Via Francigena bike tour – I would like to share with you some considerations related to my recent Francigena bike tour.
Perhaps one of the best Tuscany bike tours, this mystic, and historical itinerary is ideal for a multi-day bike vacation.
Via Francigena, is a wonderful scenic path that connects Tuscan jewels like Lucca, San Miniato, San Gimignano, Siena, just to name a few. This itinerary became famous when Sigerico, the archbishop of Canterbury, went to Rome to receive his pallium from the pope. It was around year 990. On his way back home to Canterbury, Sigerico wrote on his travel diary, the details of the itinerary and all the stops he made. Today’s Via Francigena is the “reverse engineering” of Sigerico’s travel diary.
The goal for my Francigena bike tour is to check again the quality of the segment from Lucca to Siena to make sure I have always clear in mind if/what I can offer to my customers. The hidden goal was to have fun with one of my best friends, cycling together, talking, enjoy the beauty of nature, and taste delicious food.
We decided to reach Lucca from Florence by train. In selected trains, in fact, there is a dedicated area to park your bikes, therefore, traveling with your bikes becomes easy and quite cheap.
Our Francigena bike tour start from Lucca at 9 am. Despite the multiple historical buildings, the first 25 km are not exciting; very far from the Francigena – immerse in nature – we all have in mind.
From San Miniato, things are changing and the path that connects San Miniato to San Gimignano is just lovely. At our arrival to San Gimignano, the overall distance is about 100km and the elevation gain is 800mt, 75% off-road. Perhaps due also to my backpack of about 15kg/11lb – despite our super hybrid e-bikes – at the end of the day, I am really exhausted. The reward is super ice cream at gelateria Dondoli. This gelato shop has won “Gelato World Champion 2006/2007-2008-2009“. Absolutely delicious. For bike tour with my customers, I would start from San Miniato reducing the effort of the cycling and removing also the first part of the itinerary that was boring.
For dinner, we indulge in a food paradise at Il Feudo restaurant with the great cook Gennaro. In the morning, for breakfast, we stop by Francesca at Caffè Giardino. Francesca is absolutely kind, the quality of the food is excellent and – above all – in her bar, there is a little window from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of San Gimignano countryside. Just wonderful. After the last photo of the stunning view outside Francesca’s window, we move towards Siena.
The kilometers are running fast even if we enjoy frequent stops to explore the territory and interesting talks with locals as we did when we arrived at “Le Caldane”. This is a great example of Etruscan/Roman thermal bath. After a long-running session, a local guy was having his regular “swimming session” in the pool. Let me underline that the temperature outside was around 3 °C/37°F and the steam of the pool was very visible and attractive. The temperature of the water of the pool – on the other hand – was about 18°C/64,5°F, therefore, we prudently decided to postpone our swimming session waiting for a mild climate.
Francigena bike tour is like living in a “parallel universe”. You can go from one city to another one just cycling in the middle of nature with stunning views, hearing the sound of the forest, while the rest of the world keeps running on big, crowded and noisy streets. This magic road offers the beauty of Tuscany countryside and great opportunities to visit/explore small jewels – like churches called Pieve (medieval origin).
Our arrival in Siena is a joy. Just a few kilometers of a road out of the countryside and we are in Piazza del Campo. We complete the last 2 kilometers walking (biking downtown in Siena is not allowed) surrounded by thousands of tourists. The sun is shining, we sit on the ground to enjoy the beauty of this square while people are looking at us like we were coming from Mars.
The train is taking back us and our e-bikes to Florence, our Francigena bike tour is over. A trip that I will never forget.
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