Cycling Via Francigena exploring Rome's Imperial Fora
Cycling Via Francigena exploring Rome's Imperial Fora

Lucca to Rome Cycling Via Francigena

Level
3
Distance
423 km
Duration
12 days | 11 nights
period
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
price from
€ 1.953
CO2 footprint
280 Kg/person
  1. Italy
  2.  | 
  3. Self-Guided
  4.  | 
  5. Tourcode ITBM125

A journey that links two of the most beautiful historical cities in Italy, cycling through other extraordinary places: in some cases famed villages, such as San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, in other cases less known -but perhaps, for this reason, more interesting and surprising- locations, such as San Miniato and Colle Val d’Elsa. The journey ends in the Eternal City: Rome.

The scenery varies from the plain of Lucca to the hills of the Val d’Elsa, where the modern wayfarer can plunge into atmospheres that revoke the medieval pilgrimage, among millenary churches and ancient paved paths, continuing on the legendary dirt roads of Siena for kilometres and kilometres, crossing the Val d’Arbia and the Val d’Orcia, icons of the Tuscan landscape. You will visit wonderful villages like Bagno Vignoni, with its enormous thermal pool in the centre of the square, and Radicofani, whose fortress dominates southern Tuscany.

You will be continuously tempted to put your bike down and spoil yourself with a tasting of local products: you will cross the vineyards of the Brunello di Montalcino, one of the best Italian wines, and the production zones of the cacio di Pienza (type of cheese), before entering one of the most important areas for the production of extra-virgin olive oil, between Bolsena and Montefiascone.

But surprises continue, from the enchanting medieval center of Viterbo, with with an entire district dedicated to the pilgrim, to the ancient Etrurian roads, to the Roman amphitheatre of Sutri, completely dug out from the tufo, to the beautiful cycle path that leads you into the heart of Rome, running along the River Tevere until your destination: St. Peter Square.

Highlights

  • Have a toast at the beginning of the journey in the majestic Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, Lucca;
  • Enjoy a dish of Pici "cacio e pepe" in the walled historical centre of Monteriggioni;
  • Walk barefoot on the paving of the Via Cassia in Montefiascone;
  • Relax bathing in the Bagnaccio spa, just outside Viterbo.

Itinerary

Day 1

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca is a town with a charming old town centre, rich in attractions: we suggest you enjoy a long walk along its sixteenth-century walls, admiring the surrounding view, before going to discover why Holm-oak trees grow at the top of the Guinigi tower. Naturally, the mystery can be revealed only by climbing the numerous steps! Restore yourself with a snack of Buccellato, before visiting the splendid Duomo. After dinner, go and admire the elliptic square built over the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheatre, now hidden by multi-coloured houses containing little restaurants and artisan shops.

Day 2

From Lucca to San Miniato, 47 km

From Lucca to San Miniato, 47 km

An easy and flat leg of the journey will lead you from the walls of Lucca to the old town centre of Altopascio, passing through the Badia di Pozzeveri, where ancient pilgrims stop to rest and pray.  In Altopascio you should not miss the local bread: enjoy it at the foot of the Torre Campanaria, whose tolling bell, together with a fire lit on the terrace, used to guide the pilgrims towards the town as darkness was falling.

Leaving Altopascio you will walk along a wonderful section of the original, paved, Via Francigena, surrounded by woods. Let yourself to be charmed by the wilderness of the Cerbaie, before crossing the river Arno to continue towards San Miniato. The Seminary which gives the name to the main square will amaze you with its particular façade: enjoy it lit up, perhaps after eating a risotto dusted with the typical white truffle, the pride of the local area.

Distance: 47 Km

Ascent/descent: +228/-122 m

Day 3

From San Miniato to San Gimignano, 41 km

From San Miniato to San Gimignano, 41 km

A demanding leg, but one with unique beautiful scenery, awaits you. From San Miniato you will descend towards the bottom of Val d'Elsa to later ascend again towards Gambassi Terme, where you will be able to cross the threshold of the Pieve di Chianni and enjoy a healthy bathe in the hot springs of Gambassi, surrounded by ancient trees.

