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Walk this way: the Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage route

Pull on your boots for two extraordinary walks in Tuscany

By Sean Caulfield

A holiday in Tuscany doesn’t have to be all about lounging by the pool. Pull on your walking shoes, grab a map, sun hat, and plenty of water and try out some of these rewarding walking routes.

Via Francigena

This was once the path taken by pilgrims on their way to Rome and was later used by merchants. Today, it’s favoured more by walkers who are either setting themselves a challenge or just looking for a way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the fantastic landscape. The Via Francigena begins in the English cathedral city of Canterbury and, on its way to Rome, passes through France and Switzerland, a journey of more than 2,000 kilometres. On its passage through Italy, the route cuts across Tuscany, so you can pick up a section as a taster to suit your walking ability. Recommended routes in the area include Carmaiore to Lucca (about 24km) and Lucca to Porcari (about 10km). Buy a map or download GPS directions at or download the app here.

Vie Cave

The Etruscans dug this curious network of roads through sheer rock, creating protective walls reaching heights of 20 metres, to which a roof of tree branches was sometimes added. Some say the Vie Cave, which link Sovana, Sorano, and Pitigliano in Grosseto, were sacred routes, others believe they were just well-defended lines of communication. Today, they provide unique places for a ramble through rare microclimates where mosses, lichens and ferns thrive – wear stout shoes, there are streams to ford. Along the way, you’ll find information points revealing more about Etruscan culture as well as the routes themselves. Download a map here to the Vie Cave.

To Tuscany has a fantastic range of villas with private pools, just the place to cool off after a long day trekking around the area.

Over 20 years ago, I moved to Tuscany with my Italian wife and founded To Tuscany as a villa rental company. Our first rentals were in a country residence in Chianti and we offered guests a tailored vacation using our local knowledge and personal service. Today, you can experience the same at over 600 superb villas.

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