The origin of the Via Francigena goes back to ancient times, when it was nothing more than a set of tracks, trails and paths used in the era of the Lombards and Byzantines. Francigena means “originating in France” and it soon became the road linking the north to the south of Europe. Not only for armies and merchants, but also for pilgrims eager to reach Rome if they came from the north (and from here the harbours of the Apulia to then reach Jerusalem) or Santiago de Compostella if they came from the south. It was Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury, who went to Rome in the year 990, that left us a diary of his journey and thanks to which we have been able to retrace the trails as we know them today.
From Canterbury to Rome on foot – this is what any good pilgrim sets as ultimate goal. It does not matter if it is led by a religious or secular motivation; the journey brings benefit to the spirit, to the mind and to the body. It is a slow and conscious journey, a gift to that part of us wanting to go back to a slower pace.
Moving wasn’t a matter of hours any more, but of days, weeks. To avoid any mistake, before setting off, I had to look thoroughly at the maps, I got back to studying geography. The mountains have become again possible obstacles in my path and no longer beautiful, irrelevant finishing touches of a landscape seen through a porthole.
Tiziano Terzani, A fortune-teller once told me
The stretch of the Via Francigena in Tuscany covers 15 stages and is nearly 400 km long, from the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines to the beautiful Crete Senesi. A small but significant part of this journey can be experienced in the tract that goes though of the Valdelsa hills, a land rich in castles and abbeys. What we propose is a 2-day package, accompanied by a licensed nature tour guide. The departure is from San Miniato railway station, where stands the fortress used as a control point on the Via Francigena. From here we will walk along the Via Francigena to reach a sustainable completely self-sufficient eco-Farm submerged in the silence of the surrounding hills. The evening will be dedicated to relaxation and tasting of locally grown produce. After a peaceful sleep and a delightful breakfast, we set off for the next stage, which will lead us to Castelfiorentino, centre artistically interesting for its sanctuaries, historic villas and for the frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497). Following the visit to Castelfiorentino you will be accompanied to the train station for your return.
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