Tuscany is a perfect place to discover on foot. A blend of enchanting landscapes, restored villas and villages rich with provincial food and characters are woven through with a network of ancient footpaths. For those who love museums and galleries, Gothic and Romanesque architecture, there is plenty to see and do.
Want to savour la dolce vita in the best of regional Italy, travelling at your own pace with just your family or a friend? Peregrine's Self Guided Adventures offer blissful rambles through vineyards, olive groves, and fields dotted with charming villages and seductive villas. In the meantime, we'll arrange your accommodation in comfortable hotels and lodgings for a great night's rest amongst the best the region has to offer, take care of your luggage transfers and be always just a phone-call away, so all you'll need to do is enjoy yourself. Walk the Tuscan Trails, for instance, and you'll be happily immersed in refined culture, regional cuisine and world-class wine amid a blessed Italian landscape. A typical day might unfold something like this: Wake up in a beautiful agriturismo farm estate in the Tuscan countryside Enjoy a leisurely breakfast then use the maps and route notes prepared by us to walk towards the medieval town of San Gimignano...
Along the way, pass rural churches and tiny hamlets snug between vineyards, olive groves and postcard perfect lines of cypress. The town of San Gimignano is famous for its 14 medieval towers – wander amongst them, along the city walls and through the town’s galleries, then return to a lip-smacking evening meal, a glass of vino and another great night’s rest. Night time can be pretty seductive too – from your agriturismo the pretty lights of San Gimignano across the vines are another simple addition to the romantic vibe of Tuscany.
The main trail on our self-guided tour, the Via Francigena, follows in the footsteps of mediaeval pilgrims travelling between Rome and Canterbury. The pace of the itinerary is more a refreshing walk between long lunches followed by a poke around a village before dinner rather than an athletic trek. About 4-5 hours walking a day gets you amongst beautiful surrounds, making a rest stop more an opportunity to soak up the view. Stroll at your own speed, stop where you wish, and sample all the wine, food and sights your heart desires – a self-guided tour is a great way to explore the wonders of Tuscany (or Umbria, Amalfi and the best of regional France and Spain) without the hassle of organizing the whole thing yourself.
Memorable Tuscan Lodgings
In addition to your agriturismo stay on a farm estate, you can spend a night in one of the most beautiful convents of Tuscany at Monte Oliveto Maggiore. This is a red brick Monastery where friars of the Benedictine Order still worship. Later, stay in small lodgings in the historical villages of Buonconvento and Montalcino, surrounded by vineyards of Sangiovese grapes grown to make the famous Brunello wine. In the Val d’Orcia, a unique landscape scattered with the wonderful small towns of San Quirico, Pienza and Bagno Vignoni, get your night’s rest is select hotels. In the cities of Siena and Montepulciano we stay in centrally located hotels.
The attractions of San Gimignano
This town – sometimes referred to as having the only “skyscrapers” in Tuscany – is an absolute must, a wonderful medieval city with picturesque vineyards and olive and cypress groves on either side. The town once had 72 towers (today there are only 14 left). Wealthy, prominent families of this once independent city would use the height of these towers to distinguish themselves. The towers also served to alert the inhabitants of approaching friends and foes. You can see how it once was while overlooking a meticulously built model in the town’s museum.
Other sights include the many churches, galleries and squares. The two main churches are the Collegiata, formerly a cathedral, and Sant'Agostino, which is now home to a collection of art from across the ages, including the main Italian renaissance artists.
The Communal Palace is currently the town gallery. See works by Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Domenico di Michelino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino and others. From Dante's Hall in the palace, you can gain access to a Majesty fresco by Lippo Memmi, as well as the fifty-four metre high Torre del Podestà.
The heart of the town contains the four squares, the Piazza della Cisterna, the Piazza Duomo, the Piazza Pecori and the Piazza delle Erbe. There are numerous places around all of them for you to enjoy lunch!
The landscape of Tuscany
The Tuscan countryside is typified by rolling vineyards, olive groves, golden pasture, red poppies in spring and wild cyclamen in autumn – the views have changed little for hundreds of years. It’s coffee-table-book country and the perfect place to walk – get amongst gentle hills crested by lone pines or oaks, with cypresses lining the route between one farmhouse or village and the next. The Tuscan trail landscape is initially forest and vineyard, but then you enter the spectacular rolling hills of the Crete Senesi, with its extensive fields of wheat and sunflowers. Afterwards, it’s on to the rolling hills of the Val d'Orcia and its scatter of small picturesque towns. Walking through Tuscany is an unforgettable experience!
Peregrine’s new Self Guided walking tour: the Camino de Santiago
Our new self-guided Camino walk follows a trail walked by pilgrims for over a thousand years. The Camino de Santiago (aka the Way of St James) is a network of ancient European pilgrimage routes, all bound for the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain, where the relics of St James are said to be kept. The 780 km World Heritage-listed Camino Francés, (The French Way) is one of the most traditional and scenic Camino routes and Peregrine’s 8-day self-guided walk covers the last spectacular 100 kilometre stretch, from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. Whether it’s spiritual enlightenment you seek or an exhilarating walk in Spain’s beautiful northwest, you will encounter picturesque hamlets, historic sites, rolling hills, rich wooded folds and Galician hospitality at ever turn. This is an experience that will remain with you forever.