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Via Francigena from San Miniato to Gambassi Terme
Photo © Alessio Grazi
Photo © Alessio Grazi

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Toscana Ovunque Bella meets the Via Francigena

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.

Contents
  • 1.
    Pontremoli
  • 2.
    Aulla & Camaiore
  • 3.
    San Miniato & Gambassi Terme
  • 4.
    San Quirico d'Orcia
  • 5.
    Radicofani
1.
Pontremoli
Thursday November 9, 2017

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.

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.


The Gold of the Garfagnana
Passage through the North gate of Tuscany
color_lens
Idea
 • by Edoardo Pucciarelli
The Gold of the Garfagnana
Pontremoli: a treasure hidden in the Lunigiana
color_lens
Idea
 • by Elisa Orlando
2.
Aulla & Camaiore
Friday November 10, 2017

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.

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.


The Gold of the Garfagnana
The nativity scene recovered by Pallerone
color_lens
Idea
 • by Elisa Orlando
The Gold of the Garfagnana
Touring Camaiore, between sea and mountains
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Idea
 • by Jamie Lee
3.
San Miniato & Gambassi Terme
Saturday November 11, 2017

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.

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.


The Gold of the Garfagnana
Path to paradise between San Miniato and Gambassi Terme
color_lens
Idea
 • by Edoardo Pucciarelli
The Gold of the Garfagnana
San Miniato: a food lover’s dream on the Via Francigena
color_lens
Idea
 • by Jamie Lee
4.
San Quirico d'Orcia
Sunday November 12, 2017

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.

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.


The Gold of the Garfagnana
San Quirico: a gift of the via Francigena
color_lens
Idea
 • by Elisa Orlando
5.
Radicofani
Monday November 13, 2017

“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.

“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.


The Gold of the Garfagnana
Radicofani: the hillside town with never-ending views
color_lens
Idea
 • by Jamie Lee

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