This 20.5 km leg begins in Monteriggioni and takes about 6 hours to complete. Leaving the town walks behind you, walk along the unpaved roads in the Sienese hills to the medieval village of Cerbaia. Carry on through the woods as far as Chiocciola castle and Villa castle before descending toward Pian del Lago.
Cross the Renai woods before reaching Porta Camollia, the traditional Via Francigena entrance to Siena. In the city, walk down Banchi di Sopra and then up to the end of this leg in Piazza del Campo, the Duomo and then the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala.
This leg is relatively quick and easy, but is made complicated by the lack of water supply and food along the way.
Total length (km): 20.5
Accessibility: On foot or with mountain bike
Time on foot (h: min): 4.30
Climb in ascent (m): 330
Climb in descent (m): 282
Maximum altitude (m): 354
Paved roads: 42%
Unpaved roads and driveways: 33%
Mule-tracks and trails: 25%
How to get to the departure point: Empoli-Siena railway line, Castellina Scalo station
Monteriggioni - Along the route of the Via Francigena also stands the hermitage of San Leonardo al Lago. The presence of significant local religious figures, including the Blessed Agostino Novello, helped turn it into a place of pilgrimage.
Siena - Museum of Biccherne the State Archives of Siena: Here you'll find a work whose subject is the arrival of an embassy in Siena in 1498. The painter, close to Girolamo di Benvenuto, created a lively and large group, composed of several armed horsemen and some infantry on foot, while he is entering Siena. Based on their expression of amazement, the characters were identified as the ambassadors of some Italian or foreign state in admiration at the magnificence of the city they were entering. During 1498, Pandolfo Petrucci the Magnificent, the future ruler of Siena, enacts a tortuous political battle against Italian powers at war, maintaining contacts with both Venice and with the League of Florence and Milan: thus, at the end of August, the Venetian ambassador Alvise Sagundino came to Siena. The group is following, almost in procession, the Via Francigena in the section north of the city, and it features the Antiporto and "torrazzo" Camollia (which no longer exists today), two well developed ports of the defensive city walls. You'll also notice the small hospital of St. Anthony, and that of the Holy Sepulchre (which no longer exists): here there were accommodations for many travelers and pilgrims.
In the twelfth century, in front of the hospital that has long welcomed the visit of pilgrims to the Via Francigena, the Cathedral was built with beautiful marble and frescoes using natural colors. To see these materials just go to the Museum of Natural History of the Academy of Fisiocritici. Here you can find a collection of marbles used in the Cathedral of Siena; important for knowing the types used and the quarries of origins for restoration and maintenance over time.
The museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala - Almost all the great Sienese artists worked for the Santa Maria della Scala, Siena's main hospital built along the stretch of the Via Francigena, mentioned for the first time in a deed in 1090. It was used for centuries as a hospital and hospice for pilgrims, the poor and abandoned children. One of the most important features is the largest hospital ward dedicated to pilgrims, built in the third decade of the fourteenth century and frescoed around the middle of the fifteenth century. The scenes on one side celebrating the legendary history and real hospital; on the other, they are a representation of the activities of reception of pilgrims, nursing the sick and care for the poor and orphans.
Cover image credit: TOB