In Tuscany along the Via Francigena: a trip on the pilgrims footsteps
A journey to discover ancient suggestions
Slow down and soak up the history, through a path that is both cultural and spiritual: for many, this is what a journey on foot along the Via dei Pellegrini means. This is not an ordinary road, but a set of medieval routes, streets of transhumance, trade and especially of pilgrimage that connected the main centers of the faith: Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago. The route, which has a total of 79 stops, has been handed down from Sigerico the prelate, who in his journey from Canterbury to Rome took note of each stop that corresponded roughly to a place of worship or a hostel for pilgrims. In Tuscany the way of the Pilgrims is divided into 15 stages, from Passo della Cisa to Acquapendente: a varied path, unforgettable in some places, that crosses Siena pointing to its most emblematic places.
Siena and the via Francigena: from Monteriggioni to Ponte d’Arbia
Walking ideally along the Via Francigena from north to south, just as Sigerico did in 990 A.D., the penultimate stage before reaching Once you leave the walls of Monteriggioni, and when her crown of towers will be out of sight, it will be necessary to travel 20.5 km before arriving at the destination, but along the way you can immerse yourself in the pleasant atmosphere designed by the hills of Siena and in ancient and fascinating places, most notably the Abbey of San Salvatore all’Isola, monastery and place of hospitality for pilgrims from 1161 that still survives today. Beyond Cerbaia and after traveling several kilometers into the forest, you will reach the Chiocciola castle and the Villa one right after it. This will be the last bastion before coming to Pian del Lago, from which the passage opens in a new woodland area, the Renai, and then leads to Siena through Porta Camollia. Once in the city, travelers can not avoid following the path that will lead to via Banchi di Sopra and from there to Piazza del Campo: this is the first stop that the wayfarers reached, along with the Torre del Mangia, with its 400 steps, the Palazzo Pubblico and, later, the Duomo, home of the famous pulpit by Nicola Pisano. The last stop within the town, which was an obligatory pilgrimage passage, was the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala, which still keeps intact the testimony of the history of the Path, the one that led to Rome, which began in the Middle Ages and continued until the contemporary age. Nowadays a museum, the Santa Maria della Scala s perhaps the iconic building that best represents the Via dei Pellegrini in the city.
How to visit the Tuscan stages of the Way of the Pilgrim
he pilgrims walk along the Via Francigena is a challenging and rich journey, both from the emotional and from a social and spiritual point of view. From the practical point of view, to deal with this path is necessary to have preferably a large backpack, that is able to contain about 40/50 liters of products. You should never be without water, a torch, waterproof shirts or rain jacket, depending on the period in which they will choose to travel. Do not forget that the path involving Siena and its surroundings, in particular, have no stops in which to stock up water.