This 18.6 kilometer stretch, which begins in Lucca, can be traversed in about 4 hours. Travelers leave Lucca from Porta San Gervasio for a relatively flat and easy route, dotted with numerous buildings of historic and religious interest. Arriving in Capannori you’ll see the famous Romanesque church of San Quirico; then, just after Porcari, with a short 500-meter deviation, you’ll reach Badia di Pozzeveri.
You’ll soon arrive at the church of San Jacopo, a place to rest in Altopascio. This area was once covered with bandit-filled forests, and the hospitable nature of the Knights of Tau offered a welcome refuge for weary wanderers.
Take along plenty of water and food, as the long route includes backroads and sparsely populated areas where you may not have easy access to basic provisions for extended periods – particularly in a stretch of road in Corte Ginori.
Total length (km): 18.6
Accessibility: On foot or with mountain bike
Time on foot (h.min.): 4.00
Climb in ascent (m): 30
Climb in descent (m): 30
Maximum altitude (m): 24
Paved roads: 96%
Unpaved roads and driveways: 1%
Mule-tracks and trails: 3%
How to get to the departure point: Viareggio-Florence and Aulla-Lucca railway lines, Lucca station
Capannori - Particularly rich in medieval fortifications and churches, Capannori is also home to the church of San Leonardo in Treponzio, the facade of which is attributed to someone from the Guidetto school. It additionally boasts the church of San Gennaro, which is quite richly decorated. Heading out of Capannori, you’ll end up in Lammari, home to the church of Saint Christopher, which dates back to the twelfth century.
Lunata – In Lunata you’ll find the Hospital of St. Matthew and Pellegrino, once a center for elderly travelers, which formed part of the parish of San Frediano. Some elements of the old church, including the bell tower, remain today.
Rughi - In the small town of Rughi, thought to be of Lombardic origin, the church of Santa Maria is worth a visit. It has undergone radical architectural transformations, particularly when considering the original medieval plan. Unfortunately, today there are no visible remnants of the 13th century hospital that was once nearby.
Porcari – In the early eleventh century, the churches of St. Mary and St. Michael the Archangel in Porcari were the next stops on the standard pilgrimage route. Today, remnants of the castle include some artistic renderings of the rivalries among the area’s noble families.
Montecarlo – The castle and the church of San Piero in Campo, which dates back to the 12th century and is quite well preserved, are both worth visiting.
Altopascio - A major hospice centre in Europe in the Middle Ages, Altopascio is important among pilgrims that still pass through here, staying in the guest quarters that are many managed by the council. The story of Altopascio starts with the Hospice of Tau, from the early eleventh century. On the Via Francigena, it has provided hospitality and assistance to the pilgrims, the sick and the poor, for centuries. Since 1191, the time of Philip Augustus, Altopascio was simply called "The Hospice" or Hospital throughout Europe. It has been written about by Boccaccio, Machiavelli and Shakespeare. Next to the silo granaries is the small but interesting archaeological museum. The displays in the museum show many aspects of life of the area, from the twelfth to the nineteenth century.