The sixth edition of Play Your Tuscany is a journey to discover stories from the Toscana Ovunque Bella project along the Tuscan stretch of the Via Francigena. Players departed on November 9 2017 from the so-called Gateway to Tuscany in Lunigiana, the Cisa Pass, arriving on November 13 in Radicofani, the southern gateway to the Tuscan Via Francigena. And amid all this? The Piagnaro Castle of Pontremoli, the Pallerone nativity set, the International white truffle showcase in San Miniato, the Palazzo Chigi in San Quirico d’Orcia, the thermal baths of Bagno Vignoni, the Fortezza of Radicofani and much more.
Players wandered on foot along stretches of the ancient road, spending nights in old-fashioned guest houses like true Medieval pilgrims! Naturally, tastings of culinary specialties in the places we visited were included in the tour, plus a regenerating rest stop at the thermal baths.
Divided into two groups, the players traveled the 22km of the first Tuscan leg of the Via Francigena. Departing from the Cisa Pass, the pilgrims crossed beech tree and chestnut forests, small towns and stone bridges until arriving in Pontremoli, the historic capital of the Upper Lunigiana.
Here, they visited the centuries-old Piagnaro Castle, home to the Museum of Lunigiana Stele Statues, but not without first sampling some of the local specialties: torta d’erbi, an herb pie, and chestnut-based dishes.
In Aulla, a historic town in the Lunigiana region, the group made a stop at the awe-inspiring mechanical nativity set of Pallerone. Set up for the first time in 1935 using scrap materials, over the years town residents have been directly involved in its construction and maintenance; in a short amount of time, it’s become one of the most iconic Italian nativity sets, and is so popular that it’s visible year-round and not just during the Christmas period.
From Pallerone, the journey continued on the Versilia coastline to Camaiore, for an exploratory stroll through Medieval times, amid mountains and sea.
On the third day, travelers conquered a new leg of the road on foot. From Pieve di Coiano, they walked to the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta a Chianni, close to Gambassi Terme, treading down a road marked by centuries of footprints—from those of the Etruscans traveling toward Volterra to those of Sigeric the Serious, the archbishop who documented a stop here in 990 on his way home from Rome.
In the afternoon, they will visit San Miniato, a shielded town on a hill along the Arno, halfway between Florence and Pisa. For more than 40 years here, the International white truffle showcase has taken place. After a long hike, this is an ideal place to try all the key products of the Tuscan tradition: not just truffles, but mushrooms, oil, cold cuts, meat, cheeses and vegetables…all linked to tradition and regional home cooking, made with simple and genuine flavors.
A place well-suited for hospitality due to its geographic position and monuments, San Quirico d’Orcia is one of the must-visit places once in Val d’Orcia. Inspired by the Toscana Ovunque Bella story, the travelers explored places associated with Cardinal Flavio Chigi who, in 1679, brought about the construction of the towering Palazzo Chigi, adjacent to the Collegiata di San Quirico e Giulitta.
The tour continued in the evocative towns of Vignoni Alto and Bagno Vignoni, famous for their miraculous waters, well-known since the most bygone eras—again, largely thanks to their proximity to the Via Francigena.
“When the carriage leaves San Quirico, one’s gaze can’t help but land on that eagles’ nest amid the clouds, my Radicofani”, the final stretch of the journey and the southern gateway to the Francigena in Tuscany. The group will took a true journey back in time and amid the clouds to get to know the painter Matilde Luchini’s town.
In the 20th century she established the “Vertunno” boarding house, which became a crossroads for important artists such as D Annunzio, Malaparte, Ottone Rosai, Giorgio De Chirico and Ardegno Soffici.