SAINT FRANCIS WAY

SECTION 1/4 – SELF-GUIDED

Trip Style

Rolling hills and valleys

Availability

From May to October

Highlight

Florence, Casentino National Park, Santuario della Verna

Price from

1020 EUR

 

Grade

St Francis is the patron saint of Italy as well as the patron saint of animals, merchants & ecology.

 

The St Francis Way begins in Florence the birthplace of the Renaissance and to this day a cultural haven.  Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Florence you will walk through the breath-taking Italian countryside.  Lush rolling hills and valleys of olive groves, vineyards and forests will accompany you on this section providing many opportunities to capture panoramic shots of this region. With ample occasions to enjoy a picnic, this section of the St Francis Way will allow you to truly appreciate the countryside that was beloved by St Francis as well as taking you to the most revered location of Santuario della Verna, where St Francis spent many days and also where he received the Stigmata.  Finishing this section in the town of Sanselpocro you can reward yourself with a hearty plate of pasta, after all this is the home of Buitoni Pasta!

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Florence (Firenze) is not only the largest city but also the capital of Tuscany and birth place of Dante.  Renowned world over as the cradle of the Renaissance this city makes a wonderfully cultured start to your walk.  Be sure to have time to visit the domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore to marvel at this engineering feat built by Filippo Brunelleschi, as well as one of the many museums, palaces and churches that house the greatest artistic treasures in the world.

PACKAGE DETAILS

Day 1: Arrive into Florence


Florence (Firenze) is not only the largest city but also the capital of Tuscany and birthplace of Dante.  Renowned world over as the cradle of the Renaissance this city makes a wonderfully cultured start to your walk.  Be sure to have time to visit the domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore to marvel at this engineering feat built by Filippo Brunelleschi, as well as one of the many museums, palaces and churches that house the most significant artistic treasures in the world.

Day 2: Florence to Pontassieve (24km 6hr)


Today you will leave the cultured haven of Florence and during your walk find yourself returning to a simpler way of life, surrounded by the beauty of nature.  Starting from the primary Franciscan church in Florence, the Basilica of Santa Croce, which is also the resting place of Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli and Galileo, you will leave Florence and enter olive groves and vineyards in an area known for its Chianti wines.  Arriving into Settignano, you might take the opportunity to have a quick break for a morning coffee.  Continuing uphill with views of the valley below you will then descend into the valley and follow the Arno River to Sieci where you can enjoy a picnic on the banks of the river.  Climbing up from Sieci you will be able to enjoy sweeping vistas of the surrounding hills and vineyards before then descending again through the vineyards and olive groves to finish your days walking in Pontassieve.  During World War II this town suffered substantial damage and as a result, none of its medieval features remains but it has been rebuilt on its medieval footprint.  However, many sights remain and it is well worth visiting the Pieve di San Giovanni a Rémole where there are the remains of two frescos by Botticelli as well as admiring its tall bell tower.

Day 3: Pontassieve to Consuma (18km 4h30)


Today’s walk though not long will be predominantly uphill and with limited provisions on this route we would recommend that you pack a picnic.  Ascending out of Pontassieve you will be greeted with a spectacular view of the Sieve Valley and Castello di Nipozzano, a prosperous winery.  Continuing on a gravel track you will reach Diacceto and your last chance to pick up any provisions for today.  Still climbing through a quiet forest, then emerging into a lush meadow before returning to a forest path that continues to climb, you then arrive at your destination for tonight, Consuma.  This small hamlet which can be traced back to the 15th Century now services holidaymakers visiting the Casentino National Park.

Day 4: Consuma to Stia (16km 4h)


Leaving Consuma the walk today will be somewhat undulating but predominantly downhill as with yesterday we would recommend that you bring a picnic for today.  Following the trail ascending and descending through pine and beech trees, crossing creeks and small farms you will be rewarded with sweeping views of this mountainous landscape of the Upper Arno Valley before descending for the final time today into Stia at the foothills of Mount Falterona.  Traditionally a textile manufacturing town, today, much like Consuma it is a hub for visitors to the Casentino National Park.  In the town square, which is more shaped like a triangle, there is a fresco by Pietro Annigoni that represents Saint Francis and if all the walking today has built up your appetite why not try the local speciality of “Tortello” a traditional dish of potatoes common to the Casentino region.

Day 5: Stia to Badia Prataglia (25km 6hr15)


Today you will have the opportunity to visit Eremo Camaldoli, a Benedictine Hermitage, so we recommend allowing time for this and perhaps starting a little earlier.  Climbing out of Stia, passing the Madonna del Poggio shrine, the trail crosses the main road a number of times whilst traversing the rolling hills that allow wide views over the region.  Entering the ancient Casentino Forest you will come upon the Eremo Camaldoli.  A short walk from the Hermitage is the village of Camaldoli where you can stop for a break and visit the Monastery that is open for visitors throughout the day.  Continuing on from Camaldoli you have a steep climb to Rifugio Cotozzo where there is a simple stone shelter.  Following the signs for Badia Prataglia through a meadow of ferns you reach another peak after which the trail levels out through a pleasant Beech Forest before again climbing through the forest and clearings before beginning its descent through the beech forest then oak and pine forests arriving into Badia Prataglia.  This town was established in the early 11th Century and due to the bountiful supply of wood from the forests the local craft of woodwork flourishes.