You will continue your journey pedalling across a splendid natural scenery towards San Gimignano, one of the most beautiful towns along the Via Francigena: you will get a foretaste of your arrival when you see in the distance the famous towers that make its skyline unmistakeable. Do not miss a view of the medieval town and its surrounding valleys from the top of the Torre Grossa, or if you haven't yet run out of energy, venture up the steps of the Rocca di Montestaffoli, for an even more special view.

Distance: 41 Km

Ascent/descent: +640/-476 m

Day 4

From San Gimignano to Siena, 50 km

From San Gimignano to Siena, 50 km

From San Gimignano you will continue, up and down, through the Tuscan hills, to Colle Val d'Elsa, a village which will take you back in time, with its charming old town centre and narrow alleyways winding through the stone walls.

Prepare yourselves for one of the most beautiful sections of the Via Francigena: a meditative route, along which you can immerse yourself in the silence of the Pieve di Strove, with its Romanesque interiors, or stand in the quietness of the splendid Abbadia a Isola, with its imposing abbey.

Your breath will be taken away upon seeing the castle of Monteriggioni, with its crown of towers, built on a hill in defence of the ancient Republic of Siena. Do not miss a stroll along its walls to admire the surrounding landscape before continuing towards Siena, entering the city through porta Camollia, the traditional Francigena entrance to the historic centre. An unforgettable way to celebrate? A plate of pici all'aglione in the illuminated Piazza del Campo. And don’t forget the Panforte!

Distance: 50 Km

Ascent/descent: +505/-470 m

Day 5

From Siena to San Quirico d'Orcia, 54 km

From Siena to San Quirico d'Orcia, 54 km

Let’s hope that the sun will be shinning during the first day of your journey, because the Crests of the Val d'Arbia offer unforgettable views: after saying goodbye to Siena, resting on the hills on the horizon, you will travel along the characteristic strade bianche (white, dirt roads) of the senese countryside as far as the fortified village of  Lucignano, with its fine church. At the gates of Monteroni d'Arbia you will be able to admire the impressive Grancia di Cuna, a fortified farm which once held the reserves of wheat for the Republic of Siena.

From Lucignano you will continue your journey through the Valle dell'Ombrone to Buonconvento. You will cross the wall gate and enter the fine old centre of the village, discovering why its name means "happy fortunate place", before jumping again on your bicycle continuing towards San Quirico over dirt roads and some paved sections: these however will be compensated by the beautiful views of the Val D'Orcia, among hills tinted with charming shades and scattered with vineyards and cypress trees. In San Quirico you will stand enchanted before the gate of the Collegiata, trying to recognise the various architectural styles that blend harmoniously into its decorations, before enjoying a rest among the green hedges of the Horti Leonini, a fifteenth century garden.

Distance: 54 Km

Ascent/descent: +650/-455 m

Day 6

From San Quirico d'Orcia to Radicofani, 37 km

From San Quirico d'Orcia to Radicofani, 37 km

You will continue your journey across the fabulous views of the Val D'Orcia: just beyond San Quirico you will enter a timeless world visiting Vignoni Alto, and you will be able to enjoy a reinvigorating rest in the thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni.

Today you will test your strength with a short but demanding leg which will take you as far as  Radicofani: it will be definitely worth it though, because admiring the view from the Radicofani fortress, tired but satisfied, will repay all your efforts.  You will also be able to visit the Pieve di San Pietro, a little jewel dating back to the thirteenth century, and take an evening walk in the old town centre, admiring the magic of the illuminated Fortress.

