Tuscan Trails (self-guided)
|Colle Val d'Elsa
If you’re looking for the perfect Tuscan itinerary where you can go at your own pace then this self-guided trip might be just right! Over seven days you’ll get under the Tuscan sun during the day and by night you’ll sleep in convents and beautiful agriturismos (farmstays).
Why we love it:
- Through an extensive footpath network, follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims on the Via Francigena - one of Europe’s most important ‘highways’ in ancient times
- Sample the local drop at Colle di Val d’Elsa, a rural treasure perched on a ridge overlooking rolling fields, and explore the rich scatter of museums, galleries and piazzas
- Wander rolling hills, world-famous vineyards, olive groves and fields of sunflowers through to charming farmhouses
- A feature of this tour is a stay in one of Tuscany’s most beautiful 'agriturismos' and a night in the famed convent at Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Colle Val d'Elsa
- Your trip starts with your arrival in Colle Val d‟Elsa, situated in the heart of Tuscany. The town is accessible by private taxi or public bus from Florence (52km) or Siena (27km). The closest airports are Florence (1 hour) or Pisa (2 hours).
- After settling into your hotel, which is located in the old town, you may wish to take walk around the town centre, known for its perfectly preserved tunnel like streets and its crystal ware.
Day 2: Colle Val D'Elsa - San Gimignano
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
- Your walk today takes you at first through the whole historical town centre of Colle Val D’Elsa, perhaps not as famous as its neighbouring Tuscan towns, but with a very interesting old town centre.
- You will then descend into the valley where you will pick up one of the routes of the ancient Via Francigena. Along this route, through a pleasant, hilly landscape of vineyards and forests you will reach the small hamlet of Bibbiano.
- Another descent will bring you to the valley of the Foci River with a short stretch through the river valley and past an old water mill.
- You will then start to climb along a comfortable track up to a beautiful 'agriturismo' (farm estate), where you will spend the next two nights.
- It's recommended you start early today to make sure you have plenty of time at the property to enjoy its fabulous setting and surroundings, and perhaps its library or swimming pool.
- For those who wish, there is also a longer option to walk to this point.
- Tonight dinner will be included at the private restaurant of the agriturismo.
- Total walking time: (approximately 3.5 hour, plus sightseeing time of 4-5 hours with extra option).
Day 3: San Gimignano
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
- After breakfast, directly from the agriturismo, you will begin your walk to one of Tuscany's most treasured towns - San Gimignano.
- You will make your way up along a ridge to the small hamlets of Ciuciano and San Donato, passing by several old 'pievi' (countryside churches) and villas and with wonderful views of the skyline of San Gimignano.
- This town - sometimes referred to as having the only “skyscrapers” in Tuscany – is an absolute must, a magnificent medieval city with picturesque vineyards, olive and cypress groves surrounding it on all sides.
- You will have time to explore this small romantic old town with its towers that remain from medieval times. The town once had 52 of these towers (there are now less than a dozen).
- Wealthy, prominent families would use the height of these towers to distinguish themselves, and the towers also served to alert the inhabitants of approaching friends and foes.
- A stroll along the town's impressive medieval town walls is a must. In the town itself there are numerous places to enjoy lunch.
- You will then follow the Via Francigena back to your agriturismo. First you will pass the convent of Monte Oliveto, located on a wide ridge, before winding down to a small stream, which you will cross before you climb back up to the agriturismo where you'll spend another night.
- You will have another chance tonight to sample something different from the sumptuous menu of the restaurant. (Total walking time: approximately 4 – 5 hours)
Day 4: Monteriggioni
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- Today you will bid farewell to the agriturismo and head for Monteriggioni, defined by Dante as a crown in the landscape.
- The walk first takes you down into the river valley, before you follow the Foci and eventually reach one of the most wonderful Romanesque churches of Tuscany, la Badia a Conèo.
- The next stop is Quartaia, followed by Gracciano, once one of the most important wheat towns of Tuscany. Another short stretch brings you to the Badia a Isola, once an important stop on the medieval Via Francigena, and a very intriguing building.
- The final destination for today is Monteriggioni, where you'll have time for a drink in the square.
- You will then be picked up by a taxi and transferred to Siena, where you settle in your centrally located hotel, just a few minutes away from the famous Piazza del Campo.
- In the evening you can enjoy a nice stroll into town to have dinner in one of the town's many restaurants, or perhaps a drink in the Piazza del Campo.
- (Total walking time: approximately 4-7 hours (4 hours for shorter options available), plus sightseeing time).
Day 5: Siena - San Quirico
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- A short train ride will take you from Siena to the medieval town of Buonconvento, enclosed inside 14th century city walls.
- A great walk along the ‘strade bianche’ of the amazing Val d’Orcia takes through stunning Tuscan landscapes to the fortified medieval town San Quirico.
- One of the most interesting towns of the Val d’Orcia, an impressive medieval wall has protected the town for centuries and today four gateways into the town remain.