Day 6: Badia Prataglia to Santuario della Verna (17km 4h15)


Today will be challenging but with your end stop the holy mountain retreat of St Francis it is well worth the effort.  From Badia Prataglia you will first descend to the river and cross it before ascending through a forest before levelling out in a fern meadow and crossing a creek.  Climbing steeply through a beech forest you come to another fern meadow and cross another creek.  Trekking up and down through oak forests interspersed with sweeping views of the region you then arrive into the pretty village of Rimbocchi where you will have the opportunity to relax at the small park or grab a bite to eat in the café.  Continuing on the trail you will cross a creek shortly after leaving the village and then begin to climb up to the summit of Poggio Montopoli then weaving through the forest of birch trees you will come to what is widely regarded as one of the holiest and spiritual sites in all of Italy, Santuario della Verna.  Perched on this remote location on Mount Penna it is easy to imagine St Francis here and appreciate why he loved this place.  This is also where St Francis received the Stigmata.

Day 7: Santuario della Verna to Pieve Santo Stefano (15km 3hr50)


Initially moving downhill from La Verna you will then go back uphill to arrive at a wooden cross where you will then join part of the Grande Escursione Appenninica.  Climbing steeply to Monte Calvano accompanied by stunning views worthy of a photo or two, you come upon a grassy meadow before moving downhill and then back uphill again to reach the summit of Monte della Modina.  After this summit, the rest of the walk is downhill to Pieve Santo Stefano which sits on the Upper Tiber River Valley.  Much like Pontassieve, this town was destroyed during World War II leaving it without its former medieval charm.  In memory to all those that lost their lives from this small town, there is a park of remembrance at the Shine of Our Lady of the Enlightenment, that is pleasant to visit.

Day 8: Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro (26km 6hr)


Leaving Pieve Santo Stafano you will follow both the Tiber River and the main highway before you pass under the highway and begin going uphill to a clearing where the trail hugs the mountainside.  Following the trail, as it traverses the ups and downs of the landscape through forests and farmland, you can enjoy the views of La Verne and Caprese Michelangelo.  Winding down to Lago artificiale di Montedoglio you will cross a bridge and continue then around the bottom of the lake once again following the Tiber River until you cross it just before entering Sansepolcro.  This town is the home of Buitoni Pasta, founded by Giulia Buitoni.  In 1906 they built a hydroelectric power plant which allowed Sansepolcro to be the first Italian city to have electricity.  During World War II Sansepolcro was saved from destruction by the British Royal Horse Artillery Officer, Tony Clarke who halted the artillery attack to save the fresco “Resurrection” by Piero della Francesca, a son of Sansepolcro and who’s fresco can be seen in the towns art museum.

Day 9: Sansepolcro, end of walking holiday


After breakfast we bid you farewell.

INCLUDED AND NOT

  • 8 nights in Guesthouses, 2* & 3* hotels
  • 8 breakfasts
  • Roadbook (Guidebook)
  • Luggage Transfer (except in some stages: refuges or gites inaccessible)
  • 24/7 Customer Care
  • Flights/trains
  • Insurance
  • Drinks
  • Lunches & Dinners
  • Transfer from/to airport
  • Extra night stays

Access

Getting there

From London there are direct flights with CityJet and British Airways to Florence International Airport.

From Dublin there are direct flights to Pisa with Aerlingus and Ryanair.  Once in Pisa you can get a train from Pisa Centrale to Firenze S.M.N. which takes approximately 1hr.  You can book tickets in advance and find our schedule information on https://www.italiarail.com/.  When travelling on trains in Italy be sure to validate your ticket on the platform prior to boarding.

From Dublin there are direct flights to Bologna with Aerlingus and Ryanair.  Once in Bologna you can get a shuttle to the train station which runs every 11 minutes and costs €6, more information can be found on http://www.tper.it/content/linea-blq-aeroporto-stazione-centrale.  You will then get a train from Bologna Centrale to Firenze S.M.N. which takes approximately 40 minutes, more information on the schedule and booking tickets can be found on https://www.italiarail.com/.

We can also arrange private transfers from which ever airport your arrive into to your first nights accommodation, get in touch for prices.

Going home


From Sansepolcro we can arrange a private transfer to the airport in Florence or you can get a bus to Arezzo and then a train to Florence SMN and the shuttle bus to the airport.

Information on the bus can be found on the following website here.

Information on the train can be found on the following website here.

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