Distance: 37 Km

Ascent/descent: +650/-455 m

Day 7

From Radicofani to Bolsena, 55 km

From Radicofani to Bolsena, 55 km

From Radicofani you will walk towards one of the most exciting sections of the Via Francigena, leaving the fortress behind you and travelling along the old Via Cassia, surrounded by scenery of infinite hills dominated by Monte Amiata. You will be able to walk in silence in the Romanesque crypt beneath the Basilica del Santo Sepolcro, among decorated capitals and arches: here, according to tradition, some stones bathed in the blood of Christ are supposed to have been kept.

Your journey will continue gently as far as the first views of Lake Bolsena: from here you will descend into a volcanic crater and you will continue along dirt tracks, alternating thick woods with meadows scattered with olive trees, as far as Bolsena. If you are curious to see proof of the miracle of the Corpus Domini, for which Bolsena is famous, in the Cappella del Miracolo some marble slabs stained by the blood pouring from a Host in the thirteen century are kept. If, instead, you are more interested in local cuisine. you can taste the products offered by the lake, such as the  Sbroscia, a typical soup made from lake fish and tomatoes.

Distance: 55 Km

Ascent/descent: +620/-610 m

Day 8

From Bolsena to Viterbo, 33 km

From Bolsena to Viterbo, 33 km

You will continue through woods and olive groves, on a route that will offer constant views of the lake: you will cross an area famous for the production of Extra virgin olive oil, which we recommend you taste on a piece of fragrant local bread before arriving in Montefiascone: not to be missed, a climb up to the Rocca, where you will be enchanted before a boundless view. After descending from the Rocca, you can visit a typical wine bar and taste a glass of  Est!Est!!Est!!!, which here tastes even better as it is produced locally.

If you want to spoil yourself a little more, you will be able to enjoy a pleasant stop at the spa of Bagnaccio, recharging your batteries in its thermal waters before proceeding towards Viterbo, the end of this stage. In honour of your trip, do not miss a visit to the picturesque "pilgrim’s quarter", before admiring the splendid Palazzo dei Papi and enjoying the silence of the Longobard cloisters of Santa Maria Nuova. And to end on a sweet note, celebrate the end of the journey with the delicious local frittellacce!

Distance: 33 Km

Ascent/descent: +545/-420 m

Day 9

From Viterbo to Sutri, 38 km

From Viterbo to Sutri, 38 km

From Viterbo the journey continues towards Vetralla, a town in the heart of the ancient Etrurian territory, to later continue through the green countryside of Lazio you arriving to Sutri, a small town rich in attractions. The Roman amphitheatre, completely dug out from the tufo, is something not to be missed.  Decide whether to sit on the terraces or to get up onto the stage, but as you leave remember to sign the visitors’ register: it is very important for the custodian, and if he is there he will invite you to do so. After this, proceed towards the church of  Santa Maria del Parto, whose tufo walls are decorated with well preserved frescoes. Look for the group of pilgrims among the images, depicted in prayer with their sticks in their hand.

Distance: 38 Km

Ascent/descent: +420/-510 m

Day 10

From Sutri to Formello, 34 km

From Sutri to Formello, 34 km

From Sutri we go on towards Campagnano: during the journey you will flank the Mount Gelato Waterfalls, where you can stop for a reinvigorating bath. A panoramic road of the Veio Nature Park will bring you to the gates of Campagnano. Here you can rest in the Venturi Park, the home of a three-hundred year old Yew tree named the “Tree of Death” by locals: but don’t worry, you can sit in its shade without any danger! Get back on the saddle and face the last leg of your journey which separates you from the Eternal City. You will continue through the Veio nature park with its woody hills, before entering the enchanting Valle del Sorbo. Along the way you will be able to admire the sanctuary of the Madonna del Sorbo, but also the old town centre of Formello, with its fine medieval buildings.

Distance: 34 Km

Ascent/descent: +536/-590 m

Day 11

From Formello to Roma, 34 km

From Formello to Roma, 34 km

This leg continues across the countryside of Lazio, so close to Rome yet so distant from the metropolis because of its quiet atmosphere. You will have to cross a short trait of trafficked roads to reach the cycle path of River Tevere, an enchanting slow path which will lead you to the gates of Vatican City, where you will be able to end your journey in St.Peter Square.