- The beautiful old town is home to a wonderfully restored Romanesque church and the 15th century Palazzo degli Amergihi.
- San Quirico will be your base for the next two nights. From here you may wish to take an optional visit to the nearby town of Montalcino. (Walking time: approximately 5 -6 hrs).
Day 6: San Quirico - Bagno Vignoni or Pienza
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- Today you will have a choice of two great walks. The first option is a walk from San Quirico to the town of Bagno Vignoni; a unique ancient Roman spa town.
- The town is renowned for its thermal healing waters and the main square or ‘piazza’ is a pool of steamy thermal water that is replenished from the village’s thermal springs.
- The healing powers of the town’s thermal waters were first discovered in Etruscan times and later the Romans used the town for both health and relaxation purposes.
- The second option today is a morning walk to the tiny town of Pienza. This town has an interesting history. The first concepts of Renaissance town planning where put into practice here, when Pope Pius II decided to transform the look of his birth town through the help of architect Bernardo Rossellio.
- The beautiful Piazza Pio II and its surrounding structures is a perfect example of their vision.
- There is plenty of time to explore Pienza and from here you may wish to take an optional visit of Montepulciano by bus.
- This afternoon you take a local bus back to San Quirico, either from Pienza or Montepulciano (Walking time: approximately 3-5 hours).
Day 7: End San Quirico
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- Your trip will come to an end in San Quirico after breakfast. From San Quirico you can either take a bus to Siena (and from there a connecting bus to Florence) or you can take a bus to Montepulciani or Chiusi, and a connecting train to onward destinations in Italy.
What to know
This is a moderate walk which is suitable for those who have some experience with hiking/walking and those with a good general physical condition. You should be able to walk for up to 5 hours a day in hot sun and on dusty or stony tracks.
This is a self-guided walking tour and does not include the services of a tour guide and you will not be part of a group.
This trip operates daily from 01 March until 15 November.
At the joining hotel on Day 1 you will receive your detailed road book which includes a technical description of the itinerary, maps, contact listing and 24-hour emergency phone number, as well as useful information on each place visited.
- Luggage transfers
- Detailed route notes and maps
- Transfer from Torraccia di Chiusi to Siena
- Accommodation (4 nights conformable hotel & 2 nights agriturismo)
- Local bus
- On foot
- International flights
- Arrival and departure transfers
- Departure taxes
- Travel insurance (compulsory on all trips)
- Lunches and dinners (unless otherwise stated in itinerary)
- Additional tours or activities
- City tax in San Gimignano (every traveller to San Gimignano must pay a city tax of EUR 2.25 per person, per night. This must be paid at the hotel reception on check-in.)
- Entrance fees
- Taxis/transport (if opting out of walks)
- Local bus and train tickets as part of program (allow EUR10 per person)
- Items of a personal nature
- Daily budget
What to know
This is a moderate walk which is suitable for those who have some experience with hiking/walking and those with a good general physical condition.
Most of the walks are easy but with nonetheless there is some walking uphill due to the nature of the tuscan landscape, and you will sometimes walk on paths with rough surfaces. On some days shortcuts are possible.
A high standard of fitness is not necessary but you should be able to walk for up to 5 hours a day in hot sun and on dusty or stony tracks.
During summer, due to the heat, the level of difficulty of this tour definitely increases. We do therefore not recommend to book this tour from about 14th July until 20th August.
Most paths are relatively well maintained, but during the season some paths can get overgrown (our local office is in continuous contact with local authorities to keep the paths clean – please help us by providing you feedback on the quality of the paths).
A large part of the route is waymarked but on some occasions we have found more interesting routes than those actually waymarked; therefore it is necessary to follow the route descriptions provided together with the maps. With these it is always possible to find your route.
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region. We're travel experts, not doctors and defer to the medicos when it comes to inoculations.
Visas and Permits
Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip – this is your responsibility. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Visas are currently not required for Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian or UK/EU passport holders wishing to visit Italy.
Some EU nationals may travel in Europe using only an identity card, however it is your responsibility to check with the relevant authorities if this applies to you.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Customs and Culture
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in. Your leader will also help steer you though the complexities of local cultural norms.
Pre Departure Information
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
The House of Medici-Christopher Hibbert A Small Place In Italy-Eric Newby Love And War In The Appennines-Eric Newby Italian Lessons-Tim Parks An Italian Education-Tim Parks A Room With A View-Edward Forster Under The Tuscan Sun-Frances Mayes The Hills of Tuscany-Ferenc Maté
Entrance fees to sites you may wish to visit on this self-guided walk are not included in the cost of your trip.
Departure dates This trip operates daily from 01 March until 15 November.
Local Emergency Contacts
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, GENIUS LOCI TRAVEL -Direct emergency phone – shared phone – call this first
0039 089 79 1896 (Mon to Fry 9:00-18:00) ; Emergency 24 h 0039 393 9375299
About this Information
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
5 March 2014
General Contact Details
Web: Visit Peregrine