The first known mention of the Via Francigena, dated to 876 CE, refers to this stretch of the route, which today is an official variant rather than the main trail. The story of this pilgrimage route begins with the Lombards, who spent the seventh century creating a network of roads connecting France to Rome.
Being mostly under Frankish dominion, this network of roads came to be known as the Via Francigena, and the first known documentation of the name is kept in the Abbey of San Salvatore itself, in the Codex Diplomaticus Amiatinus. This document, which dates back to 4 May 876, amounts to the first known record of the Via Francigena.
To walk this alternative section 36 today, you need to start at the point where it departs from the official main route, just before the posthouse in Ricorsi. The entire stretch between San Quirico D'Orcia and the Abbadia San Salvatore (where you will easily find accommodation) is 32 kilometres long, with a reasonably demanding climb. The next section rewards your efforts with an easy descent. Then you pass through the Paglia valley and descend towards Ponte a Rigo (where a guest house operates for pilgrims), before rejoining the main route of the Francigena, which heads towards Acquapendente.