Via Francigena ad Altopascio

Leg 7: Altopascio to San Miniato

Along the Via Francigena, amid art and churches

This leg is 25.3 km long and begins in Altopascio; it takes less than 6 hours to complete. On the initial section of the path, in Galleno, trekkers walk on the ancient dirt road of the Via Francigena. After crossing the hills of Cerbaie, wild and deserted, you head for the Ponte a Cappiano, with its recently restored Medici bridge.

From here, along the banks of the Usciana canal, you can cross the ancient swamp that has been drained and go up to the center of Fucecchio. After crossing the Arno, you will come to San Miniato, the once powerful and perfectly maintained medieval town.

Water and refreshments are availble in
Chimenti, Galleno, Ponte a Cappiano, and Fucecchio.

Total length (km): 25.3
Accessibility: on foot or with mountain bike
Time on foot (h: min): 5.40
Climb in ascent (m): 283
Climb in descent (m): 173
Maximum altitude (m): 130
Difficulty: easy
Paved roads: 44%
Unpaved roads and driveways: 53%
Mule-tracks and trails: 3%
Cyclability: 100%
How to get to the departure point: Florence-Viareggio railway line, Altopascio
station

SIGHTS
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.

Fucecchio - Pastoral activities at the end of the twelfth century is an element closely related to the birth of the town. Must sees include the Abbey of San Salvatore di Fucecchio, rebuilt after 1106 in the current location. The Abbey was founded by the Cadolingi Counts, who transformed the church that had existed since the tenth century to allow the Arno river crossing of the Via Romea.

Castelfranco di Sotto and Orentano - Located in the Cerbaie hills, the residential area of Galleno corresponds to the Grasse Geline mentioned by Filippo Augusto of France during his return from the third crusade (1191). It was here in the 11th century that a court of the Cadolingi counts was contested by the bishop of Lucca and the hospital of Altopascio with the goal of certifying their presence on the important itinerary. Since at least 1418, the border between the cities of Castelfranco and Fucecchio runs along the moat of the Galleno castle and the late medieval road that was a reconstruction of an ancient portion of the Via Francigena crossed by the French king. The conservation of the road is due to the removal of traffic following the Via Regia Traversa of Valdinievole in the 18th century. Here you can visit the Archaeological Museum of Castelfranco and Orentano.
 
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