In the plain of Lucca stands the Fortress of Montecarlo, where the mountain panorama has now stretched out and the Via Francigena has left behind Lucca and the Cathedral of San Martino, home of the mysterious labyrinth. The castle is a fortification dating back to the 12th century, long disputed between the powers of Lucca, Pisa and Florence; its rooms have seen the passage of important figures, such as warlords, popes and kings.
All along the ancient road, the towers towering over the panorama preserve tales of a rise to power. About halfway along the Via Francigena you come across a stretch of original paving and, not far away, the Rocca di Federico II in San Miniato: it was built by order of Frederick II of Swabia, and it was here that Pier delle Vigne, a character from Dante's Inferno, was held prisoner. The story of the 14 towers of San Gimignano is different, as they are architectural documents of the success of the spice trade.
The Val d'Elsa is home to the solid and imposing Castle of Monteriggioni; the circle of walls crowned with towers seems to have been crystallised in time, and the walkway on the ramparts gives the emotion of feeling like sentinels guarding the fortress.