Do not forget to take a triumphant photograph in front of the Basilica, before celebrating the end of the journey freshening up with spring lamb, pecorino romano cheese, and perhaps a delicious maritozzo with cream...you’ve deserved it!

Distance: 34 Km

Ascent/descent: +155/-280 m

Day 12

Roma

Roma

Last day is included. Service ends after breakfast.

Details

Is this for me?


This is the most beautiful section of the Via Francigena cycling route: this trip is for you if you have previous experience of biking trips and a good fitness level, as the ups and downs across the Tuscan hills will definitely test your legs. Entering in Rome through the Tiber River cycling path is a unique, beautiful experience. Renting an E-Bikes makes everything easier and it's highly suggested if this is your first biking trip.

We can rent you a bike, but as with every biking trip you are required to know how to carry out minor repairs on your bike. 

Included


What is included

  • 11 Nights in double room in **/*** hotels , B&B and agriturismi with breakfast
  • 2 dinners (Radicofani, Sutri)
  • luggage transportation from hotel to hotel (max 1 item per person)
  • guida ufficiale del percorso, App
  • Pilgrim Passport
  • Medical and luggage travel insurance
  • 24h phone assistance

What is not included 

  • Transfers to the starting location and from the arriving location of the tour
  • lunches and dinners, if not otherwise stated
  • visits and entrance fees - tips
  • personal expense
  • possible sojourn taxes
  • everything that is not mentioned in the "What is included" section.

Optional Services

These services can be added to the ones included in the base price of the tour:

  • Bike rental
  • Single room supplement
  • cancellation insurance
  • Transfers to reach the starting location or to leave the arriving location of the tour, which will be quoted on request.

Accommodation


We work with 3* hotels, B&Bs and farmhouses that reflect our way of experiencing travel: they are comfortable and characterful structures, which we choose one by one, managed by passionate and welcoming people.

Unless otherwise specified in the travel listing, all provide private en-suite rooms with breakfast included.

Below you see some examples of the facilities used for this trip, but keep in mind that they may vary based on availability in the period. We could therefore book for you structures different from those you see listed here, but of the same category and carefully chosen according to SloWays criteria.

Hotel Dharma Style Roma
Hotel Dharma Style - Roma

Hotel Dharma Style, located in the center of Rome, is very close to the main attractions and it is also close to the metro. Rooms are all recently renovated and are modern and beautifully decorated. These are equipped with free Wifi, soundproofing, air conditioning, TV, minibar, coffee/tea maker, telephone with direct line. Breakfast is rich and good.

https://www.dharmagroup.it/

Hotel San Miniato San Miniato
Hotel San Miniato - San Miniato

What in the thirteenth century was a severe monastery cloister is now Hotel San Miniato, refined historic home sits on a hill overlooking the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Pisa. The rooms are comfortable, elegant and clean. Breakfast is good and rich. 

https://www.hotelsanminiato.com/

Hotel La Cisterna San Gimignano
Hotel La Cisterna - San Gimignano

The hotel is both overlooking the ancient Piazza della Cisterna used to welcome pilgrims from all over the world and charming hills of San Gimignano. This stately homes is located in an excellent position, into the heart of San Gimignano.

https://www.hotelcisterna.it/

Hotel Chiusarelli Siena
Hotel Chiusarelli - Siena

Hotel Chiusarelli*** is located in the city center of Siena and finds its natural setting in a neoclassical villa built around 1870. The Hotel has been completely renovated in 2013 and offers spacious and clean rooms with air conditioning/heating, telephone, free Wifi and TV with Sky Vision. The Hotel doesn't have the lift. Quality breakfast. 

https://www.chiusarelli.com/

Hotel Palazzuolo San Quirico d'Orcia
Hotel Palazzuolo - San Quirico d'Orcia

Hotel Palazzuolo is situated within a private park of 11 hectares on the edge of the village of San Quirico d’Orcia. The structure is a little bit dated, but rooms are well-furnished and some of these have a balcony with views of swimming-pool or Val d'Orcia. The restaurant is open every day and it offers traditional dishes. 

