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A long journey along the "Via Pisana"

The Via Romea in the Val d'Elsa

In the Middle Ages, this road that led to Pisa from Florence was used for commercial purposes. Now you can cycle or walk it.

Point of departure: Porta San Frediano (Florence)
Point of arrival: Piazza Duomo (Siena)
Distance: 136 km
Duration: 36h 50 min (on foot)
Difficulty: easy
Recommended time of year: winter, summer

In the Middle Ages, the road that led to Pisa from Florence was used for commercial purposes. Along with the Arno river, which, at the time, was a waterway used primarily for transport, the route was used to connect the towns of the Lower Valdarno to the port in Pisa. The road, however, was also travelled by pilgrims, many of which travelled by boat from Santiago de Compostela to Pisa. It was also important because it ran parallel to the Via Francigena, until the town of Empoli, where the two routes crossed.   
Follow the walking and cycling path that starts in Florence's Cascine Park to Renai Park in Signa. The route leads up the Chianti hills to the west, keeping the Valdelsa to your left. Once you reach the Valdelsa, the route runs parallel to the 'Sigeric' section of the Via Francigena, which can also be reached from Monterappoli, Castelfiorentino, Certaldo and Acquaviva.
Hospitality along the route:
That the road to Pisa in the Middle Ages was highly frequented by pilgrims is clear from the many hospitals that were located along it. The first hospital was situated at the beginning of the route, near Porta San Frediano in Florence. Hospitals were located both in Florence's San Frediano area as well as outside of the city, in Legnaia, Ponte a Greve, and Casellina. Further along the path, pilgrims encountered the Sant'Antonio hospital in Lastra a Signa, established in 1411, and others in Gangalandi and Signa. Other institutions that gave hospitality to pilgrims were located in Montelupo (the Hospitale Virginis Marie sive della Tagliata and a hospital run by Domenicans), in Cerbaiola (the Hospitale Sancti Leonardi de Cerbaiola) and in Empoli, which had three hospitals in the 1300s: the Domus pauperum hospitals; Hospitale Ecclesiae Sancti Augustini; and the l'Hospitale Societas Annunciate plebis.

In addition to these places that offered assistance to pilgrims, there were private structures that also offered pay lodgings. These hotels were located in towns and along the route, especially in Empoli, Lastra a Signa and Gangalandi, but others were also located in Legnaia, Scandicci, Ponte a Greve, Montelupo and more.

Via Quinctia:
The medieval ruote of the via Pisana was generally supposed to substitute the ancient Roman road for Pisa: the via Quinctia. In 1752, near Montelupo, a milestone was found, however, other characteristic materials of the ancient Roman road were not on the surface, and have disappeared over the centuries, especially due to the changes of the Arno river.

In the end, the generations of inhabitants, many of which were characterized as being typical 'villages on the road' were, without a doubt, helpful in revealing that the modern and medieval route was the most travelled in the 1800s.