During the Jubilee, the traveller sensitive to works of arts and nature will be able to discover little known but enchanting corners of Tuscany, revisiting, a thousand years later, one of the main roads of the Middle age, the Francigena way, which connected France to Rome and facilitated the inrush of pilgrim into the Eternal City. In Tuscany the Francigena way went across the Lunigiana, touched Lucca. It crossed the Arno river near Fucecchio, going up on the Elsa valley to reach Siena where, through the Arbia Orcia and other minor valleys. Then it left Tuscany to enter Lazio, through the high lands between Radicofani and Monte Amiata. The current SSN2 main road follows most of this route. But even today it is still possible to find the old stones of the ancient road among woods and cultivated land, churches, parish churches, castles fortresses, hospitals and remains of accommodations which made this journey reasonably easy considering the times. Some of these monuments are currently being restored thanks to a project funded by the European Community through the Tuscan Region.
Maps with tourist information guides of the Francigena way, produced in collaboration with the Touring Club Italiano can be found at the tourist office of the Province of Siena, Piazza Duomo 9, tel 0577/241254, fax 0577/241251. There are four suggested itineraries.
First itinerary. From the Val d'Elsa to Siena.
This section of the Francigena way, mainly along the left or the right side of the Elsa river, marked the border between the dioceses of Volterra and Florence. After the difficult crossing of the Arno river in Fucecchio and San Pierino, the Francigena way reached the parish church of San Genisio, no longer there today, close to the San Miniato parish church. It then continued its journey south. The suggested itinerary follows the path on the left side of the Elsa (Coiano, Chianni, San Gimignano, Badia Isola), taken by the archbishop Sigerico on his return trip to Canterbury in 990 and the one on the right bank of the river (Castelfiorentino, Poggibonsi, Staggia) chosen by Philip II Augustus king of France on his way back from the third crusade in 1191. On this road one can experience the charm of the preserved and towered city of San Gimignano, the remains of the Franzesi a Staggia fortress-palace and the small enchanting abbey of San Salvatore ad Abbadia a Isola.
Second itinerary. Siena and the Francigena way.
It appears that the roman colony Sena Julia had no particular strategic or commercial transit function. The fortune of Siena dates essentially from the middle age and is strongly linked to the Francigena way. The expansion of Siena to becoming one of the important urban settlements of Europe between the thirteenth and fourteenth was mainly due to the city being a - daughter of the way. Siena could offer pilgrims health care with the 'Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala' hospital, which was built in the twelfth century and soon became one of the main structures of its kind. Also important were the large inns and hotels, mainly in the Camollia and San Martino Areas, the areas most influenced by the Francigena way.
Third itinerary From Siena to San Quirico d'Orcia.
Coming out from Porta Romana, the Francigena way went towards south, along the path that coincides largely with the SSN2, on which still appear old hospitals: Santa Maria di Bellem, the leper hospital known as the home of San Lazzaro and two more on the Coroncina and on the Malalamerenda hill. In Isola d'Arbia the roman church of Sant'Ilario is named after a saint worshipped in France. The itinerary takes near the fortified Grancia of Cuna - built in the middle of the lands belonging to the Spedale Santa Maria della Scala di Siena Hospital -, and then continues through Monteroni d'Arbia and Lucignago, to reach Buonconvento, a settlement offering three hospitals and the safety of sturdy fortresses. Here is the abbey of Sant'Antimo, important roman-Tuscan historic monument, and a majestic church with three naves and ambulatory with radial chapels. At the end of a difficult path is San Quirico d'Orcia, with the ancient (eight century) parish church of San Quirico in Osenna.
Fourth itinerary. From San Quirico d'Orcia to Radicofani.
After San Quirico, the road from Vignoni (were a tower and a presbytery can be found) descends towards Bagno Vignoni (near the remains of a bridge of the sixteenth century) a spa center highly renowned in the Middle Age, with a very impressive pool that takes up the whole of the main square of the town. Up then towards Radicofani, with its important Rocca, which was the setting for the adventures of Ghino di Tacco, described by Dante and Boccaccio. A further descent down the valley of the Paglia river, affluent of the Tiber river, and the Tuscan soil is left behind.
(Source: Provincia di Siena)
Provincia di Siena - http://www.provincia.siena.it/default.asp