https://www.hotelpalazzuolo.it/

Agriturismo La Selvella Radicofani
Agriturismo La Selvella - Radicofani

Set between 2 rolling hills in the heart of the Val D’Orcia Valley, Agriturismo Selvella is a renovated Tuscan country house Radicofani 3 km away offering typical rustic rooms and a summer pool. The location is quiet and totally surrounded by nature. Rooms are comfortable and cozy with free Wifi, air conditioned and some of these have a view overlooking tuscany countryside or Radicofani. Owners are hospitable and helpful. Quality breakfast and cuisine. 

https://www.selvella.com/

Agriturismo Le Vigne Bolsena
Agriturismo Le Vigne - Bolsena

This agritourism is just 250 metres from the centre of Bolsena and it has a nice view of the Bolsena Lake. Rooms are spacious and well appointed. These offer flat tv, free WiFi, air conditioning, heating, independent bath and shower and some with private entrances. Breakfast is rich and various of sweet and savoury food. 

https://www.levigne.it/

Agriturismo Montefosco Sutri
Agriturismo Montefosco - Sutri

Agriturismo Montefosco is nestled in the countryside of Lazio a few steps from Rome and surrounded by its hazelnut trees. Room are well-finished, clean and well-furnished with free Wifi, TV, air conditioning/heating. There is quality cuisine and the restaurant offers traditional dishes with local ingredients. Staff are helpful and courteous.

https://www.agriturismomontefosco.it/

Hotel Rex Lucca
Hotel Rex - Lucca

Hotel Rex*** is 80 m from the main train station and 100 m from the ancient walls of Lucca. Rooms are quiet and well-finished with free Wifi, air conditioned, telephone and fridge. Staff is helpful and courteous. Buffet breakfast is rich and varied. 

www.hotelrexlucca.com

Hotel Riario Viterbo
Hotel Riario - Viterbo

Hotel Riario is located in the center of Medieval Viterbo, in a builiding of the 16th century. Rooms are furnish in elegant way, comfortable and well-finished. These offer TV, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning. Breakfast is good and rich. 

www.palazzoriario.it

B&B Nonna Loreta Formello
B&B Nonna Loreta - Formello

B&B Nonna Loreta is located in a quiet and comfortable house and it offers a garden and a terrace. Rooms are well-finished and clean with air conditioning/heating, TV, private bathroom and some of these have common bathroom. Breakfast is richand varied. Owners are helpful and cozy. 

www.nonnaloreta.com

When to travel


The climate in Central Italy is generally very mild  with  differences  depending  on  the geography  of the  region,  from  coasts  and valleys to the continental areas. The warmest months are generally July and August, with temperatures ranging from 23°C up to 30°C; the valleys can often see higher  temperatures and 38°C to 40°C is not uncommon. While June and September offer both nice warm weather. Of course, there are always exceptions or dry spells that cause a few days to get really hot.Spring (April and May) and Autumn (October and November) are dry, with sunny days but the chances of rain are high.The weather can change very quickly and you must be prepared forrain, mist, wind, fog (and even hail or snow at higher elevations) –especially in spring and autumn. 

What to bring


Clothing and other items
You will need your regular walking/cycling gear, including some sort of reflective garment. For the evenings, smart outdoor style trousers (or shorts) are invaluable, as are quick-dry t-shirts. These can be washed easily and will dry overnight and still look good for sightseeing or having a drink in town.

Take as little as possible to avoid potentially lugging a heavy suitcase up three flights of stairs at the end of the day. Please be aware that laundromats (“Laverie”) are not common in rural areas, so plan to do handwashing of small items.

Lightweight walking shoes/ trainers
For wearing around towns & villages. They can also be a back-up pair.

