Trek Notes - Italy

Tuscany & Siena

General Information 
Walking and cycling in Tuscany is a constant delight. In the perfectly-preserved towns and villages we find people living much as their ancestors have done for hundreds of years, whilst in their festivals we see traditions of the past and pageants in colourful medieval costume retained as essential elements in the lives of their communities. The countryside, too, has a timelessness: ancient stone terraces of olives and vines tied with willow twigs to chestnut stakes or elms, pillared as in Roman times. Hills crowned with walled medieval villages and castles; forests of oak, beech and chestnut; fertile valleys where green rows of vines intersect with golden fields of wheat and barley - make up a landscape that we find reproduced in the background of medieval paintings.

Day 1
Arrive in San Gimignano

Day 2
Free day in San Gimignano. Opportunities to explore the walled medieval town, the 'medieval Manhattan', with its world-famous towers and outstanding medieal frescoes in its churches. Optional cicular walk in the countryside around San Gimignano, offering superb views of the town. (4 miles, 2hrs)

Day 3
San Gimignano to Colle Val d'Elsa
Walking: Walk across low hills with vines, woods, olive goves, and views of an almost unchanged medieval landscape... to the ancient walled town of Colle Val d'Elsa, rekowned for its perfectly preserved 'tunnel' streets (also noted for its crystal and icecreams!). (8.5 miles, 4.5 hours)

Day 4
Colle Val d'Elsa to Monteriggioni
Walking: Follow farm tracks and gravel lanes across fertile farmland, with olive groves and vineyards, to the Romanesque abbey of Abbadia Isola, and on to Monteriggioni, a tiny medieval village, with 85 inhabitants, encircled by 13th century walls with 14 watchtowers. (11.6 miles, 6 hours)

Day 5
Monteriggioni to Siena
Walking: Through forests, past two castles, open farmland and wooded slopes. Wonderful views on the approach to Siena, the best-preserved great medieval city in Europe. (11.3 miles, 6.5 hours)

Day 6
Free day in Siena Opportunities for exploring the medieval city with its abundance of outstanding 14th and 15th century art and architecture, from the famous Piazza del Campo, scene of the Palio horse race, to galleries filled with iconic medieval masterpieces, and the great cathedral. There are also many excellent shops, bars and restaurants! Optional Siena city walk. (2 hours)

Day 7
Return to Pisa airport.

hilly countryside is crossed by strade bianche (small gravel roads), mule tracks, farm and wood-land tracks and paths, with some asphalt on the approach to towns, notably Siena.

En Route

unspoilt medieval hill town with massive 12C pink brick ramparts. Boccaccio, author of the Decameron, lived here and his house is now a museum.

San Gimignano: walled medieval town with world famous towers. Romanesque Collegiata, with very fine frescoes by Bartolo di Fredi, Taddeo di Bartolo, Benozzo Gozzoli and others. Palazzo del Popolo with picture gallery. Church of Sant' Agostino, with fine high altar, and choir with frescoes.

Colle Val d'Elsa: walled town with perfectly preserved medieval 'tunnel' streets.

Siena: Piazza del Campo, scene of the Palio. Palazzo Pubblico with pictures and frescoes including the Lorenzetti Good & Bad Government. Medieval Duomo (built 1196-1216) of black and white marble, with remarkable Libreria Piccolomini, decorated by Pinturicchio. Museo dell' Opera with Duccio's Maesta. Pinacoteca: the most important picture gallery for study of Sienese masters - the list goes on and on...

The Palio pageant and horse race round the central piazza of Siena takes place on 2 July and 16 August.

Food & Wine
There are good (several outstanding) restaurants and trattorie everywhere on route: si mangia bene! Traditional Tuscan cooking with game, steaks, beans, wild mushrooms, truffles and home-made pasta. Good local Chianti wines. There are some especially notable gelaterie with a wide selection of homemade ice creams.

For the most popular destinations we are offering 7 or 5-day itineraries. The accommodation options are Standard Hotels or Superior Hotels.

San Gimignano
*** Leon Bianco
Fine converted palazzo in the main piazza. B&B

Colle Val d'Elsa
*** Arnolfo
1960's converted palazzo in medieval Colle Alto (high town). B&B

Il Castello - converted house within the village walls
Sup: ****Romantick Hotel Monteriggioni - well-situated hotel with pool

Std: ** Piccolo Hotel Etruria - small hotel in heart of medieval city centre. Room only.
Sup: ****Athena - modern hotel within the city walls. B&B

From Pisa trains run frequently (change at Empoli) to Certaldo and Siena connecting you with the beginning and end of your trip. From Certaldo take a taxi to San Gimignano (20 min) or continue by train to Poggibonsi and then take a bus (20min). 

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