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Duration
9 days
Activities
  • self guided cycle
Accommodation
  • 8 nights in 3 star hotels and B&Bs
Meals
  • 8 Breakfasts

Price

$2060USD

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Overview

Trip Code: VF2

Trip highlights


  • Discovering Parma and its delicacies, such as the Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma
  • Exploring Lucca and its city walls by bike
  • Soaking up the medieval atmosphere of Pontremoli and Monteriggioni
  • Enjoying stunning views of hilltop villages, open valleys, cypress woods and olive groves

This section of the Via Francigena encompasses some of the best landscapes of Italy. Starting in the gastronomic heaven of Parma, an initially demanding but beautiful cycle will lead you through medieval hamlets and towns awash with history. This breathtaking route continues across the Appennines, through the green countryside and briefly towards the sea. You then plunge into the little-known region of Lunigiana before cycling into the rolling hills of Tuscany. You will visit the world-renowned historic Tuscan towns of Lucca and San Gimignano, and then cycle one of the most beautiful sections of the Via Francigena as you make your way towards Siena. En route you will bask in the stunning landscapes and immerse yourself in the history and culture of these regions. You will stop to visit parish churches which are a thousand years old, explore archaeological finds discovered at the Abbey of San Caprasio, and marvel at tower-crowned castles. And of course, you will enjoy sampling the delicious local food in each town you stop in.

Trip Grading

moderate to challenging

More info about grading system

Make your own way to the first hotel in Parma. Known widely for its cured ham and cheese, the city is also packed full of historic sights with impressive architecture found in the old centre. This afternoon you can try and sample as many of the local delicacies as possible. Or you can take your time to explore the artistic beauties of the city - from the imposing interior of its Cathedral and Baptistery, to the enchanting Palazzo della Pilotta and the Farnese Theatre.

Meals:  Nil

The cycle today is quite demanding, but is also rich in beauty. Along the way you will pass the villages of Bardone and Terenzo, with their ancient churches. From here an ascent will lead you to Cassio, where a brief descent tricks you in to believing that you have reached your final destination. Whilst you are almost there, there is one last ascent towards Berceto. The village of Berceto is a little “stone jewel”, where you can restore yourself with local mushrooms and pattona, a typical cake made from chestnut flour. Ascent 1068m/3504ft, descent 322m/1056ft

Meals:  B

Today you will make your way into Tuscany, and the surprises along the way make your efforts worthwhile. An exciting descent from the Cisa Pass brings you to Pontremoli, a town of bridges and mysterious Stele statues (in the Castello del Piagnaro). Here you can enjoy a relaxing walk through the alleyways of the old town centre. Later you continue to Aulla, where you can set your bike down for the rest of the day and visit the Abbey of San Caprasio, which contains archaeological finds from the medieval period. Don't miss a walk along the ancient walls of the Fortezza della Brunella before making your way on foot through the old town centre. And if you are hungry, there is nothing better than the tasty local focaccias, which are best enjoyed still warm and accompanied by charcuterie and cheeses. Ascent 370m/1214ft, descent 1115m/3658ft

Meals:  B

Leaving Aulla you will cycle along demanding by gratifying paths. Catch your first glimpse of the sea as you cycle through green countryside and charming medieval villages. Arriving in Sarzana you will be amazed by the Baroque interior of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and you can admire the Gothic facade of the Pieve di Sant’Andrea, the town's oldest building. Continue along flat paths which follow the footsteps of ancient pilgrims who walked from the Roman port of Luni to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The day ends in the town of Massa, located just a few kilometres from the Verisilia sea. Here you can visit the 15th century Malaspina Castle and admire the views over the town. Along with nearby Carrara, the city specializes in the processing and export of marble. Ascent 716m/2349ft, descent 770m/2526ft

Meals:  B

Today you will follow a lovely coastal cycle path, which leads you from Marina di Massa towards Pietrasanta. Before browsing the art galleries and shops of Pietrasanta we recommend a visit of the town’s Duomo and a walk amongst its marble columns and frescoed vaults. From Camaiore you continue over the Tuscan hills surrounding Lucca. You will enter Lucca through its city walls. This afternoon you can immerse yourself in its old town centre, browsing the little shops of the circular piazza where you can buy spelt and locally-made biscuits. You can also conquer the Guinigi Tower and admire the town from up high in its hanging garden. Ascent 380m/1247ft, descent 356m/1168ft