Socks & underwear
Take only good quality socks with quick-dry and insulating qualities. Road test them before you go on the trip. Take a suitable quantity of underwear as washing facilities are limited.

Warm jacket, hat, gloves
Bring a fleece, Polartec or warm layers for the evenings especially in spring or autumn; be sure it is totally suitable for your needs.
A fleece jacket which blocks the wind (Wind-stopper) is the most preferable. In the summer months a lightweight jacket is suitable for evenings.
If you are cycling/walking in mountainous or coastal areas, even in the height of summer, the weather can change very quickly and unexpectedly and you should be prepared for fog, mist, rain, snow or hail at any time. Always take an extra layer with you, as well as a warm hat and gloves.

Waterproof jacket & trousers
If you are caught in heavy rain, with good waterproof clothing you should remain dry. Remember that most garments will lose their properties over time. Few will remain waterproof for more than five years and many deteriorate in three years or less. We recommend a rain jacket with a good hood and collar and waterproof or thermal walking/cycling trousers or tights.

Dress code
In general, you should wear suitable clothing when entering a church (in many places, it is considered unacceptable to go inside wearing shorts or a tank-top). We suggest that women carry a shawl to cover up bear shoulders or low-cut tops. It also comes in handy when your shoulders get sunburned!

It is considered inappropriate for men to go without a shirt / T-shirt (other than at the beach).

Trekking poles (adjustable)
Highly recommended. A pair works best, depending on what you are comfortable with. If you suffer from back or knee pain this should be considered essential. Remember to practise walking with your pole(s) on different types of terrain in the months preceding your trip.

Walking boots
The importance of good footwear cannot be stressed enough. Your boots should be sturdy and of good enough quality to handle all types of terrain. Lightweight boots, (cordura/leather boots) which have Gore-Tex or sympatex water-proofing are most suitable for this trip. They should provide good ankle protection and be well broken in. Waxing leather boots regularly prolongs their life.

Walking tops & trousers
We recommend walking trousers and shorts and quick-dry wicking t-shirts. These can be washed easily and will dry overnight and still look good for sightseeing or having a drink in town. Wicking T-shirts are fast drying, keep moisture away from your skin and are available at outdoor stores. You should also bring one pair of loose-fitting trousers to wear in cities and for evenings out, etc. Shorts or zip-off trousers are useful in warmer weather.

Practical info

How to arrive


From Bologna Airport (BLQ), reach the central railway station, from where you can take a train to Lucca with change in Florence.

From Pisa Airport (PSA), you can reach Lucca by train, with change at Pisa Central station.

From Florence Airport (FLR), take a public bus to Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station, and then a train to Lucca (direct).

On departure, you can reach Pisa, Bologna and Florence by train. If you are flying from Rome (FCO or CIA), you can reach the airport by bus.

Mobile App


Use the SloWays APP for iOS and Android smart phones in combination with the written documentation provided.

The App has the detailed tracks and maps that you can use offline and without roaming. Thanks to the phone’s internal GPS, you can check your exact position on the map, so you always know exactly where you are. It also helps you self-navigate you way while travelling. More information on how to use the App inside the roadbook documents.

The navigation features include:

  • Offline navigation. Mobile data not required after initial download
  • Accurate GPS tracks
  • Autorotation of the maps
  • Daily route summary and elevation chart
  • Panorama of the track and at street level
  • Alarm and vibration that alerts you in case you go off track.
  • Emergency SMS button with position coordinates
  • Possibility to record and take georeferenced photos of problems on route alerting fellow travelers
  • Hotel information
  • Points of interest along the way
  • Historical background

Wanderlust Nominee Best Specialist Tour Operator 2023
Wanderlust
Nominee Best Specialist Tour Operator 2023
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Touroperating
S-Cape Countryside Travels srl
Borgo Allegri 16R
50122 Firenze FI
P. IVA 05227330486

 
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Touroperating S-Cape Countryside Travels srl Borgo Allegri 16R 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
VAT Nr 05227330486

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