early. The two Italian couples staying there who were very friendly also dined at the restaurant. The next morning we arose early and walked around the village before breakfast at 8 o’clock. This was a very pretty village and a UNESCO site and we stayed just below the wall of the village.

On Sunday was the most challenging walk of the journey to Radicofani, but first of all we stopped at Bagno Vignoni hot springs and had a coffee which had a long uphill climb at the end and was nearly 33 km. It was getting later into the evening as we got higher and closer to the village there was a chilly wind, and we fortunately got out of the wooded area before the light had gone. We reached the village about 8.20pm feeling very tired and not finding our accommodation we went into a small Pizzeria restaurant to ask where it was and was told it was lower down the hill. So after checking in, we returned to the restaurant for a pizza and enjoyed speaking with one of the owners who was originally from Siberia.

On the 4th day the walk to Acquapendente was shortened at Ponte A Rico when 10 of us waited for the bus to the town rather than walking beside a busy road with no footpath. The bus was later than expected so it was a relief when it came about 25 minutes later and we got there about 12.30. This place was not as attractive as the previous ones but we are appreciating the rest. Pictures from the roof terrace where we stayed.

The 5th day of walking took us from Acquapendente through San Lourenzo Nuovo where we stopped for lunch and experienced another amazing Italian soup! The weather had got cooler and the soup was a good choice. We then walked up the town and got a great view of Lake Bolsena where we descended across an old crater around to the eastern side of the lake. Our hotel was close to the side of the lake and not far from the old town where we found a good trattoria to have dinner.

After breakfast next morning with an Irish couple we’d met on our walk from Radicofani who were at the hotel, we started out 6th day walking to Montefiascone at 10.00. It was a lovely sunny day so I wore my shorts and the path took us through beautiful countryside often with views of the lake. It got cloudier as we went but was warmer than it had been, then on our approach to Montefiascone it became cooler. We had a beer before descending to our B & B which was a private house and family. We returned in the evening and went up to the piazza near the cathedral to a good and reasonably priced ristorante Dante and joined our fellow walkers for dinner.

Our 7th day took us to the city of Viterbo which was just over 12 miles. It was an easy walk but disappointing to find no hot springs available for bathing anymore, there was a bad smell and the area was closed. We arrived at our accommodation in the centre of Viterbo about 14.45. By the time we were ready to go out again my husband realised he was missing his Paramo gilet which hadn’t been packed. We tracked it down to the ristorante from the night before and headed for a bus back to Montefiascone to pick it up. The lovely young waitress was pleased to see us as she couldn’t contact us and gave us a free drink as well. We got a bus back to Viterbo and had a meal at a Chinese and Japanese restaurant before returning to Compasso Suites which is a good place to stay.

On the 8th day we left Viterbo en route to Vetralla and took the wrong Francigena route out of the city and we had to retrace our steps back to the city wall and find the nearest entry point to the correct route which meant that we lost over an hour. The weather was much warmer and made our walking speed more difficult. By the time we reached Vetralla around 5pm and we sat outside a bar to have beer and crisps in the sun. We still had a further journey to Cura to our accommodation which had a lovely restaurant attached where we ate an expensive meal then retired to bed.

We joined the path from Cura and met Liz and Ray again who took our picture early on in the walk to Sutri via Capranica. There we parted company with Rob and Deb who had already arrived in Capranica and were staying at the local hostel then taking a different journey from us, on their holiday going further north. There was a lovely forest en route to Sutri which extended for about two kilometres before opening up to the road to Sutri which was another village on a hill. We weren’t staying there and had another two miles by road to reach our accommodation as we decided not to take the Francigena route around to it. It was in a lovely location and the hotel hosted many functions and weddings and we more easily picked up the Francigena the next morning.

The last picture above is the hotel we just left which had a gourmet chef we was a treat the night before. Now the 10th day takes us to Campagnano di Roma and is a 23.7km journey and after stopping for a drink at Monterosi and meeting Liz and Ray again we continued ahead of them until we reached a crossroads where two of the Via Francigena rangers told us about a different path which was shorter and with greener scenery, which five of us decided to take rather than the road walking. I had a good app which had the path marked on it so I led us towards our destination. We split up short of the town as Liz had booked accommodation before the town and we took a path which led away from the road and found a resting place with a water fountain to replenish supplies before continuing up the hill. We reached the main street and a bar for a beer before looking for our B & B which was close by, but not easy to find. It was a quaint little place, an old property with a damp feel to it so we did our best to air out the bed in preparation for sleeping later and went for our evening meal. We ended up speaking with an Italian family who spoke good English and had a good conversation with some interesting connections. We discovered that they have an Air BnB flat, his name is Byron and this is his link which he wanted to share: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/629001898357117340?adults=1&children=0&enable_m3_private_room=false&infants=0&pets=0&check_in=2023-05-01&check_out=2023-05-06&federated_search_id=3cb61fdb-50e5-42cf-8b4b-ef7e7e413776&source_impression_id=p3_1682715873_AhhaCh7Eu9rDadAp

It was a damp morning but had stopped raining when we set off on our penultimate walk to La Storta. We later saw Liz and Ray and had our picture taken together by some Italians they met in a lovely park for horses and cattle. They continued ahead of us and we caught up with them in Formello and we had lunch together then went our separate ways as we were staying in different areas that night. We had further to go as we stayed nearer Olgiata past a tennis club at the end of the road.

We were so tired on arriving at our B & B at Vacanze Romane Olgiata about 6pm and not finding anyone to check in with, we tried calling their phone number, but having difficulty explaining who we were as they didn’t speak English, finally the man came down and we were shown our room. We could only get food delivered as the local restaurant was closed on Monday/Tuesdays. We decided to have an early night and forego a meal and catch the train in the morning to Monte Mario where we could walk more easily into Rome through nature rather than by road walking. We were then able to get to the end point of the walk at the Vatican, Piazza San Pietro by early afternoon and get the signed pilgrim’s certificate as a record of the walk. There were long queues to go in the Basilica but not for pilgrims, who had to go through metal detection and as I had a penknife with me I decided to stay outside and wait for Phil who got certificates for both of us.