Meals:  B

An easy and flat cycle today will lead you from the walls of Lucca to the old town centre of Altopascio. On the way you will pass through the Badia di Pozzeveri, where ancient pilgrims once stopped to rest and pray. Don't miss your chance to sample the local bread here - it's a real delicacy! The route continues across the wild land of the Cerbaie, before crossing the river Arno and leading you towards San Miniato. Here the Seminary which gives its name to the main square will amaze you with its distinctive frescoed facade. San Miniato is a hidden gem of Tuscany and a stroll through town is highly recommended. Tonight you can marvel at the Seminary while perhaps eating a risotto dusted with the typical white truffle, the pride of the local area. Ascent 228m/748ft, descent 122m/400ft

Meals:  B

A demanding but unique section awaits you today. From San Miniato you descend to the bottom of Val d’Elsa and then later ascend towards Gambassi Terme, where you will be able to cross the threshold of the Pieve di Chianni. Pieve di Chianni is where Archbishop Sigeric slept on his way to Rome. Continuing your journey, pedal across splendid natural scenery to San Gimignano, one of the most beautiful towns along the Via Francigena. As you head towards San Gimignano, its unmistakable famous towers will come into view. You can admire the view of the medieval town and its surrounding valleys from the top of Torre Grossa. If you have energy to spare this afternoon you can even venture up the steps of the Rocca di Montestaffoli, where a spectacular view can be enjoyed. Ascent 640m/2100ft, descent 476m/1562ft

Meals:  B

Leaving from San Gimignano you continue, up and down, through the Tuscan hills to Colle Val d’Elsa, a timeless Tuscan village with a charming old town centre and narrow alleyways winding through its stone walls. The route continues through one of the most beautiful sections of the Via Francigena: a meditative route where you'll find yourself immersed in the silence of the Pieve di Strove, with its Romanesque interiors. You can also stand in the quietness of the splendid Abbadia at Isola and its imposing Abbey. Along the way don't miss a chance to stroll along the wall of the breath-taking castle of Monteriggioni, which once defended the Repubblica of Siena. Later you will arrive in Siena, cycling through dirt roads and the ancient medieval hamlet of Cerbaia en route. If you want to celebrate your arrival in Siena, try a plate of pici all’aglione in the illuminated Piazza del Campo. And don’t forget to sample the panforte! Ascent 505m/1657ft, descent 470m/1542ft

Meals:  B

Arrangements conclude after breakfast. Extra nights can be arranged in Siena or continue to Rome.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 8 breakfasts
  • 8 nights in charming B&Bs and 3 star hotels (hotel taxes extra, payable locally - allow €10-12)
  • Information pack including smartphone app with maps plus a route book per room booked
  • Luggage transfer (max 1 piece per person) - excess charges apply and must be pre-paid
  • Emergency hotline
  • Hybrid 21 speed rental bike with front bag map holder, odometer, pannier, lock, repair kit and helmet (e-bikes available - supplement applies)
  • Bike theft insurance
  • Credenziale - the pilgrim’s passport

  • Travel to Parma and from Siena
  • Lunches and dinner daily and all beverages
  • Entrance fees to museums, parks and archaeological sites
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tour guide – this is a self guided trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Hotel taxes (allow €10-12, payable locally)

Bike information


Grading

moderate to challenging  

This trip involves 7 days cycling with daily distances between 41 to 74km/25.5 to 46mi with daily ascents between 228m and 1068m. The cycle route is mainly along well-asphalted country and secondary roads and the terrain is hilly to mountainous. As you approach larger towns you will cycle on roads with more traffic. The accent is on keeping a relaxed pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a good to excellent level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. *For safety reasons we insist that helmets be included as a compulsory item on your equipment list.


Departure dates

Daily from 1 Apr to 31 Oct

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Total Priceper person from

$2060USD

Options & Supplements*
  • Electric bike supplementUSD$150
  • single supplementUSD$330
  • single traveller surchargeUSD$670
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Making Europe Affordable

We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

Self-Guided Specialists

Our wide range of self-guided itineraries embody the UTracks philosophy of exploring Europe your way. We handle the logistics so all that's left for you to do is enjoy exploring Europe at your own pace. Most depart daily with a minimum of two people, meaning maximum flexibility.

Our Wide Range

With close to 400 trips in almost 50 countries, including the largest range of bike & boat holidays in Europe, we're confident that we can organise an Alps walk, Camino de Santiago or Via Francigena experience, Food Lovers' trip or a tour in a lesser-known pocket of Europe that you will love. 

Videos

Walking Italy's Via Francigena | Italian Camino | UTracks
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